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"If you can read this, thank your teacher"

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

To be a teacher is to touch a life for ever. Those who pursue this noble profession nurture the future generation, generation after generation. What we learn from them becomes a part of us. - Pratibha Umashankar.

We should all spare a thought on October 5 for those patient chalkies who guided us through school. It will be World Teachers' Day, which UNESCO inaugurated in 1994 to focus attention on the extraordinary contributions and achievements of teachers.

Khaleej Times"A glance at history will tell us that many achievements of mankind - great inventions, discoveries, Art and poetry - have been inspired by great teachers.," says Pratibha Umashankar, a journalist on the staff of the Khaleej Times* in Dubai, United Arab Republic. "Teachers not only uphold time-tested traditions, but they also inspire youngsters to think differently. Either way, they are the barometers of a society - its culture, values and thought.

"From the alphabets we learn in our first classroom to the most complex concepts we grasp about at higher levels of learning is owed to teachers. We learn valuable lessons in life from them. They are the beacons of light guiding us in the formative years of our life. They mould our minds, cultivate our character and shape our future.

"Yet, a teacherís work is often thankless. Teachers are the unsung and unheralded heroes of a country. So, today, letís take a moment to express our gratitude to our teachers. Remember, if you can read this, thank your teacher."

The world has more than 55 million teachers, nearly one per cent of its population, training more than a billion students.

Not all countries celebrate Teachers' Day on October 5. In Australia, World Teachers' Day is held on the last Friday in October. This year it will be on October 27.

In China, Teachers' Day began at the National Central University in 1931. The central government of the Republic of China adopted the idea the following year. In 1939, the day was changed to August 27, Confuciusís birthday, and in 1985 moved to September 10.

Iran selected May 2, to commemorate the day in 1979 that Professor Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, scholar, cleric, professor and politician was assassinated.


With a multinational readership of 450,000, the Khaleej Times is the leading English language daily newspaper in the Gulf area. Published in Dubai, it circulates throughout the UAE and covers Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia It is also sold in the UK, India and Pakistan.

Young TimesThe Khaleej Times website says its Young Times magazine, published every Tuesday, appeals to youth of the Indian sub-continent and expatriates living in other parts of the world. "It gives the youth of the UAE a platform of their own to discuss and read about issues that matter most to them."

In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the
rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing
civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest
honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have.
-Lee Iacocca, US automobile executive (1924- ).

Australia celebrates World Teachersí Day on the last Friday in October - the 27th this year - to avoid school holidays.


* The South Korean citizen reporters' journal OhmyNewsInternational has published an edited version of this story.

Story first posted October 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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