October 5 is the World Teachers’ Day. This day is observed across the globe to commemorate the teachers’ invaluable role in building up a nation. It also makes teachers aware of their rights and responsibilities, standards for their initial preparation, professional development, and teaching and learning conditions.
There is no denial that amid the unprecedented corona pandemic the teachers around the world are struggling as they are experiencing many challenges with regard to ensuring quality education. As a matter of fact, the leadership of teachers is worth mentioning in this situation and quality teachers not only take the lead but also create future leaders.This year the theme of the world teachers’ day was “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”. The very theme illustrated that teachers should not only be confined to leading during a crisis but also have a look at reimagining the future of the students. Truly, the post-pandemic will bring out many more challenges in the education sector that find no alternatives to the sufficient engagement of teachers from online to campus-centric education.
Obviously these days, students and teachers are passing the most critical time. 90 per cent of the global students are out of school at the height of the pandemic that is severely impacting the education system.
This pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries and all the continents. In fact, closures of schools have been more catastrophic in low and lower-middle-income countries.
However, as soon as the Covid-19 hit the world, the world education went online and teachers of the countries were busy with transitioning the mode of education by adopting virtual means of teaching.
Obviously, there are an enormous number of teachers who have experience of teaching students for a couple of decades, but how many out of them had online teaching experience? Though, it is laudable to notice that our teachers have already stepped into the new normal of teaching.
It is commonly observed that the frontline fighters are appreciated with due respect as they are doing a lot for the nation. It is true that frontline fighters such as doctors and those who are the concerned members of many voluntary organisations are working with their best efforts to serve humanity.In this regard, it is pertinent to ask, can we not count the contributions of teachers in these corona days? Are their contributions not worthy of considering them as frontline fighters? Without any doubt, they are the true fighters, enduring huge trouble going on to work for the future generation of the country. Meanwhile, they have played a vital role in guiding their students and communities through this unprecedented crisis.
These days, they undergo many hurdles such as technical glitches, network connection issues and lack of equipment. On top of that, they are working more than usual at their institutions as virtual teaching is more challenging than that of the usual campus platform. They are found working to prepare for their lessons, compile notes, search videos, check assignments and exam papers, and what not!
However, though our teachers are working relentlessly, the question is pertinent to raise, how much success they have achieved in providing inclusive education to students? Many studies show that online classes have limited appeal among the students as more than 50 per cent of students are not attending the classes, and the students from ethnic minorities and madrasa are the most vulnerable.
It is disheartening to see that teachers are not paid regularly and in many cases, salary deductions and layoffs are common to notice. Certainly in our country, the staffs at government educational institutions has nothing to worry about, but conditions for those working at non-government institutions are not as good.
Many private institutions are faced with financial collapse, leading to the verge of extinction that encourages the layoff randomly. Some schools and private colleges have already been sold out as they have failed to survive in these hard days.
Apart from the survival challenges of a great number of teachers, the worries with regard to reopening educational institutions are deepening, and prolonged closures are getting all the stakeholders frustrated.
It is certain that mere confinement to online teaching can never bring maximum outcomes for the students rather we need to think of post-pandemic teaching. Curriculum should be modified favourably to address the loss of the time.
However, teacher leadership to mitigate the crisis prevailing in the education sector is noteworthy but it is time to utilise all the possibilities of the teachers to uphold the nation at the maximum height. For this, they should be highly esteemed in all regards.
Let us acknowledge their contributions and show the heartiest respect to them as they are the makers of the nation at all times – good and bad.
The writer teaches at Prime University