Teachers: the cornerstone of education [Archives:2004/777/Community]

September 30 2004

By Shaker Al-Molsi
Yemen Times Staff

In a remote area, a host of children are seen playing in the schoolyard when they should be studying. When asked, they reply, “No teachers are there.” The school is closed down and its principal has set off to procure new teachers from the district education department since the previous ones do not attend. They have made arrangements with corrupt officers to be absent in return of a sum of money deducted from their salaries. They pursue their own interests at the expense of their integrity, and even boast that they can get out of it making unlawful profits.
In main cities, some students confess that their teacher's lack of expertise and punctuality compels them not to look up at him. This is why they rely on self-study or hire a tutor.
It has become almost a phenomenon, particularly in rural areas, that school graduates display a poor mastery over their subjects. They simply attribute that to their teachers' inefficiency or absence. They may not be telling the whole truth, but they are victims.
These problems have in some way or the other link to teachers and are a warning sign of a collapse-threatened system of education, which is central to development, strengthens nations, and opens new perspectives. The fact is that the advanced nations are thus because they take the path of education, and invest in it, targeting in the first place teachers because they are the custodians who can upgrade (or degrade) the entrusted kids. Sure, we will never be able to make the future that we want and catch up with developed nations unless we overhaul our educational system so that it meets the need.
Unfortunately, gone are the days when teachers were so venerated, seen as holy creatures, and occupied a special status in this country. Since the teacher's image was damaged, the education quality suffered a decline.
The major problem appears to be manifested in teachers being unprepared both psychologically and in terms of their knowledge. Many teachers are not willing to do their tasks and fulfill their mission. They either teach reluctantly or flee the scene. They are primarily concerned with gaining salaries and worry not about how well they perform, if they do at all.
Moreover, some teachers do not represent the ideal to the pupils who become no longer motivated. Who claim to the contrary should visit schools both in urban and rural districts where the slackness of students prompted by the indifference of teachers is clear.
The problem of education began when a large number of teachers were recruited without having been prepared for the profession nor did they have the desire for it. Their number has been increasing and, unluckily, hobbling the educational process.
The alpha and gamma of any sound educational system are the well-qualified teachers who sense the burden over their shoulders, and are never goaded into apathy under any circumstance. They have a vital importance since they build the capacity of the whole community, and are especially important in basic grades where students are shapeable. However, a commonplace policy is that untrained instructors are assigned to teach early stages, which is a big mistake.
Education is witnessing great strides at present. The ministry is trying to expand the base of education by adding more facilities, furnishing, and staffing them. It has also allotted a large budget for training teachers across the country in 2005. But if in-service teachers are not continually trained and reminded of their ethical and humanitarian responsibility, we would have institutions and facilities that are useless and inefficient. The generation of the future would be helpless, and whatever the state spends on education would be in vain.