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Teachers Day - A Celebration, Past, Present and Future

by on 16/05/2020 7157

It may come as a surprise that Teachers Day – the day set aside to commemorate and honour the special work of teachers – is celebrated throughout the world on different days. In our region, for instance, it falls on Jan 16 in Thailand, in Malaysia on May 16, in Brunei on Sept 23, in the Philippines on Oct 5 and in Singapore on the first Friday of September.



In the different countries, the day chosen usually marks an important milestone in the history of education there. In Malaysia, May 16 was the date the Razak Report was formally endorsed by the Federal Legislative Assembly of the Federation of Malaya in 1956, a year before independence. The report, named after Datuk Abdul Razak Hussein (later Tun), the country’s first Education Minister (and later the second Prime Minister), was pivotal in providing a framework for the education system in post-independent Malaya and later Malaysia.


Crucially the report recognised schooling was pivotal to the process of national integration and sought ways in which this could be achieved. It endorsed Malay as the national language of the country and recommended that all students would be required to study the language. The report also confronted the complexity of the processes of nation-building in a multicultural, multilingual polity and steered clear of simplistic solutions to complex problems.


As I look back on my formative years growing up in Ipoh, I could not believe that I do not have memories of even one of my preschool teachers. I could just vaguely recall a few of my primary teachers and the same goes for my secondary school teachers. Teachers Day, just like any other celebratory day such as Sports Day or Children’s Day was just another day to have fun and be let off early from school.


Maybe back then times were simpler – life was simpler. Every student could really learn and develop at their own pace and those that were lagging were given special classes and attention. This was before the advent of computers, laptops, gadgets and even the colour television. I can fondly recall all of us, my mom, dad, my sister and me all piling into my dad’s Hillman after breakfast (back then we had time to have breakfast as a family) for the short drive to our respective schools. You see, my mom is a teacher, my dad is a teacher and even my sister is a teacher. My uncles are teachers and they are married to my aunties who are also teachers!


Being in such esteemed company, there was a certain pressure to perform and produce results academically. I wasn’t a brilliant student but I wasn’t a dunce either. Learning and teaching just seemed to come naturally. It was so easy that I think somewhere, somehow their sacrifices, passion and dedication were taken for granted.



Today, as I look around me I realise that the teaching profession is indeed a noble one. Yes, it has taken me the better part of half a century to come to this realisation. I realise now that teachers are people too. While being teachers, they are also mothers, wives, fathers and husbands with very real emotions, feelings, needs and problems. Yet, day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, these special men and women carry out their responsibilities as teachers without favour or prejudice, never expecting anything in return.


In our eyes, the teacher is a superwoman or a superman who sees all and knows all and who has all the answers and solutions to whatever problems that a child might encounter in school. Besides the usual school subjects, teachers are also expected to inculcate in their students a sense of responsibility, good morals and socially acceptable behaviour. They are also expected to comfort the children when they feel sad and reassure them when they are feaful. In short, part of the job description of a teacher would require them to be substitute moms and dads. These amazing people are not only teachers, they are also our mentors and our friends. Teachers are the people we can always rely on, whom we can always turn to in our times of need. Teachers are the friends whom we turn to in our darkest hours as students, when we have achieved a less than perfect score in our tests. Teachers are the light at the end of the tunnel when our whole student world is filled with dark clouds and about to come crashing down! Our teachers are always there to encourage us, to cheer us on, to inspire us.



It is my humble and honest opinion that we do not need a special day to appreciate and honour our teachers. Let us celebrate our teachers everyday. Let us show our appreciation everyday. A simple “Thank you, teacher” or a cheery “Good morning, teacher” will be most heart-warming and appreciated.


We go through life always thinking about the future that we often forget the past. No matter how successful we are at any point in life, regardless of what we have attained, we must never forget the people who have taught and nurtured us. Always remember how we arrived at where we are and be earnestly thankful for the people that have helped to make it possible – our teachers.


Let the following poem by Vincent Kuo be a tribute to teachers everywhere.


Happy Teachers Day


“I can see further only because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”



A tribute to you, Giants of the past

and those who paved beneath our feet.

From the first stone to the very last,

firmly we stand, a better world to meet.


In the limitless skies we now can soar

to unite the spirits from near and far.

Giants and Colossi from times before,

the wind beneath our wings you are.


Masters and Captains of bygone days,

we salute you with highest acclaim.

Before the end when we part our ways,

remember we shall of whence we came.


We brood and mull over harmony and strife

to succeed and triumph across the land.

We see further at this point in life,

for upon shoulders of Giants we stand.