In recent days, there is a serious discontent among the teachers particularly in higher education on the issue of their status as it is conceived that the best students of classes are gradually losing interest in selecting their profession as a university teacher. Many students in spite of having extra ordinary results in all sections of education have preferred civil services or multinational companies for the better future.
Many of my colleagues remorsefully repent for their penurious life style as they do not have office car, personal telephone, personal secretary and good office with gorgeous decoration. Even, people do not give the exact social value to the teacher. Besides, some professions other than teaching can ensure much better life style because of invisible earnings though not for every cases but in many. The scope of having this opportunity is sometimes targeted to be first in civil service examination by the fresh university students.
However, statistics say bright students always show their intent to come to the university profession since it is pondered to be the best one. It gives human freedom and best seat for keeping oneself much closer to knowledge. Creating knowledge and its dissemination are the prime task of teachers because without knowledge-creation no nation can run up to higher stage. Thus, knowledge is conceived to be the highest goal of individuals and the nation as well.
But, the question comes first: Why does a bright student prefer university job keeping aside so many alluring offers? Even in a corporate atmosphere bright students in many cases are found not to incline to so-called cosy or luxurious livelihood. I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar of Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) organised by Jagannath University, Dhaka last week where I was intervened with so many important but perplexing questions regarding the issue. Professor Dr. Mijanur Rahman, Vice Chancellor of the university, makes an important quip over the whole issue. He says university teacher should understand the difference between the term succeed and gain. As a professor you may gain many things from the profession – promotion, money, car, house, etc. but you don’t have any contribution to the knowledge. You will never be succeeded in life since there is no major work to the credit. So, gaining wealth is not the perfect end of a university teacher. Professor Rahman chides those teachers who take this profession only as the medium of becoming rich. This is a common phenomenon that permeates university education from top to bottom.
Teaching as a teaching profession is unlike clerical activities as others do for the state. Its aim is only to bring light to the people to escape from ignorance. You are a great secretary, famous diplomat, renowned politician, no matter; you once took some lessons from a poor pedagogue. This was rather fundamental that finally shapes your later life. Your whole learning process was invariably escalated from elementary to higher where you can’t ignore each step for your entire educating project. You may be a genius and may have extraordinary talent but you can’t deny the role of your parents who were supposed to be your first teachers. Sometimes in the last year when there was a commotion between university teachers and civil service cadres over the issue of teachers’ status in the republic I suddenly came across a half-secretary where I found him in exasperation against university teachers. What makes him excited is teachers’ non-professional life and excess freedom. The secretary demands his daily work is comparable to none in the state because they take decision for the republic and administrate as per the demand of executive functioning. I was not taken aback at his sudden infuriate bluster because educated people do compare with none.
Truly, the function of s teacher is unlimited and university takes the prime responsibility to trace back the root of human knowledge and its multifarious usage. It is no doubt that knowledge governs the world and it comes from exercise of human cognitive activities. And, of course this is the teacher who makes it possible.
The World Teachers’ Day is valuable to all as it is being observed annually since 1994 to commemorate the anniversary signed by UNESCO in 1966 concerning the status of teachers. Accordingly, this day is being observed with a view to fulfilling the target of UNESCO that encompasses the mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. In fact, quality teachers are the main concern of UNESCO especially about their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions. It emphatically stated the role of teachers to achieve the sustainable development goal targeted by 2030. No doubt, Bangladesh government with the help of World Bank had been in a work-project of quality assurance for the teachers and teaching environment by the intervention of University Grants Commission.
This project is obviously important for future development programme but the plan is very target-oriented which suggests only of having a product to fit with the competitive business market. To be sure, education does not always aim at producing a commercially suitable product or a businessman who can only be a good entrepreneur. Instead, it makes a good man with powerful knowledge and high morality. Education ensures a life that has always been full of intellectual appetite to come at a new knowledge. Philosophy, for example, can never be a branch of commercial agenda that is unlikely to breed a successful businessman to compete with the global corporate environment. As the most fundamental section of human thoughts it only helps to prepare a logical and smart alumna who has the every quality to understand the difference between just and unjust life, right and wrong, moral and immoral livelihood etc. This is philosophy which teaches how to ignite the candle and remove the darkness of ignorance. The first teacher in human history, Socrates says ‘I know that I know nothing but they don’t know that they know nothing.’ This understandability is the prime concern of knowledge. So, you will never weight down all the objects upon a same scale.
The role of teachers is thus very comprehensive and the government should understand too. The only solution to the present crisis in humanity is to give the value of education. And, undeniably, this is the teacher who can change the world by his sagacity and innovative ingenuity.
The writer is the Chairperson, Dept. of Philosophy, Jagannath University, Dhaka.