The importance of the teacher in national life cannot be over-emphasized. It is he who influences the immature minds of the youth. He treats and tries to mould the living stuff into various forms. The future of the nation is fashioned by him through the process of education. A nation trying to march ahead on the roads to progress can leave the education of her sons and daughter in the hands of incompetent teachers only at its own risk. "The world of tomorrow will be born from the schools of today" says M.L Jacks. In this way, teachers, indeed, is the true builder of the nation.
In the past, teachers were held by all in the highest esteem. Even kings and emperors used to look upto them for guidance and advice in hours of crisis. As a matter of fact, teachers were the trustees of common welfare. Teachers in those days days were the true benefactors of society. History is full of examples which clearly show that great decisions of vital importance to the whole nation were taken on the directions of the teachers. Such was the importance which was enjoyed by teachers in the past.
Times have now undergone, a tremendous change. teachers have lost their old glory. they are now looked down upon in society. Their economic condition is simply miserable. Even the Government peons are better off than the primary, junior, and even High School teachers. We all know that economically our country is backward and the standard of living of the masses is low. In a country of such low standards, the teacher stands at the lowest rung of the ladder.
Besides this, we live in a materialistic world. Only those command respect and position in society who have enough money. The teacher, being poor, does not enjoy any prestige in society. He suffers in many other ways also. It has become a common feeling with the people that, one who fails everywhere else and has been rejected at all other places, becomes teacher as a last resort. In this way also teaching profession has been down-graded, their services are considered non essential and thus they do not get necessary recognition fro society.
There is great dissatisfaction and frustration among them. Working conditions in schools and colleges are appalling. It is needed very sad that such persons are in charge of education as are themselves quite ignorant. They often treat teachers as their domestic servants. Teachers remain helpless in getting such shocking conditions improved.
Education is a complicated process. Not only the teacher, but so many other agencies also take part in educating the youth. We are all aware of the influence of the cinema on the minds of children. How quickly they imitate the ways of dressing, walking and talking of their favorite stars is a matter of common experience. The television has also become quite popular. This too has its influence on children. Various other public activities like elections and meetings of political parties also serve as agencies of education. Rather, he has a very limited influence.
Today, education is increasingly being regarded as the major weapon in the crusade for supremacy on the economic front. Television, telephone and computers are reshaping practically every walk of life, including education. The classrooms of tomorrow could be entirely different fro those of today. The teachers will play a very significant role. It would not only be complex but also full of challenges, because dependence on the teacher will gradually diminish for an individual leaner. The television, telephone and computer will take over and encourage self-learning. Distance education may reduce the need to devote much time within the four walls of the classroom. New techniques of assessment will be available to the realistic assessment would also provide an opportunity for self-directed improvement by the learner, which is rare in the existing system.
However, the situation is not so depressing for a teacher. The importance of the role of the teachers as an agent of change, promoting understanding and tolerance has become more obvious and is likely to become even more critical in the 21st century . This places enormous responsibilities on teachers who participate in the molding of the character and minds of the new generation.
Indeed, it will be unfortunate for our country, if conditions of the teaching profession are allowed to deteriorate further. Let all round improvement be made in the conditions of the teachers without any further delay. Then only they will be able to play their vital role as nation builders. Then alone will education become a vital source of national integration.