Every October 5, amazing teachers are globally celebrated for their commitment, dedication and true-blue loyalty to the profession which ever remains the best in the whole world. It is an indisputable fact that teaching is the mother of all professions. But it has been observed that the profession is faced with two major challenges: dearth of professional freedom and empowerment.
This year’s theme, Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers, revolves around the two major challenges teachers face. Teachers need not only freedom, they also need to be empowered in order to achieve their aims and objectives.
The empowerment of teachers emerged as a priority when the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for Education (SDG4).
It requires teachers to enjoy professional independence, freedom and the tools needed to deliver quality education, which must take into account learners’ circumstances, needs and expectations.
But crises, conflicts, and insecurity, alongside rising intolerance and discrimination, as well as budgetary restrictions are some of the factors affecting teachers in much of the world, undermining both their freedom and empowerment.
The theme underscores the two ideas that are highly essential to providing quality education that inspires the learner’s imagination, curiosity and instills a life-long love for learning. It is believed that when these two ideas are missing, the efficacy of the teachers’ pedagogic activities are already tampered with.
Freedom, as the name implies, entails giving teachers the opportunity to discharge their pedagogic duties without encroachments either from the school authorities or parents.
Contrary to the widespread erroneous belief that teaching is as easy as ABC, those of us in the profession are fully aware of the complexity of the profession. Teachers need freedom from those complexities that characterise the profession. Teachers clamour for freedom from the palpable urgency to provide quality education by all means. They need freedom from the overwhelming pressure on them to increase learners’ academic achievements without empowerment. They deserve freedom from the increasing tension to finish the mandated scheme of work prepared by tyros and which fails to take into account, the challenged learners in the class. Don’t they deserve freedom and even protection from the incessant interferences from parents? They are agitating freedom from indiscriminate termination of appointment. They demand a compelling freedom from intimidation from the school authorities. All these are the freedoms this year’s theme was designed to address. In the absence of the freedoms highlighted, discharge of pedagogic duties will never bring expected results.
Teachers’ autonomy in some instances may not engender positive results, for some teachers are simply ineffective and lazy. Given such teachers freedom may ipso facto worsen the situation. The dedicated ones deserve the autonomy while those ineffective need administrative support to help improve their performance.
The other agitation of teachers this year is empowerment. Why teaching is a complex enterprise is due to the fact that it requires concreteness. The essence of teaching is to facilitate understanding. Gone are the days when a teacher explained a concept without the use of audio-visual materials. The modern style of teaching demands employment of a variety of learning-enhancing instructional materials. Teachers’ efforts are being jeopardized by lack of instructional materials. They are not empowered with the tools and materials needed to execute the assignments they are tasked with. Are teachers magicians? Empowerment of teachers is not limited to instructional materials. Teachers’ welfarism and lucrative remuneration are also integral parts of the empowerment they are agitating. These are motivating factors that can bring the best out of the teachers.