Restore dignity to them

A teacher is a patient listener, possess excellent communication skills, acts as a change agent and each day he updates himself and his students with innovative & exciting knowledge. He is a friend, a philosopher and a guide who holds our hand, shapes our mind, touches our heart, imparts good values in children and turns them into responsible citizens and productive members of society. A teacher is a beautiful human being and is always approachable. Teachers are the architects of society, students’ role models, every word they express seems right, everything about them looks good, they mould students into future leaders who shape the destiny of a nation.

The contribution of a teacher cannot be ignored at all. World over, teachers’ day is a significant occasion for people to show gratitude to their teachers. In India, the Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5th September since 1962. This is when Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the  first Vice-President and the second President of independent India, a distinguished academician, a great philosopher and a teacher, was one day requested by his students to allow them to celebrate his birthday. In return he said that it would be his honor if they celebrate his birthday in respect of all teachers. He used to say “there is huge role of teachers in nation building and for that sake teachers should be respected more”.

Teachers’ day is celebrated to acknowledge the challenges, hardships and special role they play in grooming students and in nation building. Despite playing such a crucial role, they rarely are shown the gratitude they deserve. We had an age-old tradition of holding teachers in great regard. Unfortunately, for past few decades, the teacher’s status has deteriorated from being a respected member of the society to being a less-significant government functionary who is relegated to the bottom of administrative hierarchy. With the result, teaching is no longer considered as an attractive career option by young and bright minds but is looked at rather a stagnant profession with few opportunities towards career progression. Let’s take an example of a senior secondary teacher, in J&K School Education Department, who may be elevated to the position of school principal purely on the basis of seniority rather than meritorious performance, which too takes more than 2 decades of his service without any scope for non-functional promotions/financial placements. It is not possible to recruit high quality talent in the system without exploring the causes that have made the brightest of our young and intelligent lot to view teaching as a last-resort career option and then to fix the issues wherever they appear.

This article offers an idea to review and revisit the J&K’s existing school education system in and out, strengthen the teacher training institutions and equip them with technology driven infrastructure, competence and passion development in teachers. Promoting performance-linked rewards, assured career progression, advanced professional development courses for teachers and principals and to do away with in-charge arrangements at the level of CEOs/Higher Secondary principals and faculty by initiating an appropriate process. An in-charge officer may not be in a position to govern effectively. Efficient teachers have been engaged in clerical jobs which have in-fact created a vacuum in the institutions later filled-up by contractual faculty which is disadvantageous.

The other issues requiring attention is eradication of drug menace among school going youth, modernizing examination and evaluation process, periodical updating of curriculum according to global requirements, development of critical thinking and analytical approach among students and incorporating an element of experiential pedagogy in learner education programmes. The gap and mistrust between schools and society needs to be removed, there should time bound transfers, catchments area condition to be taken into consideration while providing admissions in schools, introduction of teacher refresher courses for all subjects followed by monitoring and evaluation of outcome yielded. Additional benefits to teachers with extra qualifications, performance based promotions, no mid-session transfers, opening new doors of career opportunities and career progression, recognition of teachers’ role in nation building, parental involvement in teaching process and many more areas as envisaged in NEP-2020 need to be taken care of. The reformations will glorify teachers, revive the professionalism and quality teaching and will further beautify the education system. The reformation needs collective effort and initiatives from all the stakeholders.

Interestingly there was an official proposal generated by Directorate of School Education Kashmir which was later sent to the administrative department for consideration. The proposal argued that in order to restore and enhance the dignity of teachers and the teaching profession, we need administrative interventions to include the teachers in the J&K Warrant of Precedence. In most of the developed countries teaching profession attracts best of the minds, have attractive salaried and service packages; and teachers are granted social, legal and statutory privileges in their everyday social and administrative transactions.

The school education department is fortunate to have been served by efficient officers from time to time, few of them with extraordinary competence and commitment to reform the school education system in entirety includes the present Principal Secretary to Govt. School Education, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, Director School Education Kashmir and Director School Education Jammu among others. They are seen exceptionally interested in restoring the dignity of a teacher, splendor of teaching profession and education system as a whole.

The teaching fraternity  has much expectations associated with the incumbent principal secretary to Govt. department of  school education, to carry out all the reforms especially  JK Educational Administrative Service (JKEAS) and ACP as already in pipeline initiated by him and will take them to logical conclusion. He is determined to reform and revolutionize school education system in totality. He lays equal importance on both the education as well as teachers and is all set to introduce positive reformations at the level of higher secondary teachers in particular and entire school education teachers in general which can be substantiated by formation of various committees on his directions mandated to frame-up the proposals for recommendation on various issues confronted with school education department. The matter has not been expedited due to covid-19 pandemic lockdown. His dreams if turns into realty, would boost-up the morale of existing as well as prospective teachers and will make the profession an eye-catching career choice.

Conclusion:

Teaching is the source of knowledge and wisdom. Teachers  create awareness among the students and common people. They are source of light in the world. Their efforts must be recognized and honored by students and other stakeholders for their encouragement. Not long ago, teaching was a respected profession. It can be so again but responsibility needs to be shouldered by all the stakeholders.

Author is Commerce Lecturer at Govt. Higher Secondary Botingoo, Sopore. Views are personal.