AS TEACHERS across the country joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Teachers’ Day yesterday, we feel obliged to commend these gallant men and women for their invaluable contribution to society.
These are men and women who have devoted their lives to imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes to citizens for the benefit of society.
It is a fact that teachers have been instrumental in nurturing citizens of different age groups into productive individuals capable of contributing to sustainable development.
The contribution of teachers to society is mirrored through the many learned citizens that are making significant contributions to the country’s development agenda across all sectors.
The influence of teachers is so deep that it touches the core values of humanity and extends to cover every aspect of society.
The depth of the teachers’ influence is in the basic fact that doctors, engineers, journalists, lawyers, economists, architects, accountants, and human resource experts, to name but a few, have all gone through the able hands of a teacher.
In other words, teachers have their lives laid down as a ladder on which citizens ascend to access greater opportunities and success.
The development we have scored so far could not have been possible without the initial contribution of teachers.
The saying that no nation ever rises above the quality of its teachers, therefore, validates the pivotal position which teachers occupy in society.
Given their contributions to society and our country in particular, teachers deserve commendation and respect from all.
It is for this reason that we join the rest of the country and the world at large in celebrating our teachers for their sacrificial contributions.
We know that theirs is not an easy calling as it involves a lot of tolerance, hard work and sacrifice to successfully transform individuals from different social backgrounds through knowledge impartation.
The sacrifice is even more for those in far flung rural areas where access to basic amenities such as water, shelter, electricity and banking are still a challenge.
For instance, some teachers have to cover long distances to access banking facilities.
We are, however, comforted that Government is working to alleviate these challenges through establishment of new districts, infrastructure development and the rural electrification programme, among others.
With these interventions, we are optimistic that more teachers will be attracted to serve in rural areas, which are currently struggling with a high teacher-pupil ratio. It is estimated that at primary school level, the teacher-pupil ratio stands at 1 to 43 while at secondary it is 1 to 39.
Needless to say, even amid challenges, teachers have an obligation to offer their much-needed service to all citizens regardless of location.
It is, therefore, our hope that teachers took advantage of yesterday’s commemoration to renew their commitment to serve the Zambian people regardless of the geographical location.
Teachers need to understand that for the country to meet its target of equitable access to education, they must be ready to work anywhere, especially in rural areas where the need for education is even more.
It is also hoped that teachers also took time to reflect on possible solutions to some vices rearing ugly heads in the profession.
Not too long ago, the country was taken aback when the Teaching Council of Zambia disclosed that about 500 teachers had forged certificates.
There are also cases where teachers have sexually abused pupils.
Some teachers have also been implicated in examination malpractices where they have leaked the examination papers to candidates.
These vices have potential to repudiate the achievements of this noble profession.
Teachers should, therefore, rise up in solidarity to protect this honourable profession for continued positive impact on society.