By Rudina Vojvoda
NEW YORK, USA, 4 October 2011 – As school enrolment continues to climb throughout most of the developing world, the roles teachers play in our lives have become even more crucial. Tasked with providing a quality education to our current generation of students, teachers also have a significant hand in shaping the future by instilling in children essential cultural and social values such as tolerance, gender equality and open dialogue. Despite the heavy responsibility placed on their shoulders, in many parts of the world they are rewarded poorly and in some countries even subject to deadly attacks.
Listen to the Podcast in Streaming MP3 format
This Wednesday will mark the annual celebration of World Teachers’ Day, and to commemorate the event, UNICEF’s podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with Jamila Marofi, a high school teacher from Afghanistan, Gorma Minnie, a school administrator from Liberia and Professor Fernando Reimers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in America.
According to Professor Reimers, many societies expect teachers to be the sole factor in providing a high quality education, but this expectation often leads to disappointment.
“I think one of the sources of this lack of appreciation is a misconception that high quality teaching is an individual solo act,” he explained, adding that more emphasis should be placed on the construction of systems that would empower every teacher to be excellent.
Professor Reimers went on to highlight the need to provide educators with the proper training before and during the school year as well as creating an environment conducive to effective teaching.
Lack of resources
Sharing her experience as an educator in Kabul, Afghanistan, Ms. Marofi pointed to a lack of resources as the main challenge to teachers in her country. “They [teachers] have no materials to use,” she said, “they just teach from the book and the chalk.”
Ms. Minnie was more hopeful, stressing that although teachers in Liberia are facing similar challenges, there has been some improvement. “As we are speaking, the government is taking the lead to increasing teachers’ salary and encourage them to be in the classroom,” she said.
Finally, Proffesor Reimers invited everyone to celebrate the World Teachers’ Day by publicly recognising their favourite teacher, stating: “Shed light into the people who are doing good work and make it your task to let other people know the work of teachers.”