A Day in a Teacher’s Shoes: Challenges and SolutionsOctober 4th, 2023
by Monica Islam
Happy Teacher’s Day – October 5, 2023! After nearly a year of service in the school education sector, I am happy to announce on World Teacher’s Day that I have resigned from my post as a school teacher this past July. Why, one may ask, did I resign from such an honorable position? To answer that, I have to recall the challenges that have led to my decision.
No matter what, the salary is never commensurate with experience and the overall workload. There is a lack of financial incentive for teachers. It is a pity that teachers are often among the lowest earners when compared to other professionals, such as doctor, chef, lawyer, banker, business executive, etc. Teachers become disheartened when they notice that even unskilled, blue-collar workers earn more than them, at least in Bangladesh. A comprehensive financial compensation package with opportunities for advanced growth and development in the career could be a solution to this problem.
Next comes dignity. In order to appease the parents and cater to the commercial needs of the school, teachers are often belittled, often in the presence of parents and students. Why would they respect a teacher if the administrative school authorities themselves disrespect him/her? This adversely affects the chain of command. Teachers are described as “just a teacher.” One unfounded complaint from the parents may even cost the teacher his/her job.
The future of an entire generation lies in the hands of a teacher. However, such a monumental task is not deemed noble nowadays. It is a job that people take up when they do not have recourse to other “well-paid” jobs. This can be partially solved if parents are requested not to complain about teachers for the slightest of inconveniences and especially if corporal punishment is not involved.
The stress that a teacher is put through is another matter of concern. The teacher’s role is often stretched too thin. A teacher has to not only teach and check assignments, but he/she is also required to manage time and class, to decorate the classroom, to speak to parents and counsel them, to submit various records and documents, to prepare students for various extra-curricular activities, etc. Assigning one or more co-teachers or assistant teachers could be a solution.
A school cannot be corporatized when it comes to working hours. Nowadays, the work-life balance of teachers is threatened as they no longer work from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but have to remain in the “office” (school) till 3 p.m. or even longer, like a regular 9 to 5 corporate job. Many homemakers, especially those who have chosen this career due to the flexibility of timings, feel inconvenienced by this.
I still believe that teaching is one of the most prestigious jobs. As a result, I did not bid adieu to teaching. My passion for teaching finds an outlet in the form of private tutoring where one can concentrate mostly on the quality of lessons rather than worry about other extraneous activities. Till these challenges remain and I write to bring a change to the school education sector, I wish everyone a Happy Teacher’s Day again with the hope that teachers regain the prestige that they truly deserve.