POST TIME: 4 October, 2021 05:31:29 PM
‘Teachers at the heart of education recovery’
Teachers’ capacity gets enhanced through formal training. However, the traditional approach of training will have to embrace different approaches and the teachers must cope with that phenomenon that can be termed as a great skill.
Masum Billah

 ‘Teachers at the heart of education recovery’

Today the entire teaching community of the globe is observing ‘World Teachers’ Day’ with the slogan ‘Teachers at the heart of education recovery’. The theme really sounds very befitting and timely but, without empowering teachers, can we expect to recover the learning loss of the learners that happened due to Corona pandemic? This theme has been chosen by UNESCO to show honour to the determined and diligent efforts of the teachers in the crucial days of the Covid-19 pandemic. I think it is one kind of recognition of the teachers who continued the wave of teaching even in the crucial days of Covid situation. They have exhibited their great leadership and innovation in ensuring that ‘Learning never stops and no learner is left behind’. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. More than 63 million teachers – and the nearly 1.6 billion learners have experienced severe loss of education and its adverse effect during the long closure of educational institutions that was declared as a means to stop the spread of Corona. However, teachers across the globe worked independently and collectively to create remote learning situations for students so that they could continue their educational activities being confined to home. I want to say it innovation in the sense that the teachers of poor and developing countries did not have such type of experience to use technology for education like the teachers of the western world. I salute these vanguard teachers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has really and significantly put the entire education system of the globe in serious challenge and crisis. In the midst of this full crisis the world observed ‘World Teachers’ Day’ last year and this year the educational field has started smiling carefully and not with mouth open. However, renewed hope, energy, determination and innovative approach of the teachers make us sanguine of embracing sunny days ahead. The world knows that ‘World Teachers’ Day’ honours the anniversary of the 1966 adoption of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers that highlights the rights and responsibilities of teachers, their true professional development. The prime objective of SDG4 indicates the necessity of   qualified teachers to produce quality manpower. How can that happen? By merely observing teachers’ day virtually or physically? By increasing teachers’ salary? By introducing more budget in this sector? Basically, this sector needs sound and sincere attention of the state, not just lip service.
One can imagine that the world approaches towards an unknown end and the teachers need to be more imaginative, creative and really innovative to deal with the challenges lying ahead for them and for their learners. The teaching and student communities who had been beyond the practical touch of classroom teaching for about two years have got exposed to the online teaching and conducting classes using modern devices such as BdREN Zoom, Google Meet drawing the students and teachers closer though they physically lie scattered in various parts of the country and corners of the globe. The success the teachers have gained deserves appreciation but they must not be self-complacent as newer and tougher challenges wait for them. One example can be set here. Covid has forced millions of children to leave their loving places i.e. schools. They even have to leave their living places as well for their survival. How teachers can contribute programmatically to bring these children back to school stands as a big issue for them. When students lack regular feedback from teachers, they may fail to maintain their current learning levels and struggle to develop new knowledge and skills through self-learning, as required. Learning levels may have shifted or loss may have occurred, student will have endured varying levels of isolation and stress during the school closure and students and teacher will need to re-adapt to social life.

Teachers’ capacity gets enhanced through formal training. However, the traditional approach of training will have to embrace different approaches and the teachers must cope with that phenomenon that can be termed as a great skill. They must seize the opportunities dangling before them to develop themselves going beyond the traditional training. Opportunities unfold around them. They just have to seize it. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister declared that all the secondary level classrooms will be digitalized by the year 2030. That sounds sophisticated. The current crisis clearly gives us this message that we cannot depend on face to face teaching only rather get ready for blended learning or with more emphasis on virtual learning and the entire gamut of education must get ready for that.

One research conducted in the USA shows the quality of education depends 20 percent on suitable environment and infra-structural facilities whereas 80 percent depends on quality teachers. This without any doubt reattaches utmost importance to developing the teachers personally and professionally. That remains the biggest challenge for the state as an uneven situation prevails in the entire education world of Bangladesh. Another survey conducted by UNESCO shows that Bangladesh gains 2.8, India and Sri Lanka 20.8, Pakistan 11.3 scores in terms of quality education. A truly deplorable image of education of Bangladesh peeps through this survey, however or whatever might be its measuring unit. Teachers are the key players to change that scenario and the state machinery must nod towards that end. Very recently TIB has released a report on the corruption in educations system particularly in the secondary and higher secondary level that literally makes us frustrated. How the department of education, government and entire corrupt education management living in the ocean of corruption can ensure a sound education for the posterity who are going to lead the nation tomorrow? We must reach a consensus without giving any lip service to banish corruption from the field of education if we really want to establish a peaceful, knowledgeable and meaningful society.

The writer works as an Education Expert in BRAC Education and is President, English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh (ETAB). Email:[email protected]