World Teachers' Day - 2015

A teacher's intangible yet priceless reward is witnessing an appreciation from his or her pupils. A picture of a teacher receiving symbols of gratitude is indeed an inspiring sight to behold. Across many countries, inside schools, World Teacher's Day 2015 is going to be celebrated with the expected demonstration of thankfulness for those who are tasked with the noble mission of preparing the young for society.

An elementary school teacher with a bouquet of flowers (Courtesy of Ibaba Elementary School, Paete, Laguna, Philippines)
This year's celebration of World's Teachers' Day attempts to go much farther than merely acknowledging the vital role played by educators worldwide. The theme for this year is Empowering Teachers: Building Sustainable Societies.

World's Teachers' Day 2015

The specific message for this year's celebration is nicely summarized in the following statement:

Teachers should be empowered through the provision of decent working conditions, well-resourced, safe and healthy working environments, trust, professional autonomy and academic freedom.

Empowering teachers requires much more than giving teachers flowers. Teachers do deserve the recognition for their immense contribution to society. However, teachers can not fulfill their job if they are not equipped. We can honor our soldiers for example by recognizing them with parades and celebrations but empowering them means providing excellent training and equipment.

Empowering teachers first involves proper training. Higher education institutions must take teacher training as a serious endeavor with far reaching consequences. Teachers who receive low quality education in colleges cannot contribute positively to basic education. Empowering teachers therefore must begin at providing quality education to future teachers. Fresh graduates from teaching colleges need mentoring. They need support as they face a classroom of young minds for the first time. Right from the start and throughout their career, teachers' working conditions need to be decent. These conditions must match the responsibilities teachers assume for the benefit of society. Teachers need salaries that are adequate so that they can devote their full attention and time to students. Teachers have to be entrusted so that they can appropriately respond to the needs of every student. This requires no less than autonomy and freedom. Only with responsibility can a teacher truly be empowered to be creative, resourceful and innovative. This, of course, is a necessary ingredient for a sustainable society.

Yes, we must show our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our teachers. But we must likewise keep in mind that teachers need so much more than just our thankfulness. Teachers need our support. Otherwise, teachers cannot serve as the shining stars we expect and need in every classroom.