October 5 is observed as World Teachers’ Day every year to celebrate and recognize the importance of teachers throughout the globe. In the past one and a half years, we have all understood the value of teachers even more. They have been at the forefront to ensure continued education for millions of children across the globe. Thus, they definitely deserve a special day dedicated to them.
Origin of World Teachers’ Day
World Teacher’s Day was first observed in 1994 by UNESCO to focus on teachers and their concerns. This day is celebrated to honour UNESCO’s 1996 adoption of the Recommendations Concerning Teachers’ status to ensure the Fundamental Right of Education for all.
These recommendations were adopted in 1996. They dealt with the rights and responsibilities of teachers, their achievements, preparations, and education. These recommendations also covered the aspects of recruitment, employment, teaching, and learning conditions. These along with the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel in 1997 stressed on higher education. Governments from all over the world have recognized these guidelines and taken steps to value teachers in ensuring quality equation for all.
Theme for this year
Keeping in view the impact of lockdown on teachers and educators, the theme of World Teachers’ Day 2021 is “Teachers at the heart of education recovery”. This time, the focus is on the impact of the pandemic on the profession. It also seeks effective policy response and actions required to empower educators and help them realize their full potential.
Why teachers deserve a special day
Teachers play a pertinent role in education. And the exert a significant influence on their students, especially in the formative years. Education is not limited to just course work. Thus, teachers have a bigger responsibility of shaping students as individuals, and in ensuring that they grow holistically. A good teacher can motivate students to stay positive, learn good values, and contribute to a wholesome future for themselves, their families, and their country.
India has produced many great teachers. For example, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as ‘Teachers’ Day’ in India. Savitribai Phule is remembered for starting schools for girls of the Dalit community. Great educators like Swami Vivekanand and A.P.J Abdul Kalam are also widely celebrated throughout the country.
Teaching-learning during COVID
The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the teaching-learning landscape. As the mode of education shifted online, laptops and smartphones became the new classrooms. Teachers who work with Smile Foundation have gone the extra mile more often than we can count. A case in point is mentioned here.
Geetha, a Mathematics teacher at a Mission Education Centre run by Smile Foundation at Hyderabad says that Mathematics is a difficult subject to teach. During the pandemic, it was tougher as the teaching shifted online. “Due to collected efforts by other teachers and constant support by Smile Foundation, we used various online modes to teach children and eventually shifted to offline classes”.
On the one hand, there were many teachers who weren’t familiar with the online mode of teaching. Initially they had a difficult time in coping with new “classroom” spaces. Adjusting to the online mode was as difficult for teachers as it was for the students. Teachers had to become innovators during this period to ensure that their students did not suffer any learning losses during this difficult time. At the same time, thousands of educators across the world were also laid off due to huge economic losses following the pandemic.
Teacher’s role in the post-COVID world
Due to the pandemic, a lot of teaching-learning has become digital. As a result, there seems to be a potential threat to the role of teachers in school/college education. Another aspect of the teaching profession is the increase in digital divide. Therefore, there is an urgent need to re-imagine the role of teachers in the post-COVID world and take adequate steps to ensure that our educators are protected and empowered.