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World Teachers' Day: Why should you learn to teach?

On World Teachers' Day, we think about why teachers matter.
BY Pratibha Alagh |   05-10-2018

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For World Teachers’ Day on October 5 every year, UNESCO and Education International (EI) design a theme-based campaign to give the world a better understanding of the teaching profession and the importance of teachers in shaping society. This year is even more special as October 5[L1]  also marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “that recognizes education as a key  fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children.”[1]

This year’s theme is, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” It focuses on reminding the global community that educated and qualified teachers are necessary to facilitate the right to education. The context to the theme is the increasing shortage of teachers across nations, especially for vulnerable populations, including differently-abled children and girls. According to a World Economic Forum report, 74 countries, primarily across Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe face a severe shortage of teachers.[2] The figures for some countries such as Nigeria and India (falling behind over 350,000 primary teachers) emphasize why the UN is giving such a high priority to recruiting and training teachers.

Keeping this in mind, we come to the question why should you learn to teach? Imagine a utopian society with no schools, essentially no one to teach you how to write or read. What happens then? Simply put, your learning will be set back by years. You can learn how to write or read but at a snail’s speed. And that’s what is happening with thousands of children out there who go to schools where there are no dedicated teachers. A study of parameters such as instructional quality, universal or country-specific models, teacher qualifications, etc., underlined the impact of teachers’ preparedness on overall learning outcomes of students. It concluded that if the teachers are prepared better for the challenges, the students automatically benefit from that.

Finally, considering the other side of things, some say that technology (such as e-learning, video modules, etc.) will disrupt the educational space and make teachers redundant. However, no matter how extensively technology is developed, it cannot provide students food for thought – it cannot help them reflect. Technology can enable access but that is not adequate in and of itself. A trained teacher can effectively utilize technological resources to create a conducive learning environment from which students extract the most. Therefore, teachers are not just necessary to learning, they are vital to it.

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