The global imperative to reverse teacher shortage - Dainikshiksha

The global imperative to reverse teacher shortage

Masum Billah |

Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Laureate, says about teachers and education “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” and Arne Duncan says `Wherever you find something extraordinary, you’ll find the fingerprints of a great teacher.”  Teachers’ contribution has been glorified through these comments. `World Teachers’ Day is being celebrated every year on October 5 around the world. This year’s theme is “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage”. The teachers should have necessary qualities and the shortage of quality teachers should be dealt with due seriousness as the underlined meaning of this year’s theme goes.  Many cultural fests and events are also organized in educational institutions to honor the teachers for their service. Students pay tribute to their teachers on this day by means of a simple gift to let them know how much they value teachers’ contribution.  Any teacher in our life deserves a bit of respect and tribute on this day. Teachers should feel special on the occasion of this day. Last year the theme of this day was ‘The transformation of education begins with teachers. Thus, the theme gets changed every year keeping pace with the issues and existing situations the world faces. In Bangladesh the day gains a special significance this year as it is for the first time ‘World Teachers’ Day’ is being observed under state sponsorship since its inception in 1994.

The day aims to appreciate, assess and improve the educators of the world providing an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching. World Teachers’ Day speaks to a massive token of the mindfulness, comprehension and thankfulness showed for the fundamental commitment that educators make in advancement by teaching. But the job of a teacher seems to be an unsettled issue in Bangladesh. We see multifarious differences among the people taken up this profession and a silent clash appears sometimes vehemently and sometimes in a mild way. The teachers who enjoy state facilities are divided into two groups. Cadre teachers and non-cadre teachers. Another group of teachers enjoy some state benefits but they are not government teachers. They have been demonstrating from time to time to get nationalized. Why? They want it firstly for economic safety and security, for redressing professional disparity and professional prestige. The current level of economic management does not ensure their economic security; hence teachers have to remain busy with addressing economic problems, that stands in the way of their dedication to the profession. Economic strength of the non-government educational institutions is determined by the types of institutions and the areas where institutions stand. It can be further clarified that the urban and industrial area schools see better economic situation than rural, haor, hilly and coastal regions. The authorities of these institutions struggle to give desired amount of salary and benefits of the teachers. Situation proves worse if the institutions are not MPO enlisted. I am always in favour of ensuring financial security of the teachers irrespective of their affiliation to government and non-government institutions. Financial insecurity, disparity in the profession itself, suppression of the management committee members have coupled  with pupils’ being inattentive in the class, their misbehavior, remaining absent in the class and serious addiction to mobile and social media  made the profession most unattractive, monotonous and boring. We frequently see the facebook status of some teachers who try to ventilate their frustration .However, this picture is not only in Bangladesh but also in many  countries of the world with some possible exceptions. Every year about half a million teachers leave their job and the reasons are almost similar everywhere. 

Only a few countries could have set some different examples in this regard. Another group of teachers who don’t get anything from the state, they just teach with the hope of government recognition someday. Primary level teachers are mostly looked after by the state. That means they have full financial security but its reflection hardly appears in disseminating teaching putting questions towards us   ‘ can the financial  benefit ensure quality teaching?’.  A reverse picture lies that the teachers teaching in the non-government or absolutely private level show their commitment to service. The government primary teachers think there must not be any kindergarten types schools in the country. But the practicality says that the state- run primary education cannot ensure quality and even management problem because of its huge size. Then again, there will lie no competition or any example to compare the way of teaching the kids. Our tertiary level education gives us another picture. The state -run universities harbour serious student politics that stands out of the control of the university authorities inviting serious disturbance in the campus causing interrupted academic activities. Though it was supposed that student politics must be an effective platform to learn and teach leadership quality and practice how to respond to the call of the nation after the university life.  However, quite opposite thing happens in the public university campuses in the name of this politics. Teachers also get divided into political groups keeping themselves away from the real works of university teachers. This is why we don’t see any university of our country in the global ranking list. Some of our private universities, of course, are doing better though they don’t get any financial support from the state. In this practicality, the government is planning to establish at least one public university in each district that seems conflicting with the situation explained above particularly in terms of their contribution in the quality education field. All these relevant points must be discussed in the World Teachers’ Day and discussion must not be for the sake of discussion only. It should have a concrete result and discover a clear path and direction to follow. 

On World Teachers’ Day, the services of teachers and their contributions to education are acknowledged and their role and importance for the development of students and society are appreciated. However, it still is seen confined to ceremonial functions   and discussions. The real spirit of this day calls for true implementation of promises and expectations of World Teachers ‘Day and the teachers of the entire globe should come under one umbrella. They must create opportunities and scopes to share easily and freely the latest developments and experiences of teaching learning situation crossing the boundaries and borders of our individual territories.  Educationists and teacher leaders should take the lead to make it happen. It will definitely widen the scope of professional development and boost moral spirit and psychological encouragement.  

Writer: President English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB)

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