Teachers need everyone’s support

Editorial

IT was quite disappointing that October 5 went by without much fanfare.
This day is supposed to have been marked with celebrations because if it weren’t for these people, we won’t be where we are today.
Every year, the world marks World Teachers’ Day on Oct 5 to celebrate the limitless contributions made by teachers around the world.
Day after day, year in and year out, these dedicated women and men guide and accompany students through the world of learning, helping them discover and fulfil their potential.
In doing so, teachers not only help shape the future of millions of children, they also help shape a better world for all.
Teachers are a critical foundation of every society’s long-term strength – providing children, young people and adults with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their potential.
But around the world, far too many teachers don’t have the freedom and support they need to do their work. That is why the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day – “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” – reaffirms the value of empowered teachers and recognises the challenges many encounter in their professional lives.
Being an empowered teacher means having access to high-quality training, fair wages, and opportunities for professional development. It also means having the freedom to support the development of national curricula – and the professional autonomy to choose the most appropriate methods and approaches that enable more effective, inclusive and equitable education. Furthermore, it means being able to teach in safety and security during times of political change, instability, and conflict.
This goal in Papua New Guinea cannot really be achieved unless we increase the supply of qualified teachers and empower them to be agents of educational change in the lives of the students they teach.
How can we recruit these new teachers and attract them to the vital profession of teaching when around the world so many teachers are undertrained, underpaid and undervalued?
Many teachers still work with inadequate contracts and pay. They often live in difficult conditions, and lack appropriate initial training, professional development, and consistent support.
Teaching could be an attractive, first-choice profession – if teachers were valued, and if their professional status as educators reflected the enormous impact their profession has on our shared future.
That means providing them with continuing training and development to support them in their critical role of educating all children, in all contexts – including the poorest, most remote communities, and in communities in crisis.
It means compensating them properly and giving them the tools they need to do their indispensable jobs.
It means putting in place policies that safeguard and reinforce the status of teachers – beginning by giving teachers a place at the table and an active role in decision-making that affects their work.
And it means improving the efficiency and effectiveness of education systems at every level.
You cannot get the best students to give you the evidence or testimony of quality education if you do not have well-trained teachers.
Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today.
It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum, and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people.
And the message from the PNG Teachers’ Association has always been to look after the teachers – improve their salaries, give them housing, train them, provide teaching materials for teachers and students and classrooms to make learning conducive.
Teaching should not be considered as simply a job, but a dedication.
A good teacher is one who wishes to share, contribute, to develop good characters.
Studies have shown that the single most important factor determining the quality of education a child gets is the quality of the teacher.
A teacher probably spends more time with a child than a parent does, so the teacher has a strong influence.
If the education authorities believe this, then they must ensure that teachers and the teaching profession get adequate support.

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