Valuing teachers, improving their status

Quazi Faruque Ahmed | Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Today, October 05, is World Teachers' Day. UNESCO declared World Teachers' Day on this day in 1994 in celebration of the great achievements of 1966. UNESCO, in cooperation with the ILO, convened that year a special intergovernmental conference convened in Paris.  The conference adopted  ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers which included the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions. Today teachers will observe World Teachers' Day globally. (In India, the day is observed on September 05, the birth day of their late President S. Radhakrishnan.)
CHANGE FACTORS: The change factors which need to be considered: i. Transformation of the image of the teacher from 'guru' to a professional. ii. The gap in the generation of new and old teachers. iii. Replacement of the retired teachers by new ones. iv. Recognition of change of values in the societies of all the regions of the world.  
MAKING  TEACHERS EFFECTIVE: Teachers can be made truly effective through: i. Self-assessment programme of teachers on their performances.
 ii. Deficiency make-up provision for those who need it. iii. Strong motivational campaign to morally boost up the passive teachers through concerted efforts. iv. Appropriate teacher-student ratio in class room. v. Active involvement of teachers' organisations in the campaign. vi. Teacher-parent school management. vii. Autonomy, adequate time and provision in the preparation of teachers.    viii. Incentive, recognition and inspiration. ix. Effectively addressing gender issue in case of both the learners and the teachers. x. Pre-service and in-service training. xi. Proper allocation of fund for education.
NEW DIMENSION: World Teachers' Day is observed this year with multi-dimensional perspectives. The United Nations and its specialised agency, UNESCO  have recently suggested to replace the traditional school management concept, which has become the domain of politicians and bureaucrats, with  school leadership headed  by the head teacher.
Surveys conducted in various countries show that teaching no more attracts meritorious boys and girls. UNESCO has suggested how to improve the situation.
Lastly, the United Nations has suggested that governments should make highest allocation in public education and end commercialisation of education. Goal 4 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) deals with education. world over. Already the gap within and among nations in education seems to narrow down  or decrease. This is the context of World Teachers` Day 2016, with the theme: 'Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status'.
VALUING TEACHERS WITH STATUS: In her foreword to EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/4, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova  rightly said : 'An education system is only as good as its teachers. Unlocking their potential is essential to enhancing the quality of learning. Evidence shows that education quality improves when teachers are supported.' The GMR Report identified  four strategies to provide the best teachers to reach all children with a good quality education. First, the right teachers must be selected to reflect the diversity of the children they will be teaching; second, teachers must be trained to support the weakest learners, starting from the early grades. A third strategy aims to overcome inequalities in learning by allocating the best teachers to the most challenging parts of a country. Lastly, governments must provide teachers with the right mix of incentives to encourage them to remain in the profession and to make sure all children are learning, regardless of their circumstances. But teachers cannot shoulder the responsibility alone. The Report shows also that teachers can only shine in the right context, with well-designed curricula and assessment strategies to improve teaching  and learning. So the need for valuing teachers with the guarantee of their due status provided in the UNESCO-ILO Recommendation is inescapable. So the need for 'Valuing Teachers' with the guarantee of 'Status'.
Prof. Quazi Faruque Ahmed is Chairman, Initiative for Human Development (IHD).
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