THE Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Seek knowledge and train to be dignified and calm while seeking knowledge, and humble yourselves with those whom you learn from”. This is among the sayings or hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the relationship between students and teachers. This hadith also indicates the elevated position of teachers in Islamic tradition.
The role of teachers and education is crucial in preparing a better and developed nation in the future. The fate of our young people, the future of the society and the prospect of the nation depends, in large measure, upon teachers and education system. It is teachers and education system that produce responsible citizens who are able to think critically, behave respectfully, act independently, respect the diversities, build social cohesion and consequently construct a united nation.
Duties and responsibilities of teachers to impart and cultivate knowledge have never changed since the beginning of human civilisation. But the situations changed. Changes of the socio environment have made teaching among the most challenging professions.
Being educator for more than twenty years at tertiary level myself, I find two great challenges teachers are facing; Eliminating social ills and building unity of the nation.
As it is used to, the current decade, and also in the future, teachers are not only expected to complete school syllabus and ensure students score the highest marks in whatever examination specified within the education system and policies, but teachers are also expected to solve problems faced by the nation. In the same vein, teachers are expected to develop the young to achieve the highest level of humanity.
The nation now has moved very rapidly and rigorous towards digital era. Meanwhile, development in technologies has made the globe to become a village. As a result, the nation is facing challenges due to uncontrolled information and communication. This situation has developed new dimension within the society and to some extent, affect the social stability and in consequence, has caused social ills.
Thus, teachers and education are expected to cure the illness by educating the young to cope and be resilient towards changes in technologies, and at the same time, retain the indigenous or their origin identity.
In a multi-pot society like Malaysia, we inherit diversity. Thus, apart from fulfilling the expectation to cure social ills, teachers are expected to build unity in the diversity; to unite the nation by teaching the young to live together. Teachers are expected to build a nation with a national identity, respect one another, work in teams, resolve differences in peaceful and respectful manners and participate in a peaceful living together life style.
Be that as it may, teaching and learning to live together is not easy. In fact, living together is the greatest challenge in the 21st Century. In order to live together, history, geography, languages and civic educations are vital. In addition, the nation must also be capable to share the common language and aspirations.
Living in the world today we find that traditional institutions such as family, religious institutions and the communities in general are under threat. This situation has made the teachers’ responsibilities becoming more challenging.
Thus, in assisting teachers to fulfil the expectations of the society the education policies must be able to attract, recruit, train and support competent, caring, knowledgeable and committed teachers. Failure to provide teachers with proper assistance and conducive eco-system means denying the better future generation; it is a breach of human rights.
While we are living in this massive economic, social, technological and political transformations, teachers are to take up new roles. Thus, it is essential that teachers must have integrated knowledge, confidence and be more resourceful. Integration of knowledge is important for teachers to, not only be able to teach the subject of specialisation, but must be able to know, to deliver and to act on general or common subject matter such as patriotism.
As mentioned above, teachers are also expected to be able to raise the sense of unity and to encourage the young to live together. More than that, teachers must be models of what they advocate: they must themselves continue to learn, and must be provided with opportunities to do so. It is therefore, the duties of all, the government, parents and the society, to be together providing serene eco-system for teachers to carry out the expectations that the society has placed over the profession.
While teachers cannot succeed with every child’s excellent score in examinations, forestall social ill or unite the nation to the best level as expected, teachers are the nation’s central hope, not only to build the nation, but to build a better world. Whatever the challenges the teachers are facing, teaching is an amazing vocation. Happy Teachers Day.
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