Teaching-Learning

World Teachers’ Day: Both State and Teachers Together Can Change

World Teachers' Day; Photo credit: Flickr
World Teachers' Day; Photo credit: Flickr
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

2020 is the year that has seen an unprecedented crisis across the globe and the World Teachers’ Day’ is being observed with the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future” seems relevant to the current global scenario. The COVID-19 pandemic has really and significantly put the entire education system of the globe in serious challenges and crises. Against this scenario’s backdrop, the world is observing teachers’ day with some renewed hope, energy, determination, and innovative approach.

The education system run privately has witnessed a tougher situation as the teachers belonging to this category have to run their days and families with having partial salary or even without any salary. Triple challenge they have to face during this pandemic which has been quite unexpected. We know that `World Teachers’ Day honors 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.

Today we see teachers enjoy the opportunities of receiving training of various categories while simultaneously the crisis of education or the cry of disseminating quality teaching gets stronger as the learners basically lack the phenomena; they need to face the current challenges and the changing situations of the globe. Nor can the teachers equip the learners well to embrace those challenges. So, teachers’ development first that really receives a less priority issue.  

The principal objective of SDG4 tells the necessity of qualified teachers to produce quality students leading to educational institutions and the whole system of education places as real human resources producing zones. How can that happen? By observing teachers’ day? By increasing teachers’ salaries? By introducing more budget in this sector? Basically, this sector needs sound and sincere attention of the state that sees a questionable step. Education is a very sophisticated issue that cannot enjoy the honest attention of the state and globe as political desire and principles should be very much pure and truly professional.  

One can imagine that the world approaches an unknown end and the teachers need to be more imaginative and create pictures in mind how they are going to deal with their learners, face newer challenges and what sort of rapport building they will have to rethink. The teaching and student communities who have been beyond the practical touch of classroom teaching for six months have got exposed to the online teaching and conducting classes using modern devices such as bdren, zoom, Google meet that have definitely drowned the students and teachers closer though they physically lie scattered in various parts of the country and corners of the globe.

In this sense, COVID-19 appears as a blessing as we have been forced to adopt this virtual means of teaching and learning with a touch of sophistication. Still many teachers seem to be quite away from this world and they need to be cautious enough whether they will be able to adjust with the days waiting for us all. Will the students come to the teachers’ house to have private tuition as used to do before COVID or will they search for the latest materials they have been exposed to during this COVID -19 tenure? Will the teachers be able to satisfy the needs of the learners using only white and black textbooks they used before the COVID crisis? Students have got a third eye and many teachers also. However, those who maintained a safe distance from this way, might have to wait tougher days ahead.

Over 1.57 billion learners at all levels remain out of school, representing over 90% of the world’s total enrolled student population. By mid-April 2020, almost every country across the world implemented nationwide school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the educational response has been on ensuring learning continuity through the mobilization of a range of high-, low-, and no-tech resources and modalities to bring learning content from school settings into learners’ homes—pre-existing inequalities within education systems where vulnerable and marginalized learners are disproportionately affected.

This is best represented through the global digital divide, where almost half of the world’s learners are disconnected from the Internet resulting in significant educational disruption during school closures. At the heart of these responses are the millions of teachers, heads of the institutions, and other education personnel, who are the frontline workers during any crisis. Every state should employ here real thoughts to equip the left-out students and teachers who remain out of the modern devices and those who reluctantly did not participate in spite of having the opportunity might be sensitized by the state. Not only states, but the teacher leaders should also come forward to lead the teachers towards that end.

Training stands as a primary step to develop the capacity of the teachers so that they can perform well in the classroom. The capacity to train teachers requires significant national investments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just 72 percent of primary teachers in low-income countries have been trained compared to 84 in middle-income countries. All these talks about the traditional training that took place face to face and mostly based on paper and pencil and demonstration was also face to face.

Questions come; will these training be able to stand in good stead to encounter the situation lying ahead without giving any transparent notion of the digital teaching days coming? And the institutions and the governments will take time to reshape the training programs for the teachers to enable them to encounter the unforeseen situation they are going to embrace. To immediately grasp the situation, teachers themselves will have to equip so that the students of the newer world can find relevance in their teaching-learning and class conduction.

The Bangladeshi Prime Minister declared that all the secondary level classrooms would 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 rather than get ready for blended learning or with more emphasis on virtual learning and we all, I mean, the entire education system should get ready for that.

Around the world, teachers are working individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to ensure that learning could be continued. Thus COVID-19 has created opportunities to expose leadership, creativity and innovation. On the contrary, another group of teachers shows reluctance to get involved in this newly adopted teaching-learning situation. Greater responsibility lies with the teachers to bring the students back to the classroom and present a new, changed and innovative classroom teaching. Teacher leadership, collaboration, well-being and finally getting well accustomed to the technology wait for the teachers which they themselves will have to combine.

Only state, society and materialistic demands cannot address the gaps surfacing in education. That should be the mutual focal point of both teachers and the state.  That should be the aim of World Teachers’ Day.

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as a Program Manager in BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and Vice-President of Bangladesh English Language Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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