What lies at the root of social inequalities — concentration of wealth in a fewer hands or access to quality education to the chosen few? Humanity in most parts of the world faces issues: poverty, hunger, human trafficking, rampant corruption, unemployment, forced migration of people and — no or low access to quality education. Let us image again how education can level the field and provide equal opportunities.
Arguably, getting quality education rests on the family income. But it does not suggest that all public education schools are doing badly; neither are all private schools imparting quality education.
Most teachers impart a poor quality of education. In the private / profit sector, quality revolves around tuition fee. High-fee private schools do provide excellent education, but plenty of the private schools (despite taking high fee) impart poor quality education.
Private school teachers, other than those in high salary schools, do not even get minimum-wage levels of salary and that too is seldom paid on time.
Do we want this for the teachers? A bitter pill to swallow is that we find it hard enough to get good candidates into teaching profession. Quality of learning definitely banks on many factors. But teacher quality and efforts largely impact the quality of education.
Notably it is education which not only steers mankind out of darkness but also promotes intellectual growth leading to both individual and social upliftment. And most importantly, the noblest work of education can never be carried to the shores of progress and prosperity unless teachers, the gatekeepers of education, do not get the much-needed respect and recognition in society — and state as well.
End of the days when school teaching probably was seen as one of the leading jobs—more so in this part of the globe (and the teachers were seen as respectable citizens). Now the educated youth preferably seek jobs in the other fields: health, engineering, higher education, etc. For the youth, least attractive is school teaching.
Though the noble profession (of teaching) is challenging, the energy to handle it is often in short supply. Sometimes, a little motivation is required to remind yourself that you are a teacher and that your efforts are important and significant. True, even the best teacher needs a little extra push every now and then.
At educational institutions, teachers face disrespect, misbehavior and lack of motivation or passion from students. But this situation never breaks the morale and enthusiasm of teachers; they see the light at the end of the tunnel and lead from the front.
That it is teachers who inspire students to learn wherever life may take them, besides enable them to discover their interests, passions and themselves in the long run, is undeniable. It is teachers who give us doctors, engineers, scientists, filmmakers, architects, entrepreneurs, administrators, prime ministers and presidents; it is teachers who have the power to give us internet, atom bombs, communication towers and aeroplanes.
Agreed that some teachers are selfish; they get fat salaries and yet prefer to sell 'education' in the so called coaching centres far from the sight of the law enforcers. These law breaking teachers manage to escape the legal eye — ostensibly through unfair means. Though the government has appreciably taken a solemn stand against [private] coaching by government teachers, yet some employees— particularly teachers from school and higher education— are indulging in the illegal and invisible practice through the breach of the law!
This brazen violation of the law strongly hits school education apart from giving birth to economic and social inequalities .That, among other factors, in turn opens the door for social insecurities.
Beyond doubt, teachers work at educational institutions (schools or colleges) which bring the best out of the worst .By their sincere efforts, the innocence and ignorance of learner’s blooms into an evergreen tree which bears healthy fruit for the entire society and humanity. Without teachers, the educational institutions could become the graveyards of values: honesty, hardwork, humility and dedication.
Pertinently observing teachers' day every year is not only an honour to teachers but also an irrefutable evidence that they are an asset of society. And their selfless services can never be forgotten or belittled.
However whenever hardworking and dedicated teachers (in particular school teachers) visit offices, they return with a sad tale of humiliation and disillusionment. Their personal work is treated as an ordinary case and if the disposal of the case can take five minutes to complete, it takes days together to be disposed of.
That leaves a less-fortunate school teacher in deep trouble and heartbroken. Never have we experienced that such a teacher's personal or even official piece of work is done on priority on the premise that his/her time is precious and society cannot afford to waste the teacher's time.
Recently, a teacher — who teaches about 300 students daily at a school— was required to submit a vital piece of paper to be obtained from a department. The teacher was ordered to wait for many hours though he requested the authorities that his stay there would waste the time of his students; who listened? Who believed? He was not even let inside the gate of the department. A five- minute piece of work to prepare the paper took three hours.
Yes, a handful of teachers loaf around and do not shoulder their responsibilities seriously. These teachers use their influence and affluence to get their way, thereby end up wasting the precious time of the underprivileged. No worries at all. These foul- playing teachers have cultivated a good friend circle in offices that empowers them to game the system.
Moreover, we have seen teachers living in miserable conditions: they are denied their property share for decades by parents, are thrown out of the house and their spouses are oppressed and abused. In disputes at their home places, teachers are not heard or understood. Arbitrarily are they judged as unfit and immature?
And it is betrayal and akin to backstabbing when the society treats teachers discourteously and divides them into good and bad ones simply on the basis of the nature of their posts; the division, though unproductive in all respects, is not based on qualification and performance. A particular but major section of school teachers is suffering from stereotyping and marginalization. Yet, these less-fortunate teachers (though 70% of them were highly qualified before their recruitment) are giving their hundred percent—both in academic and non-academic work—whether at the elementary or secondary schools.
All teachers need to be treated equally; yes, there are a few bad apples whose services are extremely poor and bring loss to society but these teachers need refinement and direction.
For attracting better brains, teaching needs to be raised to the status of a profession known for privileges, respect and recognition. Money is important but most important is the sentiment of reimagining education and teachers to take on social disparities.
(Author is a teacher by profession and RK columnist. Feedback: email@example.com)