Now teachers’ voice is heard in the global forums to make this planet better giving better education to the students. In the 7th Asia- Pacific Teachers’ Conference held in Kuala Lumpur between September 18 and 20, 2013 the voice of teachers again echoed quality education. Sixty-three teacher associations from thirty-four counties gathered here. The principal objective of the conference was ‘Quality Public Education: Building Asia Pacific Social and Economic Future.’ We cannot afford to fail our children,” said Yuzuru Nakamura, Chairperson of the Education International Asia-Pacific Regional Committee, at the opening of the ceremony of the conference. ‘Children must be guaranteed a better future through quality public education, and by thinking globally and acting locally, he stressed. “A Harvard Professor once advised one of his students: If you want to do something difficult, go into teaching,” Extremely valuable comment indeed. Really, teachers can change the face of a nation through quality teaching. Teaching does not cover only several hours lecture or work in the classroom. It goes beyond the classroom. Educators must teach students to think, and “quality education for all means that everyone must be a free thinker.” “Quality education is not simply a public good. The vision of quality education is not only defined in terms of learning outcomes, but also in terms of the full development of the individuals and their contribution to society. “We believe that quality education is based on three pillars – quality teaching, quality teaching and learning tools, and quality teaching and learning environments, at all levels of education and in all communities,” she highlighted. “Our aim is to create awareness among governments, inter-governmental agencies, and society generally that quality education for all is a central part of any post-2015 development strategy.”
The Malaysian Deputy Education Minister, Dato’ Mary Yap, welcomed delegates and observers, saying, “Quality education is not only a human right, it is crucial for the future of Asia-Pacific”. Investing in education is good for a country’s budget in the long run, she added, as countries that invested in human capital via education have made progress in terms of development.” She also stressed that a key factor for the quality of public education is producing quality teachers, being trained well before joining the profession, and in-service training. Governments must invest generous sums in public education and make sure that students successfully end their education, Dato’ Mary Yap said. “Good teachers will ensure a sustainable quality of education, which means, among other things, increasing their salaries, increasing the guarantee for transport allowance for those working in remote areas, giving more incentives for young people to join the profession and remain in it. ”Teaching and learning environments need to be designed in such a way that they support teachers and education employees, Dato’ Mary Yap also insisted. The teachers of Bangladesh and the policy makers have ample food for though in these valuable comments.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) show that the combined efforts of governments, intergovernmental organizations, trade unions and civil society can have positive outcomes. She said ‘MDGs are the most successful global anti-poverty push.’ That’s why, she explained, more MDGs can be reached by 2015, and more efforts are urgently needed to achieve them in the last two years.“ Technology is not a silver bullet, and classroom teachers remain the best influence on students, so there must be an appropriate support to classroom teachers,” stressed Dato’ Mary Yap. “Quality public education is a fundamental pillar to build Asia-Pacific’s economic and social future and it contributes to the personal and professional development of individuals, as well as the development of society at large.”
Quality education promotes peace, democracy, solidarity and intercultural understanding, and provides skills to understand local and global issues. Through education, society equips young people with attitudes, skills and values to play their role in their communities. The UN Charter and the International Human Rights Declaration, due to their independence, are applicable to all, regardless of their religion, beliefs, cultural background or sexual orientation. Hopgood, the president of Education International, indicated: “The key to end discrimination is quality education, supported by tolerance and cultural understanding. We need education for life, and education must make students citizens and actors in society Boosting the quality of education requires a massive investment in the teaching profession, in teachers’ pay, employment conditions and training.’ Deprofessionalization is the main challenge faced by the profession nowadays, she said. Now teachers must run professional battle. Now teachers don’t have time to play the same role as the teachers did earlier.
Let’s not build barriers, but bridges, and promote human rights and quality education for all children of this planet! The quality of learning and teaching drops when teachers have no rights and live in poverty. We never can ensure quality education keeping the quality people outside this profession. We never can expect quality education keeping the teacher on the streets to realize their demands. We never can expect quality teaching giving just verbal emphasis on education. We must address the loopholes in the real sense of the term. Bangladesh strides towards quality education but don’t have scope to be complacent. Still need ‘miles to go before we sleep.’
MASUM BILLAH: Program Manager and Team Leader (English), BRAC Education Program, Brac and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA), Brac, Dhaka.