[Opinion] Salam Teacher

Sultan Alam

The importance of teacher in the society can be well understood by Sir John Adam’s quote, “The teacher is the maker of man”.

Education of children is one of the greatest of all services that can be rendered by men to Almighty Allah. The role of a teacher in education system is vital. She or he is practically the benchmark who decides the quality of education system and hence brings positive changes in the whole world. It is the teacher who decides if the education system is a success or a failure. It is on his/her shoulders that the entire education system rests as s/he single-handedly shapes the generation. To support the role of teacher, someone rightly said that if you want to study the nature of the citizens of the country then meet some teachers and study their nature. After all, the society is a replica of teachers living in it.

Teachers help students transform into respectable human beings with a positive attitude, confidence and motivation to pursue excellence. So, a teacher is no doubt, and draftsman of a new generation who determines the quality and future of our tomorrow. Additionally, they are one of the main pillars of a sound and progressive society. They bear the weight and responsibility of teaching, and, apart from parents, are the main source of knowledge and values for children.  But teaching jobs as a profession are not given the respect that they deserve. We must understand that teaching is the only profession that teaches all the other professions and so, its significance and greatness is much higher.

With these insights on the role of a teacher, it is clear that they make a tremendous contribution in building our society and hence always must be held in high esteem.

The universally promised goal that “by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality” (Declaration of The World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in  2000) can only be achieved if children can have access to motivated and knowledgeable teachers. They are the resource by excellence. The books are important, the pencil and the blackboard are important and so are the chairs to sit on, but if there is no motivated teacher in front of the chairs, if there is no teacher to write on the blackboard and to teach reading, math and how to pick up knowledge and values, the goal will never be achieved.

The importance of a teacher as an architect of our future generations also demands that only the best and the most intelligent and competent members of our intellectuals be allowed to qualify for this profession. It is unfortunate to find that the underachieved and incompetent people of the society find their way to this profession. Anyone who fails to find an opening in any other walk of life gets into this profession and hastily plays with the destiny of the nation. An important reason for this is understood to be the poor salaries of teachers which are not better than a nominal salary. Ultimately, a large number of our teachers are therefore frustrated and disinterested. They have to go for part-time jobs to meet their basic needs. The teachers in rural areas are forced to work in fields, to keep livestock and go for small business after their school time while the teachers in urban areas opt for student coaching or part-time office-based assignments. Secondly, the teaching profession also does not enjoy due respect in the society. The primary and secondary teachers are particularly at a disadvantage. Their status is lower than that of other professions in the society. The Aristotle of our bureaucracy has left no room for any alteration or revision in the light of new discoveries, research and progress. Even the students striving for Bachelor and Masters degrees have a set of limited books prescribed by the authorities. The teachers only solve the difficulties and then transmit a revise of these books to the students, enabling them to memorize and copy the notes in their examinations.

   In conclusion, I strongly believe that there are a few reasons that are effectively keeping our intellectuals away from the field of education. Obviously, we cannot expect an educational arrangement to deliver the goods unless it has a cadre of competent teachers. We need to address these and other associated problems of teachers. The teachers should be entitled to better salaries and better facilities when compared with other professions. It should be determined that a candidate for this profession has a natural expertise and capacity for teaching. Simultaneously, all out efforts should be launched to restore the financial and social status of teachers. We do have a practice of awarding the Pride of Performance awards to the people linked with other professions but the outstanding achievements of a upright teacher go unnoticed and are not welcomed. The notable achievements of teachers should also be appreciated at the state level and while evaluating them, their academic and research output should also be considered. This is an important issue demanding immediate and prioritized attention of the educational systems on emergent basis. The electronic and print media can also play a very positive role in this regard. These measures can go a long way towards a better future of our country and the whole society through encouraging intelligent and competent people to join this profession and by bringing out their true potential.

 The contributor is a faculty member at Professional Development Centre North (PDCN) of  Aga Khan University. 

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