Teachers are the beacon lights. They enlighten us. They take us out from the shackles darkness. They act as medium through which the society can flourish, be at peace, achieve progress and prosperity. The role of a teacher is instrumental in bringing a change in a person. No matter who we are, what we have become today; we will always acknowledge the pivotal role that our noble teachers played in our upbringing.
This year in the month of January 2019, one of our relatives, Master Mohammed Baqir (Bilal Sob) of Sebdan, Budgam died. He was the retired head master of the education dept who had rendered tireless services at many govt higher secondary schools of the Budgam district. He was not only an extraordinary teacher but also a great philanthropist. In that vile weather, for many days I witnessed people from all walks of life visiting his home to convey their condolences. I was surprised to find people of all ranks from Directors to Doctors, Accountants to Artists, Engineers to Entrepreneurs , Teachers to Traders, Professors to Politicians had been his students and they credit their success to this great son of the soil. I heard many of them saying that how often they would change their directions once they saw their teacher on the road, so that he might not misunderstand them for roaming around. They shared their stories how he took pains to help them and touched their lives in those days of abject poverty. He would never compromise on work ethics and self esteem. Above everything, it was only and only respect which the teacher demanded and deserved from the pupil.
But now things have changed drastically. Everyone feels it a moral responsibility to write and talk about the govt teachers holding them solely accountable for the poor results of the govt schools. There was a time when there was so much of reverence for them but now they are being victimized unnecessarily. They are losing enthusiasm for teaching and feel like trapped. Day by day this noble profession is becoming dull and distasteful for them.
The candidates for the posts of teachers are selected by the authorized boards only. They have to take tough examinations to be successful. If we evaluate and analyze last few years’ teacher selection lists, we won’t be surprised to find that highest proportion of the selected candidates have Mphil, PhD, and other higher qualifications.
From administration to a common man everyone is at liberty to take a dig at them without realizing their own role and involvement. There is a missing link, the missing dots need to be connected so to address this grave concern at the grassroots levels. Let’s me share with you few observations. I believe the role of following stakeholders also needs to be put in proper perspective so that we can work as a team to revamp the whole system.
The first person responsible (FPR) for the proper grooming of children are parents and it starts right from the day when the child is born. From early nourishment to the nuptial bliss, parents are the key factors to set things in right direction. Prior to the teacher, it’s the responsibility of a parent to be enthusiastic about their children’s education. It doesn’t matter if the parents have the avenues to teach their children or not but now the education is affordable and can even be availed free of cost. The govt is also providing free meals. More than 80% of the government schools are operating in rural areas where the economic condition of people is not that bad. The highly qualified and experienced staff is appointed to teach there but still the final results are not at all impressive. What I have found might surprise you but it’s my duty to make you familiar with the ground realities. It is not necessary whether the parents are literate or not but at least they can make it a point to visit school regularly to know about the progress and personality development of their children. As a matter of fact the parents lack interest and the interactions are not taking place at government schools. The students enrolled in these schools won’t be having more than 30% attendance in an academic year; reason being, they are lured to earn easy money at an early age. The same students who bunk their classes, are seen working in paddy fields, as bus conductors, mechanics, construction workers, hair dressers, shop keepers etc. Can the teachers be blamed for the low attendance when the parents make their children work. When the students have not attended classes how come the best results will be expected. When the monthly absentee report are discussed with the parents they turn deaf ear to the pleas of the teachers. Even the local masjid representatives are requested to advise the students and encourage parents to send their wards regularly but they also fail to motivate them. Had there been any interest left in these parents to motivate their children to study sincerely and seriously, no one could stop them to beat the best and be the best. Unfortunately at the end the easy and available prey who is left to be blamed is the poor teacher.
I could not believe when one female teacher told me that at her work place there is a a shopkeeper near the school entrance who is always keeping a keen eye on the arrival and departure timings. He even mocks at the teachers if they are late. They are sure he shares telltale details with the department. Is it justified on his part to make a mountain out of a molehill; 10-15 minutes late arrival when it’s utmost difficult for the female teachers to board the crowded buses, when the number of buses plying on the route is very limited in the rural areas.
When children of the locality are involved in different engagements other than studies, is it not the moral responsibility of the young and old to reach them and ensure they will not remain absent even for a single day. At present when our youth are drifting towards drug addiction at an alarming rate, is it not necessary to keep a tab on every suspicious element rather than wasting time on useless enquiries. We should understand that teachers are the most reliable persons who can influence our children and save them from falling into the whirlpool of social evils.
Wrong Public Perception
There are certain people in our society who don’t hesitate to tell blatant lies about government teachers. They like to gossip that the govt teachers have enough free time to knit sweaters during their working hours. How far this is true could not be ascertained in reality in this highly advanced technology driven society where matters of concern cannot remain hidden for too long from the social media glare; why put someone to disgrace, create distractions and distort the facts.
Non- serious Students
Gone are the days when students used to travel many kilometers to attend classes. But now even if students are present in the classes, they are least attentive to take pains and understand what the teacher is teaching. They don’t take them seriously. Teachers on the other hand feel dejected and disconnected due to the non responsive students.
The efforts of Delhi administration are highly appreciable for upgrading the infrastructure and changing the outlook of the govt schools operating there. They have been provided with the best infrastructure but in J&K, children still have to study in small brick & mud houses, tents and Tin sheds, that are devoid of facilities to protect them in harsh winters and in the scorching summer heat.
It is sheer wastage of resources to operate 3-5 schools within the radius of only few kilometers without providing them proper facilities. It will be more rewarding and rational to establish and focus only on 1-2 schools with facilities that attract students. But unfortunately, for many decades teachers have been teaching in the same suffocating surroundings which even don’t have proper sanitation facilities. Shouldn’t there be such ambience which children cherish. In this regard, on 20th Sep 2019 the govt shared the road map on how to transform the government schools. The efforts of Srinagar administration under the able leadership of the Deputy commissioner Dr.Shahid Iqbal choudhary are highly appreciable for taking the initiative to establish 25 pilot schools on modern lines.
Too much of Supervision
There is an undue interference from the locals, district administration, higher officials of the education department, and even some have gone to the extent of adopting few of them as their lap schools. There is no end to the people who visit these schools on one or other pretext trying to streamline the system but the results are even more worse. The outcome has not improved in spite of the fact so much has been put at stake and it’s evident that they all are beating about the bush. Who will make these administrators understand that results will be always the same as the problem is addressed and evaluated from the top without touching the baseline. How can it be possible to improve the performance of 8th or 10th class students on whom you are trying new strategies and guidelines but as matter of fact their primary schooling was not up to the mark. Somehow they had been promoted to next classes but finally get entangled in intractable problems where they get stuck.
Primary education is the epicenter where from the actual problems spring. This is the area which has been neglected since long and finally created a mess. The lower primary education department has not been focused on seriously, with the result it has become difficult to bring change and achieve success in board exams. It’s scientifically proven that the brain development of a child happens only in the primary stage of his life and if we fail to put that in proper use, the results will be always disastrous. In govt schools, the primary school curriculum is very outdated and the affairs are assigned to the seniors teachers who have failed to put modern teaching techniques into practice.
Be sincere and realistic to address the areas of concern discussed above. Focusing on marginal issues and ignoring core problems will only create more chaos. The strategies should be executed from bottom to top not vice versa. Revitalize and rationalize the elementary education by giving chance to new lot of teachers who I believe can handle the state of affairs more professionally and perfectly. It’s the area which can be the real game changer.
Let us all act in unison to bring back the lost pride of govt teachers otherwise what’s the point of investing so much when the primary target is to humiliate the ones who are the torch bearers of the nation.