CHITRAL: This is apropos the article “The quest for good teachers” by Abbas Rashid published in The Express Tribune on February 19. The writer hints at an issue as important as countering terrorism. Good teachers are indispensable towards building a strong nation. They serve as a medium for translating national dreams into reality through the intellectual tradition which they inculcate in the minds of young people. In the past, teachers were counted as one of the most respected class of citizens in society.
With the advent of private schools, the teacher-student dynamic and the teacher’s relationship with society changed altogether. Now, education has developed into an industry, and is available with various price tags like any other commodity in the market. The more money one coughs up, the better the access becomes to quality education. There is a crucial relationship between money and man in the race of keeping the status of teachers in high esteem. Gone are the days when virtue preceded material well-being. What could be the level of respect for a teacher in the eyes of a student whose tuition fee is more than the amount of salary his/her teacher gets? The answer is obvious.
In addition, the mushrooming growth of tuition centres, an elixir to scoring well in exams, has brought down the sanctity of both schools and teachers. Teachers play the most crucial role in bringing about a positive change in society. It is the duty of the government to ensure that this important social institution is kept well-preserved. In some developed societies, even the court is seen to rise whenever a teacher appears in the court of law, showing the level of respect that society owes to a teacher. On the other hand, if teachers’ respect and social status is not preserved, then schools will breed merely literate individuals who, in turn, will spoil cultural values, albeit, unwittingly. Teachers, like other professionals, need recognition, a revised service structure, compensation and benefits, growth opportunities, a say in policy matters, post-retirement benefits and independence from political affiliations. This will attract a pool of well-qualified candidates to this sacred profession and schools will become the harbinger of change. The government is requested to reconsider its priorities towards teachers in Pakistan. They are ones who can nip the vices of tomorrow in the bud, and promise Pakistan a future that will make us all proud.
Syed Gohar Ali Shah
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2015.