Arts and Culture

Reflections of an AfroCanadian | World Teachers Day | Chapter 7

Friday, October 5th is World Teachers Day.

Everyone has had an encounter with a teacher. Like in every profession, there are good and bad teachers. I can say that I am here because of a teacher who believed in me. A good teacher.

Teachers are human. They get it wrong sometimes.  There is countless documentation of miracles wrought by the persistence and insight of a teacher who just didn’t give up. We need teachers more today than we have ever been. In our schools, we need motivated teachers, in afterschool programs, we need teachers. In churches and prisons, we need teachers.

We need them cognitively and transformationally. Cognitively for the rudiments of learning they teach. Transformationally because our teachers also inspire and motivate their students.

Simply put, most teachers are angels. Literally.

I have had several teachers at different points in my life who inspired me to be more. My dad once told me how his high school teacher guided him to study Economics. He was a distinguished economist in his lifetime, working with the Federal Government. He rose to the top of his career as a civil servant winning coveted awards in the process.

Teaching can be an undervalued and an unappreciated profession. In many countries, teachers are not well paid and they struggle to feed and take care of their families.

World Teachers’ Day 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) that recognises education as a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education, ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children. This year’s theme, “the right to education means the right to a qualified teacher, has been chosen to remind the global community that the right to education cannot be achieved without the right to trained and qualified teachers”. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization( UNESCO), to reach the 2030 Education Goals of universal primary and secondary education, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers.

This may be a Herculean challenge in the West because some state-funded schools have lost the plot in the control and behaviour of children in the classroom. The teacher is expected to deliver results from students who are purposed not to learn. An article in the Independent suggests teachers in the UK should overlook low-level disruption and praise those kids who are behaving well. The report suggests that over time, with patience, the poorly behaved children will stop behaving poorly. Many school inspectors and policymakers at the Department of Education have never stepped into a classroom before. They simply have no clue. How could they? Their kids are educated in private schools. Private schools in the United Kingdom are generally for the upper middle class and those who can afford to fork out an average of about eight thousand pounds per annum.

The truth is when you have ten out of thirty children behaving badly, it becomes hard or nearly impossible for the teacher to teach.  This has an impact on the learning experience.  The British Broadcasting News (BBC) reported in June that ‘the number of teachers working in state-funded schools in England had fallen to its lowest level since 2013′.  The joint general secretary of the largest teachers’ union, the NEU  said ‘qualified teachers leaving the profession outnumbered new recruits’. She cited excessive workload, pay, and work-life balance as reasons why some teachers were leaving the profession.

The situation in parts of the United States of America is also dismal. The website published in June that ‘overall, around 8% of teachers leave the profession every year, according to the Learning Policy Institute, citing the Department of Education. Another 8% move to other jobs in education. Less than a third of teacher attrition is down to retirement’. The biggest reason cited for leaving, whether it was to retire or to take another job was dissatisfaction -with the teaching profession, the lack of opportunities to advance, the meagre administrative support, or the working conditions.

In the province of Alberta,  Global News reports that there are 311 reported incidents of student violence against Edmonton teachers in 2016 to 2017 school year, according to an analysis of employee incident reports obtained by Global News from the Edmonton Public school board (EPSB) and the Edmonton Catholic School District (ECSD) through Freedom of Information requests. ‘Kicked, punched and scratched were words used in the headline for this report.

When you read that report,  you feel sad especially if your children are in a public school. The report paints a  negative particular picture of students who attend the schools and the teachers who work in them. It is not all bad though.  Canada has one of the best education systems in the world.

According to the 2014 Education at a Glance report by the OECD, Canada has the highest percentage, among member countries, of adults aged 25-64 who have obtained a tertiary education – 53%.  The OECD average is 32%. The website further reveals that Canada ranks first among 34 OECD countries in the proportion of 25-64 year-olds with a college education (24%), but is tied for seventh place (with Korea and Denmark) in the proportion of adults with a university education (28%)’.

There are teachers up and down Canada imparting lives, working hard, teaching their hearts out, doing all they can to serve the students in their classrooms. These silent warriors are the ones we want to celebrate here at JacanaBooks.

We believe in our teachers.

So please do us a favour, we know it is not Christmas or the end of the school term. Can you join us in appreciating your children’s teachers? Buy them a card, a gift, a plant.

Let them know you appreciate them.

Aristotle said ‘ those who educate children are more to be honoured than they who produce them. For they only gave them life, those the art of living well’.

Here is an acrostic poem for Teacher by Ruhee Parelkar

Teaches me good things
Every single day
All through the year.
Cares for me
Helps me in my work
Each day with her is fun.
Real fun indeed!

Happy World Teachers Day!!!

If you are a teacher, have a cup of tea on us. We love you back.








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