• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Teachers as miracle workers


Since 1994, the World Teachers Day is celebrated by UNESCO annually every October 5th, to mobilize support for the teaching profession across the world.  Without doubt, teachers are worthy to be celebrated in view of their role as future makers. To underscore their roles as initiators, every major attainment in the world could be traced, either directly or indirectly, to teachers.  This is because each of the world’s greatest achievers attained the feat because they were once motivated by their teachers. It is, therefore, quite thoughtful of UNESCO to set aside a day to acknowledge the laudable contributions of teachers to the socio-economic evolvement of our contemporary world.

It will be an understatement to state that teachers have an enormous role to play in the education of not only students but the education of a nation. They play multifaceted role in the society. In taking care of pupils and students put in their care for a considerable number of hours on a daily basis (it has been discovered that students/pupils spend a great proportion of their day under the watchful eyes of teachers), they act proxy parents. By helping to shape the destinies of numerous children, they perform the task of social workers. A teacher could equally be likened to a miracle worker who is well schooled in the art of helping a student to discover his/her untapped potentials. Whenever the innate but largely hidden potential of a student comes in contact with the therapeutic skill of a teacher, a miracle occurs. 

Teachers hold the key to the future since they help to mould future leaders. They don’t just teach, they are critical personalities who nurture the young folks to mature, to understand the world and to understand themselves. The education of a child involves a total development of personality and this means that the human element of improvement is essential. This is something that can only be done by the teacher.  In the words of famous rabbi and scholar of Judaism, Jonathan Sacks, “when teachers open our eyes to the world. They give us curiosity and confidence. They teach us to ask questions. They connect us to our past and future.

They are the guardians of our social heritage…Life without a teacher is simply not a life”. In a world that is daily confronted with swift social changes, sometimes inexplicable crisis and bizarre natural occurrences, teachers remain the most constant bastion of hope.     

In line with the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, “invest in the future, invest in a teacher”, every investment in teachers is one that is worthy of every penny spent. A society that refuses to invest in teachers will only be promoting ignorance. And ignorance, in its nastiest manifestation, breeds all manners of social ills. Ultimately, the price that a nation might have to pay for encouraging ignorance almost often exceed what it needs to do to uphold education. This is why every nation of the world must fully come to term with the need to further enhance the competence of teachers at all levels. It is in doing this that the critical issue of nation building, especially in Third World countries, could be effectively tackled. In other words, building in a nation without first building teachers would basically amount to chasing shadow.

The occasion of the 2014 World Teachers Day is, therefore, quite timely as it offers a vital opening for all stakeholders to reflect on the state of teachers across the world. In our country, in particular, this is the time to go beyond paying lip services to capacity building for teachers. Concerted efforts should be made by appropriate authorities to improve the working conditions of teachers. A situation where teachers are hired by some private schools as cheap labour should be utterly discouraged. You can imagine a graduate teacher receiving an amount as miserable N15,000 as salary in the 21st Century Nigeria. When considered alongside the fact that teachers, especially those that operate in private schools, don’t usually get paid during holidays (especially long vacations) not to talk of being insured for the future, then the despondent situation of teachers in the country would be appropriately appreciated.

A nation that toils with the well being of its teachers inadvertently puts her own future in serious jeopardy. Without putting in place the proper machinery to improve the working condition of teachers, all efforts to bring about the realization of the national mass literacy project would simply go down the drain.  Consequently, the successful execution of the mass literacy project could only be made possible with the active participation of a well motivated, properly trained and competent teaching force. Appropriate governmental and non-governmental organizations, therefore, need to intensify efforts towards developing the competence of teachers across the country.

Perhaps, the most convincing approach to deal with the numerous of problems we face in our dear nation is to urgently attend to the waning fortune of teachers in the country. As much as we try, poverty, disease, religious fanaticism, political chaos, ethnic bigotry, gender discrimination, economic depression among others, could only be effectively confronted with the assistance of a proficient teaching and loyal teaching personnel.

It is, however, important that teachers, particularly in our nation, continue to uphold the integrity and dignity of the teaching profession. A situation where teachers get involved in unimaginable acts capable of denting the image of the profession is, to say the least, despicable. The teaching profession, the world over, is a noble vocation. Ours must not be an exception. A nation could cope with half –baked engineers or lawyers. But, no nation, desirous of making meaningful progress, could survive with a mediocre teaching workforce.   

Undoubtedly, the destiny of every nation is shaped, reinforced and actualized in the classrooms. The quality of lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, politicians, administrators and other professionals that a country has is determined by the worth of what transpires in the classroom. According to Confucius : “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; To put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; To put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life;

And to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right”. Since a well nurtured teaching first lies at the heart of every society, to get our hearts right, we need to get our teachers right. We should not only be interested in the miracles teachers perform. We should make efforts to sustain the channel that produces the miracles.