Twenty-eight years ago on 5th October, 1994, UNESCO officially carved out this day for the celebration of educators and the important role they play in societies around the world.
5th October was selected for the commemoration of World Teachers’ Day, as it was on this date in 1966 that a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris adopted the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, in cooperation with the ILO.
According to UNESCO, the recommendation establishes the rights and responsibilities of teachers, as well as international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.
Since its adoption, the Recommendation has been considered an important set of guidelines to promote teachers’ status in the interest of quality education.
5th October also celebrates the adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in 1997 of the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel.
This year, the occasion is being celebrated under the theme “The transformation of education begins with teachers” which reflects on the purpose for which the day was established.
Here in Antigua and Barbuda, despite the very public unfolding of several issues which are affecting education professionals, time has been carved out for reflection and celebration on this day.
Ahead of World Teachers’ Day on Tuesday, Director of Education, Clare Browne, declared that teachers “affect eternity” as he extended gratitude to the nation’s educators for their selfless work.
“I wish every teacher within the Antiguan and Barbudan teaching service, an exceptionally meaningful World Teachers’ Day. This year, the day is being recognized under the theme, ‘The transformation of education begins with teachers’.
“The theme acknowledges that there is a global call for the transformation of education but, more significantly, it clearly suggests that teachers are not just an integral part of the transformation of education, they are the nuclei and agents of the radical changes which are currently critical.
“Teachers, by dint of hard work and great sacrifice, make an unparalleled contribution to the lives of the students they teach. Today, we pause to consider the energetic creativity, phenomenal commitment, positive inspiration, and strategic innovation which teachers deliver day in and day out, school year after school year.
“We are humbled by the sum of your service. Thank you for all that you do and will do in the future,” Director Browne said.
In his message, Browne encouraged educators to remain flexible and open to changing their approach as needed to meet the “complex needs of students”.
He also said that it is vital that teachers embrace new technologies which, in turn, will enable them to equip their students with the tools necessary to take full advantage of emerging opportunities.
The country’s chief educator went on to say that this year’s World Teachers’ Day theme holds an important message not only for teaching professionals but governments and the agencies within them that administer the field.
“Our government must recognise that the demands that are placed on teachers must be supported by greater investments in teachers. We need an urgent recalculation of how teachers are cared for. The remuneration they receive, the resources they are provided with and the physical environment in which they work have to motivate them to be agents of change.
“So, while we take the time to celebrate teachers, we must also dwell on our responsibility to this exclusively influential group of people in society. We must take actions which spur teachers on and keep them lighting the fires of progress we need in Antigua and Barbuda.”