May 16th, 2017

Teachers in driver’s seat must raise the bar

A YEAR has passed since the last Teachers Day celebration. Today, teachers nationwide celebrate this auspicious occasion again, whereby they will be feted by students and Parent Teachers’ Association in recognition of their contributions and services. The speeches delivered will sing accolades of their role in nation-building and how the nation hinges on them in realising national aspirations.

Besides receiving various gifts from students and PTAs in the form of greeting cards, flowers, mugs and others, teachers and the other guests will sit together to enjoy the scrumptious meal that would be served. The celebration, which normally lasts a few hours, comes to an end with guests lea­ving the school, and teachers returning to the classroom to resume their duties.

It is always good to feel appre­ciated, and Teachers Day is the perfect platform to show appreciation to our teachers for a job well done. As professionals, teachers are committed to their job and cause, and will continue to help the growth of their students on all four fronts – physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, as enshrined in our education philosophy. The success of their students is the most satisfying reward that any teacher could ever ask for.

On a more serious note, to take the celebration a notch higher, Teachers Day celebration should really be a time for reflection. It is time to reflect on their successes, achievements and shortcomings, and map out new strategies to further improve the quality of tea­ching. More importantly, it is time to address their issues and concerns regarding the profession, be it workload, training, remuneration, welfare or others.

The demands of the 21st century classroom are enormous. A lot of time is spent on preparation and execution of lessons if teachers are to incorporate the 4Cs – namely Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking skills, Differentiated Learning, i-think mapping strategies, ICT, just to name a few. While all of these are beneficial to the learner, tea­chers are finding it difficult to see the bigger picture, and hence unable to translate them effectively in the classroom.

With the introduction of the new education blueprint, which aspires to put our education system among the elites, the education scenario in our country continues to evolve. Teachers, as prime movers and implementers of this blueprint, have a Herculean task to ensure the blueprint achieves its desired objectives.

Hence, it is of paramount importance to ensure teachers are focused on their core business, spending their working hours engaged primarily with the students. Administrative work should either be reduced or delegated to an assistant teacher or other non-teaching staff. Besides, they should be provided with adequate training in the form of meaningful and relevant Continuing Professional Development courses to fully conceptualise the demands of the 21st century education, and given enough time, space and resources to execute their duties professionally. And teachers should be rewarded accordingly, as deemed fit by the Ministry of Education, for realising national goals and aspirations.

The success of the new education blueprint needs the full commitment and support of everyone in the education sector. Teachers, in particular, are in the driver’s seat to steer the nation forward. In order to do so, they would have to raise the bar, in terms of acquisition of knowledge, development of teaching skills and the quality of delivery.

To all teachers nationwide, thank you for your devotion and dedication to the teaching profession.

Happy Teachers Day. Jaginder Singh Batu Gajah The STAR Letters 16 May 2017