Teachers are considered to be the light-givers to the society, to the whole nation. American President John F Kennedy said, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in our education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” Mr President, although a politician, spoke like an educationist. Without proper training of the human mind, it is quite difficult or sometimes impossible to take the nation to a long way to the desired height. In order to train and change the human minds as per the national expectations, there needs a huge number of properly educated and trained teachers; and the teachers should be placed to a respectable position so that the society honour the teachers. Without honour and recognition, better harvest cannot be reaped because teachers have to deal with the complex minds of the learners. Unless teachers’ minds and hearts are bigger and in peace, how can they better deal with thousands of minds?
A global study conducted in 2013 reveals that teachers’ salaries in Singapore are the highest and in China, South Korea, Turkey, Egypt, and India, parents encourage their children to become teachers because of honour in society. Singapore government values teaching as a highly important profession and take steps to improve the teachers through different training, workshops, and seminars. Teachers’ career map is planned simultaneously with the recruitment. And in that plan, there is well-spelt map when they would receive what training and benefits; when they would be promoted after fulfilling what pre-conditions, etc. As teachers have to deal with the psychology of many students in single classroom, they have to be properly educated and trained to be able to efficiently handle the hundreds and thousands of students. Some people may say that many teachers of Bangladesh are not that much skilled in spreading the proper light of education to the students. This claim may be right in some instances but the question is: what effective steps have we taken to improve the quality of teachers? How far do we hold the teachers responsible for proper education of our children and can we depend on them? Does our edu-culture and education system support our teachers to be continuously developed as better teachers? Why do many graduates join to education sector although they do not love teaching? Is there any motivational or mentoring supports to turn the unmotivated teachers into motivated ones? Do they feel honoured and secured to work in a schools, colleges, and in the universities? Or, is there a hidden desire like ‘it would have been better if I could join ---?’We will have to go ahead with the practicing teachers; therefore, we need to prepare them well through training, seminars, workshops, research; we need to provide them the best environment where they would love to work in. Unless we change the classroom furniture, classroom decoration, and teaching-learning culture, teacher-student ratio, how will we achieve the SDG set for quality education? Do we need so many fake (!) highly educated cheaters (because they have forcefully cheated in their graduation and Master examinations!) in the country? A huge number of the tertiary students cheat in the examinations and teachers do not stop them in fear of being assaulted; teacher assault is rampant in the country! What power have the teachers got to stop the differently powerful examinees? My 22 years experiences as a teacher educator show that there are some students who are not seen in the classrooms but comes to the colleges during in-course examinations. They cannot be barred from sitting for the examinations because of their external power. What power they exercise is known to you all. We do not want to be assaulted as Masud Rana of Shahid Bulbul College, Pabna; Shyamal Kanti Debnath of Narayangonj; and many more. I myself have been threatened many times during 22 years of my teaching life. We become helpless when the college authorities do not want to take action against the cheats; they ask us to be tactful and careful in managing situations. If students cheat, how can I manage without snatching away the pieces of papers they are copying from? Probably it is time to ensure security for all the teachers, enacting laws to push those who cheat and misbehave with the teachers and the invigilators. There may be Administration Sheet for reporting the cheats and the misconducts secretly and the name of the invigilator who has reported will not be disclosed by the college and board authorities. This kind of secret expulsion is done by the IBA when they conduct recruitment tests.
Something visible should be done for the education sector ensuring the unthreatening environment in the educational institutions. How will the teachers provide services unless they are fearless in their work places? Change of strategy such as secretly reporting the cheats in handling the students and the examinees can be one solution; or drastic action against the culprits can be the other strategy; or the both can be applied together. Give me security, recognise my services to the nation, I promise, I will continue my hard work for quality education of the country.
The writer is Associate Professor at Teachers’ Training College, Dhaka