By Eric Elezuo
In 1994, the world came up with a programme aimed at acknowledging and celebrating the efforts of the men and women, who have added value to existence through training and moulding of minds towards competing in the world and enhancing the wellbeing of the people. That programme was caged in October 5 of every year, and declared World Teachers’ Day.
Also known as International Teachers Day, the day is celebrated to “commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world.
“This recommendation outlines standards relating to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions. World Teachers’ Day aims to focus on “appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world” and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.”
The UNESCO cites that everyone can help by celebrating the profession, by generating awareness about teacher issues and by ensuring that teacher respect is part of the natural order of things. Schools and students, for instance, are expected to prepare an occasion for teachers during this day.
Some countries like India, however, celebrate the day on September 5 in honour of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. The tradition started from 1962. This is the when Dr. Radhakrishnan was born. He was a philosopher, scholar, teacher, and politician and his dedicated work towards education made his birthday an important day in the history of India.
One day, his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday in a lavish way. In return he said that it would be his pride and honor if they celebrate his birthday in respect of all teachers. And since then, September 5 is celebrated as Teacher’s Day.
In most places across the globe, especially Nigeria, teachers and teaching are viewed as an all comers profession. In fact, it is seen as a profession only those who could not find a job dabble in. Consequently, managers of the school system have, and continued to treat shabbily teachers in their employ.
It is worthy of note that there is hardly a notable professional today, who did not pass through a teacher. But while they glory in opulence, the brains behind their emergence continue to languish in penury.
It is high time we gathered and developed more and better policies to cater for the needs of the teachers and the teaching profession. Days are gone when the reward of the teacher is absolutely considered to be in heaven. Everybody’s reward is in heaven, but there’s an element of reward being enjoyed here on earth, and teachers should be part of it.
Consequently, on this auspicious day set aside to celebrate the thankless duties of the teacher, it is imperative that government look again towards the welfare of the proverbial ‘chalk profession’ and make their lives more meaningful. It is the outlook of the teacher that makes even his pupil to despise the teaching profession.
Visit a classroom today, no matter the level, and ask the pupils what they would wish to be in future. You won’t be surprised to note that only a handful, and in some cases none will mention teaching. Professions like law, medicine, journalism, aviator and many others will readily flew out of the mouths. No one wants to be a teacher because the life of a teacher is practical ‘hell’. he is paid the worse of salaries; he sits on the worse of furniture to do his duties; his square hole office is highly dilapidated and worse still, he is highly malnourished, and it shows.
Let us today seek out one teacher, and if you can more than one and appreciate him with a call, greeting or gift. The teacher deserves not just the good life, but even the better life.