Saba celebrated World Teachers’ Day on Wednesday, October 5th, with two events; a church service in the morning organized by the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) and a dinner with a guest speaker event in the evening, hosted by the Public Entity Saba.
Students of SCS and grade 6 students of the Sacred Heart School (SHS) gathered at the Wesleyan Holiness Church in The Bottom in the morning. The program included the singing of the Saba national anthem and different songs, an opening prayer by Nadine Granger, short performances by students of the different forms, Scripture readings, an exhortation by Paster Vernon Liburd, a special prayer by Pastor Earl Esdalle and a benediction by Father Zbigniew 'Zibi' Orlikowski.
During the church service, there were also brief remarks by the Chairman of the Saba Education Foundation, Franklin Wilson, and Commissioner of Education, Bruce Zagers. Zagers spoke about the enormous value and dedication of teachers.
“Today, teachers around the world will be showered with kind words, and we will all show them our appreciation for their dedication, their patience, their guidance, and the love that they give to our children. As long as we have great teachers dedicated to their profession and to their students, then we are going in the right direction. Then we are creating a foundation and an opportunity for our children to one day be outstanding, successful adults. So just as we celebrate teachers’ day today, we should show our gratitude to our teachers every day. Because without them, where would we be?”
Zagers reflected on this year’s theme of World Teachers’ Day: ‘The transformation of Education begins with the teachers.’ “Not only is this a fitting theme, but it is also a factual statement. As teachers, to find true success in this profession, and if you want to be a great teacher, you have to go beyond just being an educator. You must be a motivator, a parent figure, and an innovator. You have to be capable of actually reaching and connecting with your students so that you can help them to reach their full potential to accomplish greatness,” he said.
“The reality is that as a society, we do not show our appreciation enough to our teachers. We do not say thank you enough. I know that sometimes you may feel as if you are not valued sufficiently, whether because of societal norms, students who are not motivated or because of the system, which is admittedly over bureaucratic and sometimes unfair. But today, I want you to know that we are very grateful to you. We appreciate you, and we are privileged to have such great teachers molding the futures of our children on Saba,” said Zagers.
According to Chairman Wilson, the COVID-19 crisis revealed that teachers are the “engines at the heart of our education systems.” “Without their work, it is impossible to provide inclusive, equitable, and quality education to every learner,” he said.
Wilson remarked that, unfortunately, in many parts of the world, classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers are too few, on top of being overworked, demotivated and unsupported. “As a result, we see an unprecedented number of teachers leaving the profession and a significant drop in those studying to become teachers. If these issues are not addressed, the loss of a professional teaching corps could be a fatal blow to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” he said.
“Therefore, bringing qualified, supported, and motivated teachers into classrooms -and keeping them there- is the single most important thing we can do to improve the learning and well-being of students and communities. The valuable work teachers do have to be translated into better working conditions and pay,” said Wilson.
During the day, the SCS and SHS schools organized events for the students to celebrate World Teachers’ Day. The SHS had a sports day with the staff and children, while the SCS organized a breakfast and staff appreciation event.
In the evening hours, teachers gathered at the Arawak Hotel for a dinner event which was well-attended by both schools as well as EC2. After welcoming words by Rosalyn Johnson, Policy Advisor Education at the Public Entity Saba, it was time for the guest speaker Akilah Riley-Richardson from Trinidad & Tobago to address the gathering.
Riley-Richardson, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, a Brain-spotting Therapist, and a Certified Relational Life Therapist and Facilitator, spoke about the importance of force, orientation, responsibility, compassion, and essence. Saba’s communications company Satel sponsored gift cards for all the teachers as a token of their hard work and dedication.