In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders" Sadly, here in Uganda they are just among the lowest paid, least motivated civil servants
By Katherine Nabuzale
Imagine life without teachers! Teachers are the guiding light in every pupil/student's life. They nurture the young citizens of a nation. They sow seeds of curiosity and motivation- to work hard, to stay the course and to strive for goals that cannot be bought.
All in all, teachers play a big role in every learner's life because after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom.
In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders" Sadly, here in Uganda they are just among the lowest paid, least motivated civil servants yet entrusted with an arduous responsibility of building the nation. It's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect as the cream of the land.
Like it is said of business, treat your workers with dignity and they will take good care of the customers. The same sentiments can be applied to teachers and learners. There is need especially in rural areas to motivate,inspire and reward good teachers without making excuses for the inadequate ones. It's only then that learners will be in the right place and guidance.
Owing to the fact that the education profession is the foundation of them all, further investment in the education sector especially in teacher training and development is crucial. When schools employ well trained teachers, fewer learners repeat grades and children gain critical thinking skills instead of rote learning and memorisation. Besides, parents are more likely to keep their children in school when they are actually learning. But when poorly trained, poorly paid teachers lead a classroom, there are more drop-outs with families choosing to send their children to work or early marriages instead.
We simply can't keep going in circles over teachers' poor remuneration and less motivation. No, we must fully understand that education quality directly impacts a nation's economic growth and development. If a poor country such as Uganda wants to make sustainable progress in development it must invest in education and investing in education begins with good teachers. “ You don't improve education by demoralizing the people who have to do the work every day ” Diane Ratvitch
Several recommendations for ensuring that every classroom has a qualified teacher include:
Raise professional standards for teachers. Such that when a child walks into a classroom, it is a place of high expectations and high performance.
Improve salaries and working conditions. Many teachers are working under difficult conditions especially in rural and unreachable areas yet there aren't tangible measures to improve their working conditions. Providing such teachers with incentives that can better their working situation should be considered.
Reinvent teacher preparation and professional development. Teacher development programmes should focus on allowing teachers to go further than transmitting knowledge. Because teachers are not just preparing learners for the job market but also preparing future citizens of the country and the global world. Dr. Makito Yurita a senior researcher at National institute for school teachers and staff development Japan, described the teacher as a learner, a thinker and an enquirer. Therefore, there should be platforms for teachers to participate in development discussions pertaining to the goal of education.
Encourage and reward teacher knowledge and skills. In Korea where teachers are very well paid, autonomy in the classroom and professional development opportunities are sighted as motivators for teachers' incredible performance.
This is also the case in Finland, where important emphasis has been put on teachers' s autonomy and flexibility. Teachers in Finland have been given a lot of leeway in how to organize the school day based on a skeleton framework provided to them.
Give them the tools to succeed. If teachers want to find new ways to reach all different types of learners, they need well stocked supply of needed materials and realistic student-to-teacher ratios. Teachers should be availed with materials that can appeal to tactile, auditory and visual learners, and time to evaluate and work with each child. Therefore, provision of the working materials is essential along side finding creative and local solutions that can help minimize the gaps.
Recognize and Respect them. Gone are the days when teaching was considered a noble profession and the teachers as fountains of knowledge. Today the it is perceived as a low status calling hence, connoting zero respect for the profession and consequently, ad impacting recruitment and retention. Finding ways to make the teaching career more attractive to potential candidates and to motivate those already in post is a critical task for education planners. Additionally, the relationships between teachers, administrators and their learners should be positive as well as respectful at all times. At the end of the day, happy teachers produce better-performing students.
Provide platforms and avenues for collaboration. Teachers are lifelong learners. Which means they are constantly trying to grow and flourish. A key way to fuel teacher motivation is to provide opportunities to collaborate.
Raising the motivation and status of teachers as well as retaining high-quality teachers is therefore vital to improving education.
Happy teachers' day!