For a better future, we must empower our teachers
There is no denying that for a society to advance, and advance in the right direction, teachers must play a catalytic role as they have the all-too-important job of preparing future leaders. And how well they can do that depends on how well they are treated. As the World Teachers' Day reminds us, they need to be appreciated, aided and empowered for them to be successful. Unfortunately, as a nation, the "appreciation" that we currently have for our teachers across the educational spectrum is perhaps at a historic low.
No education system, as the saying goes, can be better than its teachers. So, the fact that our education system is doing so poorly is proof that our teachers are not faring well. There are plenty of reasons for that. For example, the hyper-politicisation of educational institutions at the tertiary level – and also at lower levels to some extent – has done immeasurable harm to the reputation and standard of teachers as well as their to moral standing. When teachers are recruited or promoted on the basis of their political allegiance rather than qualifications, their quality is bound to suffer. Our schools and colleges also suffer from substandard teaching and a lack of proper teaching aids and environments.
No education system, as the saying goes, can be better than its teachers. So the fact that our education system is doing so poorly is proof that our teachers are not faring well. There are plenty of reasons for that.
In such a climate, it is perhaps natural for teachers to not have the unqualified support or respect they once enjoyed. And politicisation and a general decline in moral values are largely responsible for that, with those still doing their job honestly often facing intimidation and harassment by politicians, bureaucrats, and even students. We have often come across reports of physical assaults on teachers. In many cases, teachers themselves were found to be engaged in immoral activities, such as question paper leaks, sexual harassment, financial irregularities, etc.
The fact that we undervalue the role of teachers is further evidenced by how little financial remuneration they are given – particularly those working at the primary education level. When teachers' pay is set at such low levels, how can we expect the best and brightest minds to take up this noble profession? As well as proper remuneration, teachers also need proper training and complementary tools to do their jobs. The quality of textbooks, the facilities available to teachers within the confines of their classrooms, their academic freedom, etc all play a big role in how well they are able to teach. We are doing poorly across all these fronts at the moment.
Bangladesh has a glorious history of producing courageous teachers who inspired their students and the nation in general. It is time to restore teachers to their former glory. The importance of a knowledge society is being felt across the globe, and teachers have a very important role to play in that regard, as well as in steering our nation to a bright future. We must cultivate and empower teachers properly, for our own sake.