What I am painfully aware of is that the career of an educator is absolutely devalued today. For years now, we can barely make ends meet.
Do you like school?
I love it!
I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. My first memories are from the school desk, sitting between two girls and drawing something… I’d run away from home, where my aunt would look after me, straight to my mother’s school about a hundred meters away, and enjoy myself with the students until my aunt would come to pick me up. I couldn’t wait to become a student myself and my love for school grew more and more. Nothing was difficult for me, curiosity overcame all obstacles, A’s and awards kept coming… For me, teachers were the lights that illuminated my paths of knowledge, people for whom it was never a question as to whether they were right, they were my friends. Even today, when I meet some of them, I feel awe and love, joy that they are still alive, and I wish that one day my students will think about me like that.
I have been on “this side of the desk” for little over 37 years. Many of my students are successful businessmen, scientists, masters of their craft. They get in touch from different parts of the world and thank me for everything I gave them and what I taught them in electrical engineering; when we meet at one of the graduation anniversaries and they tell me that I am their “second mom”, my mouth grows into a smile and tears sparkle in my eyes, tears of beauty. That’s when I know that I didn’t make a mistake in using my free time to prepare the classes as well as possible, always making sure I had time during class to advise them, to point out their mistakes, to teach them friendship, love, tolerance, to educate them…
What I am painfully aware of is that the career of an educator is absolutely devalued today. For years now, we can barely make ends meet, we don’t have enough money for medicine, for quality food, we go hungry more and more often, and going to concerts, theaters, vacations all seems to be further and further from our reality. What will our retirements look like?
What bothers me even more is the attitude students have towards us nowadays, rude, full of disrespect and ridicule. Teachers have their chairs pulled under them, they are beaten on the street, shot at… It’s no wonder, when their parents have an attitude towards us which allows them to interfere with our work, to negatively comment on our every attempt to fight not only for higher wages, but for better overall education, which is on the verge of a precipice. And even that is no wonder considering the government treats us as a useless profession, when we keep receiving new requests from the Ministry of Education and the School Administration to write various unnecessary reports, fill in pointless tables, questionnaires… If we don’t write all of that, it’s as if we haven’t even worked!
Its own problem is that everyone demands higher grades than they deserve, that many are forced to give undeserved good grades, otherwise there will be a group of parents who will write a petition in which they will demand that the teacher’s license be revoked, because “they give too difficult assignments”! Rumor has it that an article will be added to the Law on Elementary and Secondary Education, according to which we will be obliged to explain in writing every grade that the parent is not satisfied with! The Ministry will pander to them, and we will find ourselves on the streets, if we even survive the torture of arrogant students and their parents.
And then the question arises as to why there are fewer and fewer students at teachers’ colleges and why the best students no longer opt for the profession of an educator. I am afraid that it will only get worse and that my grandchildren will have no one to teach them.
If something doesn’t change in Serbia soon and education doesn’t return to its rightful place, woe to our children, woe to us and woe to Serbia!
Woe to the schools where those who love it will no longer work!
Biljana Stevanić, professor of electrical engineering in Gornji Milanovac