Required: 18 million teachers – Gezocht: 18 miljoen onderwijzers

18 million. Any idea how much that is? Do you know how many zeros there are in this number?

Guess what: 18 million extra teachers are needed to reach the Millenium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. Eighteen million….. In Africa alone, 3.8 million additional teachers are required to achieve this Goal.

That search for 18 million is a massive ‘Search for Truth’. Not as simple as our recent Baha’i childrens class where they searched for truth, using the story of the elephant & the blind men.

Searching the truth

Searching the truth

Quick question: do you remember your best teacher? Was he or she from a primary or secondary school, Sunday class at church, Baha’i children class, or summer school? Whenever it was, please send some positive thoughts to every teacher you know, because today is World Teachers’ Day. A Day set aside by UNESCO to honour and recognize teachers around the world.

In my opinion true education is about learning to search for the truth, just like our recent Baha’i childrens class (you remember the story of the blind men & the elephant?).

The UNESCO report “Learning: the treasure within” by the International Community on Education for the 21st Century stated in 1996 that education should be based on 4 pillars (4 onderwijspilaren).

These 4 pillars complement & strengthen each other. They are the pillars of:

  1. learning to know
  2. learning to do
  3. learning to live together
  4. learning to be

Learning to know lays the foundations of learning throughout life. It refers to the basic knowledge we need to understand our environment and to live in dignity. It includes arousing curiosity, research and discovery, and developing concentration, memory, and thought.

Learning to do is all about practical skills, teamwork and initiative, a readiness to take risks, turning our knowledge into effective innovations.

Learning to live together is based on developing an understanding of ourselves AND others through dialogue, resulting in empathy, respect, and appreciation. It is about recognizing our growing interdependence, experiencing shared purposes, implementing common projects and a joint future, and managing conflicts in a peaceful way.

Learning to be deals with freedom of thought, feeling, and imagination that we need to act more independently, with more insight, more critically, and more responsibly. The end of education is to discover and open the talents which are hidden like a treasure within every person.

Of course, as a Baha’i, this last phrase talking about ‘a treasure within’ reminds me immediately of a quotation from Gleanings by Baha’u’llah:

Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently posses…….. Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures.

Individual Baha’is and their communities all over the world are heavily involved in education for children, junior youth and youth. Young people are our ‘most precious resource’ and I know of some awesome inspiring educational programmes such as SAT in South & Central America, and FAS community schools in India.

And although a a UNESCO press release states: ‘Even when the overall supply of teachers is sufficient, remote and disadvantaged areas across the globe may suffer persistent problems in recruitment and retention. This shortage of qualified teachers is one of the biggest challenges to achieving the Education for All goals’, I’m not that pessimistic.

Some readers might say that I have too much faith in the efforts and energy of my Baha’i family all around the globe. I don’t mind. I know these efforts have been blessed by Baha’u’llah.


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