Teachers’ Day should be more meaningful than empty slogans

Moses Wawah Onapa

What you need to know:

How can we recover education with poorly remunerated teachers?

UNESCO declared October 5, World Teachers’ Day in 1994, celebrating the great steps for teachers on October 5 1966 when a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris, France, adopted UNESCO / International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation concerning the status of teachers in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Kenyan Peter Tabichi, who has been teaching for 12 years, has been named the best teacher in the world in 2022.

Different countries celebrate as they wish e.g. in India, Teachers’ Day is celebrated every year on September 5, which also marks the birth of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who was an Indian philosopher and the second president of India. They celebrate it that way to commemorate the great achievements of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan to the education reforms in India.

Chile celebrates on October 16, Costa Rica celebrates on December 22, New Zealand celebrates on October 29, South Korea celebrates on May 15.

There are five great things to learn about teachers i.e.1. Confucius was the first teacher. 2. Education for all. 3. The number of African educators is dwindling on the continent. 4. Teaching standards are plummeting. 5. Learning proficiency is down.

On September 24, 2010, the teachers were recognized and a world Teachers’ Day was declared a public holiday in Uganda. It has become a norm where celebrations are happening every year. This year is no exception as we are to celebrate on the theme ‘’teachers at the heart of education recovery’’.

I submit with every sense of humility and respect that this theme is the best given the turbulence we have been going through for the past two years, however, I still doubt its thriving greatness for we have always written these sweet scripts and ended on papers.

The education recovery slogan cannot work best if loopholes aren’t addressed. There are a number of loopholes that need serious intervention for example discriminatory salary scale of science and arts teachers leaving arts counterpart demoralized, how can we recover education in such state? Look at the capitation grant given, according to RAIS (Research association Interdisciplinary Studies) conference proceedings of November 6 – 7 2019. It mentioned financing as a stumbling block, citing NPA (2019) that states that the education expenditure from the national budget had been stagnant or declined in the ranges of 10 -12 percent compared to 22 percent in 2001 – 2002.

The UPE capitation grant has been stagnant between Shs 5,737 and Shs10,000 as compared to Shs59,000 twenty years ago, can this be really enough to sustain education recovery? The national teacher policy of 2019 would clearly bring in a rigorous reform but it remained silent on a number of issues especially on remunerations, working conditions, pension and retirement packages. Hence causing more brain drain and exploitation to the teachers

It is even worse in private institutions as some founders, alias directors, act as semi-gods who have untrimmed powers in any existing law; they determine everything ranging from what to pay, when to pay and why to pay, they hire and fire callously since there is minimal follow-up. The industrial court exists but justice is ever delayed and hence, they quit and give up easily for they always feel frustrated. How can we recover education with poorly remunerated teachers? How can we rejuvenate education standards with peanut pay? How then shall we have education recovery if such is not addressed?

The government should wake up and rise to the occasion if we are to chant this slogan in the correct way.

Moses Wawah Onapa is an educationist, senior citizen and a social commentator