This year, World Teachers’ Day will celebrate teachers with the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”. UNESCO introduced this day as an “occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.”
To celebrate this day, we invited Khanyisile Mthunzi, a 4th and final year Future Leader in the programme to share their voice as young aspiring teachers in the profession. Khanyisile is currently placed at St Andrew’s School for Girls in Johannesburg, we asked her a few questions, and this is what she had to say.
To me personally, World Teachers Day that one day when teachers are being recognized celebrate and appreciated for the profound work they do, it gives teachers time to reflect on who they are and how important their existence is, teachers, turn to forget how special they are and this day on this particular day they are given a sense of pride in their work and purpose.
How would you want to be celebrated as a teacher?
I would want to be celebrated through private praise, where learners show their love and appreciation for the impact I have in their lives. Random handwritten notes from students always make this a purposeful and rewarding career. But also given time to reflect on personal and professional growth because being a teacher is very emotionally taxing and requires a lot of reflection and recharging.
What does leading in a crisis mean to you?
To me it means that leading even when things fall apart, not backing down or allowing trials and tribulations or even crisis situations change one’s purpose and mission, making a firm decision during those times to remain strong and unmoved, to stay resilient and using that time to gain personal knowledge and staying innovative.
What crisis can you identify in your school and how have you reimagined the future around it?
The crisis that exists at my school is the social standing differences that exist in society, for me personally the future around this crisis is a future full of prosperity where everyone is seen as equal to the next person, because even though learners and staff members come from different social backgrounds they all form part of this profound sector of education that is based on growing and grooming socially responsible and successful individuals that will lead this nation to greatness.
What is the role of teachers in building resilience and shaping the future of education and the teaching profession?
Teachers are role models to their learners or students, and they look up to them for most life lessons, therefore teachers set the tone in teaching resilience in the lives of their learners from a very young age. They are there to create safe and fulfilling learning and reception environments that shape who they become in the future, giving themselves fully into their learner’s development and growth also gives learners a chance to become open and confident in themselves and their abilities. Teachers are builders of potentially responsible citizens. Learning is very difficult, and teachers create challenges but also provide support and solutions on working around those challenges and that gives learners a deep understanding of who they are and allows them to be resilient individuals.
Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of 1966 by the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. World Teachers Day has become the occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession.
World Teachers’ Day is co-convened by UNESCO in partnership with UNICEF, the International Labour Organization and Education International. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/worldteachersday