A teacher is many things at once. His or her role is so multifaceted that it can only be understood as a subsumptive entity. Erudition, intelligent attention and a sentient, persistent, honest and ethical stewardship are only some of the attributes of a great teacher. A teacher is expected to act ‘in loco Parentis’ in the school around the students, which translates as acting and deciding as a parent on behalf of the child when on school premises and sometimes beyond.

Teaching, as a profession is fraught with sempiternal difficulty as it is a profession that does not claim just time and energy but brings with itself an immense responsibility of building future. The teachers of KP have all the above mentioned attributes but there are added feathers to their caps.

Raised boundary walls, barbed wires, surveillance cameras, limited basic facilities in schools, teaching in geographically disadvantaged areas, walking miles to reach the school, at times climbing mountains, bearing the atrocities of inclement weather under no roof, performing non-teaching duties such as election duties, survey campaigns, vaccination campaigns, etc, are only some of the trials that teaching in KP entails. Yet another very challenging dimension that teachers of KP have been facing post-Army Public School on December 16, terror incident, is the very clear and present danger of violence. Not only did the teachers stood up to the threat of terrorists but performed their best in teaching and assuaging the fears of the scared, demoralized students. The teachers of KP are not only teaching under the most challenging conditions, but are doing it with flying colours. They have been inculcating knowledge, encouraging creativity and kindling and rekindling inspiration in their students despite the formidable odds. The board examination results speak for themselves and clearly depict the relentless efforts of the teachers and vouches for their ability of inspiring their students to exceed expectations and win laurels. However, throughout their journey of teaching what has been acutely lacking is only one thing: appreciation.

Anwar Sultana, headmistress Government Girls Centennial Model School Peshawar shared, “In my 27 years long career, there has never been any acknowledgement or appreciation, not even a letter. This government has not just given us cash prizes but this is the first time in our lives that we received acknowledgement of our efforts. We are all thrilled and our families and community is proud of us”. She further added that this government has taken all those initiatives that were close to our hearts as educationists such as recruitment of teachers on merit, provision of basic facilities, capacity development of teachers and depoliticizing the teaching profession. She thanked the Minister Education Muhammad Atif Khan for his efforts in changing the educational landscape in KP and honouring their contributions. This is the first time in the history of KP that the teachers have been appreciated on merit and have been given cash awards up to the amount of 54 million, that is planned to be doubled in the current fiscal year. A total of 960 Principals, Head Teachers and teachers have been given cash prizes in a ceremony held at Government ShaheedHasnain Sharif Higher Secondary School No 1 in Peshawar on 11thSeptember 2015.The awards were based on Independent Monitoring Unit’s reports and were Rs100, 000 for each performing Head Teacher/ Principal and Rs50, 000 for each performing teacher. The performance was based on the results of 9th and 10th Grades in board examinations and those schools were selected that achieved one hundred percent result this year. Amongst the 840 male and female teachers who received awards, Naheed Akhtar SST Science of Government Girl’s Centennial Model School shared, “Its not about the money. Sure, money makes us feel happy but it’s the way we were treated for the first time with respect and honour and how it elevated our status in the eyes of family and community members. I never expected anything as I have been teaching wholeheartedly for 11 years and no one cared but this government has rekindled our hope and given us a new vigour and goal to strive for. We feel really proud and very thankful to our government for this honour.”

No respect for merit and hard work and gross neglect of the previous governments created a wide chasm between the sanctity of the profession and its treatment by the society and teachers themselves. This attitude of indifference towards the educational enterprise resulted in very low spending on education and it trivialized not only education but also the contributions of all those related to it including teachers. The current government of KP has shown from its budget allocation that education stands paramount as a priority. The current government of KP has shown its regard for the teaching profession, and its appreciation of the commitment and persistent hard work of teachers by giving out awards on merit and although they are the first in the history of KP but with the unwavering efforts and political will of the government, will be multiplied manifold over the years to come.