It has been recognized from antiquity that those who teach or desire to teach must have a burning desire to learn their discipline. The acquisition of knowledge is foundational for teachers irrespective of whether the learning community is literate or illiterate. A prospective teacher must first sit under the feet of a knowledgeable person, the teacher, who transmits knowledge. A teacher is the disseminator of the components of a particular body of knowledge, whether formal or informal.
The teacher is the salient pivotal figure who capacitates the effective and efficient smooth functioning of a specific community.
Before the advent of modernization, specialists gave young indigenous African people the foundation of life survival skills equipping them to function and contribute to the success of their communities. Students who “graduated” from these “schools” produced collective products in their communities that became their “certificates.”
In pristine indigenous African communities, the rustic omnicompetent teachers and the entire community inculcated Ubuntu—the quintessential human value that endows a person with dignity and honour through compassion and respect reciprocated to other human beings—in their students. This is the origin of the trite maxim: It takes the whole village to raise [teach] a child. Regrettably, individualism on the saddle of modernity gradually consigned this type of education to the archives.
The advent of modernity formalized education with prospective teachers receiving conventional education that qualifies them to teach the next generation. Formal teacher’s training expands teachable specialized disciplines that have progressively improved the quality of human life—the significant verifiable output of formal education.
Teachers are the backbone of this education, and their absence will result in societies receding to pre-modernity that is characterized by ignorance and savagery. Hence, cultured societies should reflect on the teachers’ contribution to the construction of a learned society.
It is precisely the reason for celebrating the World Teacher’s Day. This particular day is set apart for societies to be cognizant of the critical role played by both our formal and informal teachers, including our parents who equipped us with the fundamentals of education.
The formal pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary education teachers deserve our accolades today, whether we obtained a certificate, diploma, or degree. These men and women deserve honor for equipping us with measurable skills and knowledge to become productive agents in our respective societies. May we all take this opportunity to say Happy Teachers Day to our formal teachers, the unsung heroes and heroines of our lives.