Following the tradition, 16th May is Teacher's Day in Malaysia. It is to honour those men and women whose task are to ensure young Malaysians are adequately educated so that they could contribute towards nation building when they grow up later.
Teachers had played important role in nation building especially the pre-Merdeka and early days of our independence. Among the early roles allowed to Malaysians by the British colonist, teachers in the early days of Merdeka were not involved only in educating Malaysians but were part of the intellectuals who transformed this country into a nation which could stand on its own feet.
Given limited choice of employment, those who joined the teaching profession those days were among the smart and the brightest, no wonder teachers in the early years of Malaysia commanded respect from all levels of society and many of them ended up being leaders of the society.
In a modern and sophisticated Malaysia, the roles of teachers has grown and become more demanding. Being the group of people interacting with future leaders of this nation, it is upon the teachers to ensure our young flesh and blood do not only acquire academic knowledge but compliment the efforts of parents in inculcating good values in young Malaysians. As our population grow, these tasks are getting more difficult.
As we modernise and move up the value chain, more employment opportunities are available. Teaching is no longer the first choice among the smart and bright Malaysians. While it is fair for them to consider opportunities to maximise their future, the teaching profession needs talents in catering for the more demanding needs of the nation. To add misery to the profession, this is among the most politicised profession due to the number of votes teachers could bring during elections.
As we honour our teachers, we should also ponder on whether this celebration should be limited to teachers as teachers or should also cover others whose role includes getting somebody to be educated. This will robe in many more Malaysians including our parents, bosses and colleagues. As knowledge and platform in delivering knowledge evolve, even Google could fall into definition as our teacher!
Being a son of a teacher, I am very proud of the contribution of this noble profession and I pray that all teachers, present and past, we be blessed.
No amount of money would be enough to recognise the contribution and sacrifices made by teachers in this country to ensure we enjoy prosperity as what we do today.
Happy Teacher's Day.