Good teachers make good schools. Good schools produce good students. But then, sadly, so much depends on the system itself. We may have good teachers who walked into the campus with the dream of preparing eager young minds to confront the wider world with skills, knowledge and confidence that they require. But they do not stay. Something must be going utterly wrong the way we kill the passion of our teachers.
We talk about the quality of education falling. No one factor is responsible for it, though. What about curriculum that may not be relevant for our children anymore? What about the workload and morale of our teachers? What about student-teacher ratio? While the education policy says that a teacher should teach a class of 24 students, it has been found that our teachers teach classes of between 35 and 50 students. What about benefits they enjoy, meagre pay besides?
Once again our lawmakers and educationists are bringing education and teachers to the limelight. We know that there are problems in the system. We know, too, that remedial measures must be employed. Maybe we should stop addressing or redressing certain small sectors of the problem and begin looking at it holistically. Changing curriculum and not paying our teachers well won’t help. Neither will there be any benefits to be had if we increase workload of our teachers, lessening the required instructional time in the classrooms. A report has found that our teachers work about 57 hours a week, while the policy says that teachers’ working hours should not exceed 22 hours a week.
And what about how we recruit our teachers? As some National Council members suggested, maybe we should raise entry qualification of trainee teachers in the two colleges of education. Trainee’s attitude and aptitude could also be included in selection criteria.
Our teacher morale will always suffer if we do not make teaching an attractive profession, which will lead to teachers leaving the profession. How do we do this? It is worrying when teachers, especially seasoned teachers, are leaving the classrooms for better prospects somewhere. For education to succeed, we must look first at the teachers. How do we keep them in the field?