But the same analyst was shortly later to have a serious rethink, and sorrowfully note, in a January 18, 2005 piece: “This most important profession however does not get the recognition it deserves. In the developed world, young people don’t want to become a primary school teacher any more. In most developing countries the profession does not attract qualified and ambitious people because it is poorly remunerated.”
Going by developments in the education sector in Tanzania, how justifiable would it be to suggest that the days when school teachers or indeed teachers at any level were highly respected members of society are gone – and that it would call for a miracle for teaching to recapture its glory of old as an attractive, respectable and respected profession?
It would be neither exaggeration nor distortion saying that recent years have been characterised by complaints by teachers chiefly due to what they view as insensitivity by their employers, this usually meaning the government, when it comes to benefits.
The complaints have on occasion degenerated into threats of boycotts and demonstrations – or actual boycotts and protest marches – meant to make the relevant authorities better understand that teachers believe they deserve much better treatment in terms of remuneration and working conditions generally than currently obtains.
The Tanzania Teachers Union is admittedly one of the most vibrant and economically powerful of the dozen or so members of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta). To its credit, and despite a number of odds, it has been especially vocal in reminding the government and the public that teachers are a crucial cog in the wheel of the nation’s social, cultural, political and economic development but their contribution is not adequately reciprocated.
Even TTU’s fiercest critics will attest to the fact that it has played a laudable advocacy role, although it is also undeniable that this has seldom translated into the “fruits” teachers as a fraternity are dying to see fill their plates.
Having realised that complaints and protests alone will not add much meaning or value to teachers’ lives and the lives of teachers’ children, etc., a Dar es Salaam-based NGO known as Education and Expedition Agency Association (EEAA) has come up with a novel idea: the introduction of annual awards to deserving teachers.
EEAA officials say the awards are meant to recognise and honour exemplary performance by teachers across Tanzania in the hope that doing so would gradually motivate the entire fraternity into greater diligence, commitment to work and love for their country and nation.
We find this thinking well worth supporting so that it comes to fruition so that, eventually, teaching wins back its erstwhile glory as a reputable profession in its own right.
Well done, EEAA, and may you attract more players into efforts to come to the rescue of our teachers and our education without expecting too much from the government. Imagine a world with no teachers or with all teachers languishing in poverty and therefore hopelessly dejected!