Teaching: Safeguarding Its Nobility!

Teachers in Cameroon last October 5, 2023 joined their peers the world over to celebrate yet another International Day in their honour. As has been the tradition since 1994, the day celebrates the work and worth of teachers. Understandably so as education remains the most powerful tool, especially in a competitive world where knowledge is equated only to power.
Teachers facilitate learning, spread knowledge and push learners to be curious and excel in their domains. They therefore deserve to be acknowledged, thanked and appreciated for all they do. It is for this reason that the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) launched the day to celebrate the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This was when governments unanimously recognized the contribution of motivated teachers who work tirelessly to lay solid bases for nation building.
Unlike in other countries, the day was celebrated in Cameroon under a particular context –The somewhat feeling of ‘not-so-good treatment’ on the part of teachers and ‘all attention for teachers’ on the part of government.  The feeling of ‘abandonment’ by the teachers on whom society relies; tenable or not, is certainly borne out of the near recklessness of some State officials who parade their decision-granted or dubious emoluments to the distaste of others.
However, imagining that there is someone somewhere who has anything against a teacher would be misleading. For, anyone in whatever high office passed through a teacher and cannot cut the bridge on which he/she crossed to prominence. That would be folly!  
Keen observers would agree at least that the government has been attentive to the grievances of teachers and increasingly works within the available means to give them acceptable working conditions. Evidence is that since teachers tabled their complaints in 2022 of the payment of salary supplements, housing allowances, incremental positions, family allowances and the total payment of salaries for newly-recruited teachers, government stepped in, dialogued with leaders of the various teachers’ trade unions and proposed remedial measures whose implementation is on course. 
That seven cabinet Ministers hosted a press conference on September 28, 2023 to communicate on what has been done and how the remaining payments will be done lends credence to the government’s good faith. This explains why Secondary Education Minister expected applause from the teachers and public, not the continuous grumbling.  Understandably so as despite the unfavourable economic environment under which the measures are being implemented, the government has redoubled efforts to provide appropriate solutions to the demands of teachers. Statistics are telling: 21,102 secondary school teachers who were receiving two thirds of their salaries have received full payment, worth over FCFA 49 billion and the housing allowance of 9,925 teachers have been paid. With regards to advancement decisions, 69,463 have been validated, out of the over 70,000 earmarked for the first phase and 3,701 files of family allowance processed and payment made.  Not all might have been done but the pace ignites hopes of better days ahead for the teachers.
Instituting a platform - Academic Honours, through which excelling teachers across the country are rewarded yearly tells of the importance government attaches to education and those who champion it. No one doubts the fact that teachers play an essential role in education, most especially in the lives of the students they teach in the classroom. What defines a teacher is thus his/her ability to teach students and leave a positive impact on them. In fact, the role of a teacher in education goes beyond teaching. In today’s world for instance, teaching has different facets and a teacher has to carry out the part of being an external parent, counselor, mentor, role model, and so on. Teachers are thus logically indispensable because they change lives, inspire dreams, and push the limits of human potential. Vital roles indeed!
It is an open secret therefore that World Teachers’ Day goes beyond simple recognition and gratitude for what has been done. It is a critical opportunity to reflect on history, on the challenges teachers encounter, and to contemplate how policy changes and community efforts can positively transform the teaching profession. In Cameroon for instance, acknowledging the hurdles educators fa...

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