World Teachers’ Day is held every year on 5 October to celebrate all educators around the world. The theme of World Teacher’s Day 2021 was, ‘Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery.’ The theme recognizes teachers for their tireless efforts to keep teaching even during hardships like the COVID-19 Pandemic.
History of World Teachers’ Day
On October 5, 1966, UNESCO/ILO coordinated an inter-governmental meeting in Paris, France, to elaborate on the condition of teachers, and at the end of the meeting, representatives of both organizations signed the proposal of the meeting. Interestingly, this suggestion portrayed the rights, responsibilities of teachers, and various aspects of the teaching profession globally.
On 5 October 1994, UNESCO established the first World Teachers’ Day with the aim of focusing attention on the participation and development of teachers and highlighting teachers’ issues and needs in regards to schooling.
The date of October 5 was chosen to globally celebrate teacher’s day since it was the commemoration of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO proposal. In taking on this proposal, governments realized the significance of qualified, capable, and motivated teachers.
A Recommendation to cover teaching and research personnel in higher education was also adopted on November 11, 1997, during the 29th session of UNESCO in Paris, France. World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated since 1994.
Finland as a role model in caring for teachers
The Finnish education system is regarded as the best in the world. This is a country that is not only rich in intellectual and educational reform, but has also initiated numerous novel and simple changes that have completely revolutionized its educational system over the years. As we aspire for education recovery with teachers playing a pivotal role, it would be most appropriate to borrow a leave or two from their success story. It must be noted that Finland uses common-sense practices and a holistic teaching approach that strives for equity over excellence. Some of the following are a few things the world can adopt from Finland:
- No standardized testing
- Accountability for teachers (not required)
- Cooperation not competition
- Make the basics a priority
- Starting school at an older age
- Providing professional options past a traditional college degree
- Finns wake up later for less strenuous schooldays
- Consistent instruction from the same teachers
- A more relaxed atmosphere
- Less homework and outside work required
Why should we appreciate teachers?
Teachers should be appreciated globally for the sacrifices that go unnoticed because:
They are experts on their subjects.
They inspire students to see and harness the best in themselves.
They prepare students for life beyond regular continuous assessments and examinations.
They ensure students have an interest in new topics that are often unavoidable, especially in mathematics.
Teachers believe in education for all and are passionate about what they do.
Universities produce first-class students because of the hard work of teachers. If they fail at their work, higher institutions will truly not exist.
“They (teachers) must aim to build an educational relationship with each student, who must feel accepted and loved for who he or she is, with all of his or her limitations and potential.”
Pope Francis, Address, 2015.
As we celebrate today under the slogan “Teachers at the heart of education recovery.”, governments the world over and lovers of quality education must be awake to this clarion call to make the welfare of teachers, and the resolution of work-related challenges facing them, a key priority in not just policy formulation but execution.
For education to recover successfully from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in the livelihood of teachers must be increased, more effective training programs designed, and professional development instituted for the over 71 million teachers globally so they have a new lease of life, recover learning losses, and manage the transition to learning methods driven by technology.
The saying that ‘teachers’ reward is in heaven’ remains constant because no form of remuneration can match the efforts of teachers.
Like so many others, I did not set out to be a teacher, but I can say that today, as always, I am passionate about the teaching profession and am ready to help anyone become the best.
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