Education Minister Shawn Edward has praised the hard work of teachers while empathising with them because of the challenges they face.
The Dennery South MP was addressing Sunday’s ecumenical service as part of Teachers’ Week.
Edward spent seventeen years as a primary and secondary school teacher before leaving the profession over a decade ago.
“When I hear teachers lament the conditions under which they have to work and the challenges that confront them on a daily basis, I feel your pain,” he told his audience.
“And I challenge any teacher in this audience or anywhere in this country who is better able to articulate the plight of teachers than myself, having spent 17 years in the classroom at both the primary and the secondary level. So I feel your pan. I know your challenges. I know your struggle,” the Minister asserted.
“That is why you have been told time and again that teaching, in much the same way it was for me and still is for you, a vocation,” Edward explained.
“The pay can never be commensurate with the effort. You cannot adequately compensate teachers in terms of dollars and cents for what you do for this country,” the Minister observed.
In addition, Edward said that the role of the teacher will continue to evolve and expand.
He noted that for this reason, many have come forward to teach, but not for the pay.
“The pay will never be the motivation and if the pay is the motivation for you, you are not a true teacher,” Edward told his audience.
Nevertheless, he stressed that this did not mean a lack of appreciation for the daily commitments teachers face like bills, mortgages, and rising supermarket prices.
“We understand that. And this is what sets teachers apart. We put our hands up as a collective and we have said that we are going to do it for a better nation,” Edward asserted.
In this regard, he expressed gratitude to teachers on behalf of Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, the Cabinet and the central government.
Edward praised the educators for continuing to soldier on in difficult circumstances.
He said the community expects that when things go wrong in society, teachers would solve all the social problems.
However, Edward said that cannot be right.
“Yes, we make an impression at a very early age on the children entrusted to our care, but there are other agents of society that have failed miserably and when they do, being the patriots we have always been, we try to pick up the slack,” he observed.