Reflecting on Teacher's Day

Reflecting on Teacher's Day

On October 5th, we celebrate Teacher's Day, and on this occasion, it's apt to think again about the conditions in which our teachers are molding the brightest children in the world. It's no secret that we live in a divided society where, on one hand, students achieve the best PISA test scores, and on the other, it's no longer shameful to be ignorant, arrogant, and cheeky. Fame now comes not from creation or scientific work but from flashing bare skin in reality shows and being superficially foolish. In a community celebrating intellectual poverty, it's truly miraculous that teachers still exist who can give their best, both in knowledge and a healthy, empathetic attitude towards life.

Value our teachers' efforts!

On Teacher's Day, one can't ignore the topic of salaries. It's well-known that while state positions see rapid salary growth, teachers' compensations haven't significantly risen. Inflation, triggered by poor decisions from both Brussels and Toompea, eats away even the small increase granted by the government to appease growing discontent among teachers. Politicians who control the national purse strings still believe that teachers should work mostly out of a sense of mission. As long as the government fails to realize that without well-paid teachers working reasonable hours, Estonia has no future, the threat of a teacher strike looms.

Genuine Estonian education.

Lately, school's peace has been disturbed by inept reform plans from pencil-pushers more concerned about sending political messages than the quality of education in our schools. An example of this slogan-driven approach is the rushed transition to Estonian-language education. How this actually pans out doesn't interest anyone; the main goal is to stoke emotions and surround oneself with a false halo of glory. They fail to understand that in parts of Estonia, like Ida-Viru and Lasnamäe, a thoughtless switch to Estonian-language education means closing Estonian schools and producing a large number of half-educated foreign-language students. Whether teachers survive or drown in this storm doesn't concern politicians, who have their own agenda, not aligned with the goal of providing the best education to every child in Estonia.

School secures the future.

Estonian school has never been on shakier grounds. Smaller schools are being recklessly closed, thus extinguishing life in many hitherto thriving villages. Funds are lacking for nutritious school meals, and the Prime Minister suggests saving on heating costs. Teachers and students are on edge due to war stories amplified in the media and bleak future predictions. Yet, against all odds, the school stands firm, against political hysterics and a trivializing media, representing a beacon of hope, instilling in the young a belief that knowledge is a lasting value.

It depends on the school and teachers if our youth emerge from these challenging times mentally sound and thirsty for knowledge, ready to propel Estonia forward. We must believe this will be the case, for we have no alternatives. With this hope, let's appreciate the steadfast men and women who have remained true to the teaching profession and honor them on their special day. Here's to a hopeful Teacher's Day!

Vsevolod Jürgenson