Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Cleansing Teaching | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Nothing is more important or greater than the teacher. In Japan, a teacher is second only in importance to the Emperor, and the majority of people dream of becoming a teacher, but this is a hard goal to reach for careers in education are monopolized by the intelligent and the talented. As for some third world countries, it is a career of necessity, undertaken by those who cannot find anything else. Consequently, this distorts the status and role of the teacher.

The importance of the teacher is his role as a guide who leads the generations that society desires, as well as his position as a role model and paradigm. Saudi Arabia did well to intensify its efforts to promote the teacher, and it cleansed the field of education over the past two years by excluding more than 2,000 teachers with extremist ideas [from teaching] transferring them to administrative work away from students and the education process. Nothing is more worrying than the emergence of teachers with hidden agendas. This profession – which has all of society’s hopes resting on it – deserves the highest and most rigorous standards of selection.

I had hoped that the Ministry [of Education] would start showing an interest in teachers from the moment they started teacher training colleges – in cooperation with universities – and that this would not be postponed until after they teachers graduate. This way the general criteria for teachers could be established earlier, and education in these [teaching] colleges would be limited to the most distinguished candidates.

These days we are reading about the protests of some [teaching] graduates who did not make the grade, and the negotiations that is taking place between them and the Ministry [of Education], which resulted in the Ministry resolving to hold training courses for those who need them to qualify as teachers, as well as some officials saying that the pass grade should be reduced [to allow them to graduate]. One can understand the condition of these graduates, and their need for employment after four years of specialized studies in the education field. However if there had previously been a degree of cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the teaching colleges we would not have reached this impasse, and all those of varying standards who studied at these colleges could have been screened prior to admittance so that the pass grade would not need to be reduced. By doing so we would not have wronged the student, or the education process.

Will we do this?