TEACHERS play an instrumental role in shaping the future of children and are often seen as the guiding light in many pupils’ lives. They instil positive thoughts in children and sow seeds of curiosity and motivation, which is why we celebrate them on World Teachers Day. However, schools have become hotspots for violence where teachers are bogged down with serious challenges and other obstacles plaguing the education system. Teachers do not feel safe anymore, due to the recent attacks perpetrated against them by some of the pupils, especially in high schools. Principal of Victoria Primary School Lajeeth Maharaj said teachers must be recognised for the crucial role they play in shaping pupils’ lives.“I appeal to the community to get involved in recognising the role that teachers play in their children’s lives. Teachers must be given sufficient opportunity to give the best in the classroom. “The school is the property of the community, therefore I feel that parents should play their role too in ensuring that teachers are recognised,” Maharaj said. World Teachers Day was celebrated on October 5 under the theme “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”. Maharaj said successful countries around the world invest heavily in quality education. “Sadly, in South Africa, this doesn’t happen as our leaders have their priorities all wrong. Successful countries invest in quality programmes for teachers. Teachers are the drivers of the education system and in South Africa we are not given due recognition. “The job of the teacher in non-model C schools is that much more difficult with limited resources and huge class sizes. Teachers need more resources to become effective. Therefore, it becomes necessary for us as principals to ensure that we create favourable conditions for effective learning and teaching to take place,” Maharaj said. He added that communities in which schools are located need to play a more active role in assisting the teacher in the classroom.“At Victoria Primary, I ensure that my teachers are acknowledged for their good work and commitment to our pupils despite the many challenges facing us,” Maharaj said.As nation builders, amidst the challenges that beset the education system, teachers celebrated World Teachers Day last Friday — a day meant to recognise the role of teachers and celebrate the quality of education. Billy Nair circuit manager Selvan Chetty said teachers in Tongaat and Verulam schools are safe and pupils are not attacking them. Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza also urged parents to protect teachers in schools.“The day gives a platform not only to teachers as individuals but also to the profession. We are looking at the contribution that our teachers make in our society in changing pupils’ lives. It’s unfortunate that while celebrating this day we have witnessed a lot of negative things happening at our schools. Teachers are not safe at schools,” Caluza said.She said previously parents took it upon themselves and formed committees to ensure that teachers are safe at schools. “Our call to parents is that they should go back to basics and make the safety of the teachers at schools a priority. Education is a basic human right and it is also enriched to the Constitution,” Caluza added.