World Teachers Day - 5 October 2010

In response to UNESCO’s World Teachers’ Day appeal, many of you sent in stories about inspiring teachers. Here is a selection.

World Teachers’ Day, held annually on 5 October since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. It is an occasion to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels

Your stories

A lifetime devoted to children with disabilities

“Born in 1973, Qiu Xinhui suffered from a disability due to polio in early childhood. As a teenager, he made up his mind to create a school where children with disabilities could enjoy the same education as everybody else.

After a long career, from teaching children individually at home, Qiu Xinhui is the founder/principal of Luohe Language Training Centre for deaf children (Henan province, China).  In the past decade, the school has also become a home for children with autism and learning disabilities.

Over a thousand students have now learned how to speak using the special method developed by Qiu Xinhui. From modest beginnings, today his school now features three buildings and has become the largest school in Henan Province with the greatest number of deaf students in rehabilitation. Solidarity is part of the programme, fundraising for charity and visiting the elderly the nearby nursing homes. His students have won awards in many disciplines as well as awards for outstanding youth, and have featured on national television. “

Mr. Zhang, colleague of Qiu Xinhui (China)

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Teaching by example

“I never thought teachers could do more than urge their students to work. Like many other students, I thought all teachers were strict, until I met Ms. Zhang. Ms. Zhang is my teacher and a very kind person.

When the earthquake struck Yushu (Qinghai, China) on 14 April 2010, our school launched fundraising activities. Ms. Zhang donated a lot of her own money. When she made the donation I think I saw tears in her eyes. She encouraged students to help. She said, ‘This disaster could happen to anyone. People in Yushu are in difficulty. As their compatriots, we should show our love and make a contribution, to comfort them in the aftermath of the disaster and help them live better. They have already suffered a lot, and we should extend a helping hand."

Cygnus Stock (Beijing, China)

Mother, First Lady and lifelong teacher

“My late mother, Singoleo Hanson Mataskelekele (née Lini), was a longtime teacher at all levels from pre-school to lecturing at the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education. She coordinated the secondary curriculum in Vanuatu, organized and negotiated funding for curriculum development workshops for secondary teachers and helped to found the Vanuatu Teachers Union.

She always believed in social justice for everyone and was passionate about promoting teachers and their welfare. She was also a strong advocate for our country's independence and risked her position as a teacher to hold meetings and fundraisings at her house.

My mother was appointed the First Secretary to the Minister of Education In 1998,. Then in 2001 she became Education Secretary of The Diocese of Vanuatu (Anglican Church) and was one of the few women who ever attended the Provincial Synod of Melanesian countries.

She became First Lady of the Republic of Vanuatu In August 2004, when Kalkot Mataskelekele (her husband and my father) became Vanuatu's Head of State. After his term ended in September 2009, they lived simple normal lives until her sudden passing on 6th July 2010.”

Barbara Sese (Vanuatu)

Humour and creativity in a Gaza classroom

Susan Abdallah was a teacher in the American International School of Gaza,
which was destroyed in January 2009.

She was a very good teacher, and used any stimulus to overcome the situation there.

Susan and her sister taught English and held their students to very high standards. Using songs, humour, and projects to decorate the classroom, they managed to create a positive atmosphere in the class, to increase the quality (of education) and reduce the stress. 
Students need more teachers like Susan!

María José Lera (Spain)

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The teacher who listened

“My father was an abusive alcoholic....and [I] had no real sounding board except for Mrs. Walton my English teacher. This teacher took a personal interest in me and knowing she was there for me helped my self-confidence.

Mrs. Walton saw an article that I wrote for the school paper and she took me aside and suggested that I consider writing as a career. She said I had talent and if I developed my abilities, doors could eventually open for me.

When I received my first cheque for an article I wrote and could finally call myself a professional writer I held it to my chest and said a silent prayer of gratitude to Mrs. Walton.

Here I am 50 years later: I have my own column, I write for local and national papers and magazines and I continue to pursue a career path that might never have opened to me had it not been for one teacher who believed and encouraged me at an age when I did not believe in myself.

I think teachers do an admirable job and it is clear that the education system does not always make it easy for them to do what they love. I will always feel a deep sense of gratitude to Mrs. Walton, the one teacher who listened, heard and helped me find my own voice.”

Coralie Darsey-Malloy (Canada)

All photos

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