On May 2, schools and educational institutes throughout the country celebrated Teachers’ Day by paying special tribute to teachers for their contributions in building the nation. Our Teachers’ Day has a special significance because we also celebrate the contributions of His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo, the father of modern Bhutan, who gave special priority to modern education in the country.

It is good that we have one day in a year set aside to honour our teachers who help implement the country’s education goals. How else would we be able to recognise their priceless contributions otherwise? For all that our teachers give, they are largely forgotten in the nation’s scheme of things.

It is in the fitness of things that we celebrate the contributions of a visionary monarch and honour our teachers who help shape the destiny of our nation.

Building a sustainable society is important. For that to happen, empowering teachers is crucial. We have challenges of teacher shortages, poor training and low teacher morale. How do we empower our teachers? What we need is enough well-trained and professionally qualified teachers. But it is more important that our teachers are empowered, motivated and supported within well-resourced and effectively managed systems. Otherwise, the quality of education will suffer and our dream of becoming a knowledge-based sustainable society will be a little too elusive.

There are challenges myriad in our system. But we make sustained efforts to improve by not overburdening our teachers with non-academic responsibilities. It would be difficult to overhaul the system overnight. Our small efforts, one at a time, therefore, should be recognised. What we must bear in mind while we do so is that our intents and goals are earnest and sincere.

At the heart of education lies teachers. If our teachers are not empowered and are unhappy, education will not succeed. For what they give the nation, our teachers should be adequately rewarded.

But then we can certainly improve on our system so that our teachers feel valued and respected. This is the least we can do for our dear lopens.