Written by Caren Thomas
Teachers embody elements of creativity, sacrifice and selfless service. This allows them to influence individuals into those who create a positive change for society. The education imparted by teachers goes beyond the textbook knowledge. Through education being imparted in the rightful manner, we will be able to reduce conflict, prejudice and poverty. Recognising the role of teachers as educators, mentors, and role models requires us to prioritise their well-being and professional development. Teachers play a pivotal role in having a society characterised by innovation, creativity and progress.
This year, for World Teachers’ Day, the theme UNESCO will focus on is “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage”. Advocating for the teaching profession to be treated with dignity, promoting inspiring practices by other teachers which can be inculcated with the rest of society, analysing the challenges faced by teachers in varied settings, ensuring that efficient steps are taken to retain and motivate teachers are requirements that necessitate prompt attention.
Recent data from UNESCO tells us that 44 million is the number of teachers required to meet the goal of providing primary and secondary education for all students by 2030. The primary source of the problem is the need for more funding for these teachers. This is coupled with the need for more value, training and support given to the profession. It creates a dismal atmosphere for the teachers who remain in the profession and does not motivate other talented candidates to pursue it. COVID-19 was a massive setback for the teachers as they were unprepared and underequipped to face such a challenge. We must reflect on the support necessary to function to their best potential. Their talent and vocation can only be further developed if we are to rethink how to enrich this profession globally.
The ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel (1997) are two important Recommendations that highlight teachers’ indispensable role in humanity. Countries are urged to consider these recommendations and implement them to uplift the position of teachers and other educators.
Teachers are the beacons for transforming education. The UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development awards three laureates every two years with prize money for innovative practices that focus on enhancing the quality of teaching and learning worldwide. The Varkey Foundation also awards the prestigious Global Teacher Prize in collaboration with UNESCO and in partnership with Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organisation. It is awarded to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching profession. Past winners of this award, namely Keishia Thorpe (2021) and Ranjitsinh Disale (2020), hold inspirational qualities and provide a mould for overcoming challenges within the teaching environment. Their noteworthy contributions highlight the sacrifice, solicitude and sincerity teachers make for humanity’s betterment.
Teachers play a crucial role in establishing a positive influence in the lives of many individuals from the ground up. The efforts put in by the teachers go much beyond the four walls of the classroom. Teachers lay the foundation for the growth and development of young minds. A thirst for knowledge is inculcated among the students because of them. They have been instrumental in helping build peace among young people across conflict zones and reducing child marriages in many parts of the world. These are some significant triumphs teachers have been able to achieve. Teachers play a fundamental role in breaking barriers, making ethical choices and growing into responsible global citizens upholding values of empathy, equality and tolerance.