Teacher, please be at your desk
Considering the scandalous
proportions teacher absenteeism in our schools is taking, we
should not be surprised in the least to learn that failures at
the last GCE Ordinary Level examination were well above 50 per
When teachers play truant how could one expect academic
excellence from their wards? This is the poser our educational
authorities and public-spirited sections need to answer.
We are given to understand that out of around 200,000
teachers, 40,000 are on ‘leave’ daily. That is one out of five
teachers is on ‘leave’ everyday.
The implications of these staggering statistics are that tens
of thousands of our primary and secondary school students are
unconscionably neglected and allowed to languish in classrooms
where teaching is not done. Should we, then, wonder at the
dismal failure rate at the GCE Ordinary Level?
While agreeing with Education Minister Susil Premajayantha
that teaching is just not any other job but a profession, we
wish to go further and say that teaching is not just any
profession but a vocation - a sacred vocation.
It could be considered on par with the noblest professions.
This is the reason why it must be conscientiously practised by
those engaged in it. By keeping away from work, however, these
practitioners are degrading their vocation and calling in life.
The situation is similar to that of doctors who abandon their
patients in the latter’s hour of need. Inasmuch as the latter
situation is a tragedy of unendurable proportions so is the
former. In both cases, precious lives are blighted terribly.
So, we call on our teachers to set their sights high. Much is
expected of them and the country could be considered to be
betrayed if they fail in reaching the lofty ideals which they
are expected to adhere to.
Our teachers are the moulders of the hearts and minds of the
younger generation. They bring out the men and women of
By failing to be at their posts, our teachers are abandoning
this sacred duty of bringing out men and women of exemplary
calibre. Consequently, the country is blighted.
The authorities are not exaggerating when they say that
teachers enjoy the most holidays among public servants. This is
the reason why they need to give a good account of themselves.
We hope, therefore, that the teachers of this country would
ponder deeply on these issues.
They need to consider in particular, the future of
Mathematics and Science in this country; the results in relation
to which have been highly discouraging.
Science and Mathematics are two disciplines which have a
crucial impact on a country’s future. It does not require any
special ingenuity to realise that teacher absenteeism has
contributed greatly towards the dismal GCE Ordinary Level
performances in these subjects.
We call on our teachers to adopt an enlightened approach to
their tasks. Conscientious teaching must be turned into a norm
before it is too late.