19 November 2012 | Kuensel

The students and faculty of the Samtse College of Education should have a lot on their minds.

In separate audiences at the college campus yesterday, His Majesty the King laid down some basic truths.  Trainees should be teachers only if their true passion is teaching. “If you don’t feel that way, you must find another way to serve the country, because, as teachers, you owe your students your best.”

Such a matter of fact statement should have got many introspecting on why they are there at the college of education.  Is it for a job?  Is it because there was nowhere else to go?  Is it because friends and loved ones insisted they do something that appears useful?

Such questions become even more relevant today, when quality of teaching and teachers, the attitudes of youth and parents offer all kinds of challenges.

Becoming a teacher is no longer a last employment option like it used to be.  In fact, many of the teaching slots offered to university graduates have remained vacant for several years now.

The Bhutanese educational system today does face a shortage of teachers in certain subjects.  This shortage is more acute in the rural areas and at the kindergarten and primary levels, where not many lopens or ‘kings of knowledge’ fear to dread.

It is also a fact that there are quite a few disgruntled ones out there, playing a key role in shaping the lives of the future.  With easier access to computers, many are spouting their grievances in online forums on almost everything.  What good will come to students, if their teachers are not happy with what they are trained to do?

But the royal message should also get every working Bhutanese thinking why they are wherever they are, and why they do whatever they do?  The basic truths remain the same for every line of work, every profession.  The process of learning never ends.

Yet it is the teaching profession, as His Majesty pointed out, that is the most important, because of the crucial role it must play in shaping and moulding the future of this nation.

It is fact of life that not many are clear on what they want in life.  A young child will say they want to be a doctor or an engineer, because everyone else wants to be one, or because the parents keep saying it.  Some take up specialised training scholarships, because they have acquired the academic marks for it.

Some join the teaching profession.  But as some teachers will point out over time, they start to love and enjoy what they do, and develop a passion for it.

For the teachers, there could not have been anything more reassuring than when His Majesty said, “I will give you more importance and more recognition than any other sector, because you are going to make the greatest difference to the future of our country”.

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