THERE is a saying that a picture tells a thousand words and the rotogravure pictures of teachers of the colonial era that I have in my lab are no different.
Their hair was combed, teeth were brushed and they were neatly dressed in clean clothes.
The level of professionalism, commitment and reputation that those old-time teachers demonstrated were the best for a colony which was beginning to make a breakthrough into the modern world and at the same time toying with the idea of self-determination.
The students who were raised through the formal education system of that era have become respectable people in their workplace, families, community and country.
Some of them, like Sir Michael Somare, Sir Paulus Matane and Pais Wingti, are internationally and regionally recognised.
The level of service they performed for their families, communities, and country have been immense. Yet some of their achievements are often taken for granted by the present generation.
We often forget to understand the true meaning of independence and also fail to embrace the freedom that we enjoy today.
Our present generation live under the cloud of corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, use of foul language, poor dress codes, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies and procrastination.
The government, churches, businesses, NGOs and development partners and agencies have been trying to fix anti-social behaviour in our society. Teachers should be at the centre of this advocacy work as they are the ones dealing with children on a daily basis.
Besides being paid to teach, teachers have certain obligations which extend outside the classrooms and school grounds.
These obligations usually are not defined or explained in the teaching employment contracts and they are external to what is usually done and experienced in the teaching environment.
These obligations include the view that it is morally wrong for a teacher to engage in anti-social behaviour like swearing, drinking and smoking in public places, have betel nut-stained teeth, littering and being poorly dressed.
As servants of the state, teachers have a big part to play in the development of their students, especially at the elementary and primary levels of education because at these levels, the children are experiencing rapid brain development activities which will shape their future.