They deserve the dignity they are denied
Teachers enjoy special status in a society. They act as architects of young generation they shape and polish with hardwork and passion. They lead them towards a better future. The task and transition to lead society ‘from darkness to light’ by imparting education is a special attribute of a teacher who with devotion and dedication puts his sweat and blood to ensure the future of society is not compromised.
Teacher is a teacher no matter the categorization from primary level schools up to an apex institute like a university has varied entitlements like teachers, lecturers and professors respectively. In any educational system with a varied and diverse nomenclature for the professionals who are prime stakeholders, status and role of a teacher is at the core of every designation. Thus a teaching community surfaces as a distinct lot who irrespective of the level or institution they serve emerge as representatives of noble profession. It is their integrated and cumulative contribution that converts the human resource into a productive asset.
This synergy of sustained efforts at different institutional levels put together by teaching professionals produces quality human resource ingrained with knowledge and skills. They execute the vital and pre-requisite tasks without which the system will simply collapse. Quality human resource in any institution are an outcome and output of sustained endeavors and efforts of teachers who meticulously invest their time and energy to shape and guide the creation of bureaucrats, doctors, engineers, scientists, intellectuals, policy makers, journalists, academicians, administrators and many more who are endowed with capacities and competence to run the affairs of the system. If the hands of the clock are turned back, every individual with any achievement and acumen in any field will find the face/s of a teacher who directly or indirectly guided and groomed him to become an achiever.
SSA teachers are wrongly prefixed. Situation and scenario that accentuated this nomenclature at the launch of the centrally sponsored scheme aimed at realizing the dream of ‘education for all’ need to be revisited. At a time, when primary education system was deficient and defunct, SSA teachers came forward to offer their services at a paltry honorarium that was too meagre to make both ends meet. Enrolments rates improved, wastage and stagnation issues got addressed and the melody of morning assemblies started echoing form far off hamlets and habitats that had never smelled the scent of education. This nursing and care of young buds by SSA teachers made a remarkable transition in the overall improvement of primary education profile and thus strengthened the foundation of educational institution with the dint of their determination and dedication.
The crisis and the crunch time that SSA teachers are undergoing right now is not an individual incident and instance but is an important issue that is endangering future of thousands of teachers who have everything at stake including their families and their future. It is with this realization that their agony and agitation need not to be over looked and glossed over, but demands and deserves sympathy and solidarity from every conscientious soul especially the entire teaching fraternity to secure and safeguard their future.
In any civilized society, the compulsion for the teaching community to hit the streets and agitate and raise voice for their genuine grievances is reflective of declining societal values associated with the status of teacher. In the entire execution and implementation of SSA scheme for more than nearly two decades now, the new and sudden reinterpretation of the scheme that is pushing teachers to the wall is not only surprising but also shocking and putting teachers under the hammer for no fault of their own and bluntly exempting those who were at the helm of affairs at the launch of this scheme. Putting the onus on the teachers for the mis-implementation of scheme is truly unfair and unjustified.
The unusual and unpleasant reality that has surfaced as a colossal crisis for thousands of teachers across the state is a matter of serious concern. Teachers deem and deserve special treatment to concentrate on the primary task of enlightening young generation with knowledge and wisdom. True wisdom to reciprocate the contribution of teachers by all of us lies in acknowledging and appreciating the beauty of teaching profession by putting in place a system that honours every teacher and gifts him dignity and decorum at every point of time.
SSA teachers are heartbroken but not hopeless. Let us all support them so that their grievances are amicably resolved and there is an end to their desperation and dejection. Let the state resort to teacher-friendly gesture in being generous to accommodate their genuine grievance.
(Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor Department of Education (South Campus) University of Kashmir)