An endangered species?

Shubangi Rajput

All was not well in the teacher’s world before the pandemic and now after the pandemic, the problems have only exacerbated. What are these problems? Why is teaching no longer a preferred choice of profession in a land where teachers are placed even above God? Here are my views.

Government jobs have always been valued. And while they may not seem as lucrative as before, becoming a government teacher still means security and more perks than teaching in a private school. However, the path to becoming a government teacher is so long and arduous that it ceases to be appealing to many. The result is that unworthy candidates end up becoming school teachers and if at all suitable candidates do make it, pathetic systems and bureaucracy demotivate them sooner than later.

Then there is the fascination for IIT and medicine. The rise of this trend only displays our herd mentality. Despite eye-opener entertainers like Tare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots, parental pressure in their children’s lives is still very much prevalent. To add fuel to fire is the large scale growth of edtech firms, especially post pandemic. With their learn from anywhere promise and eye-catching audio-visual content, parents have clearly put schools and school teachers on the lowest pedestal.

The third factor for teaching slipping down the list of desirable professions is the difference between what teachers are paid and the effort they are expected to put in. There is no uniformity in payment in private schools. The basic salary of a new entrant in a multinational company is equal to a secondary school teacher’s salary. Bonuses and increments are non-existent for a teacher no matter how exemplary her service. Private schools don’t even follow government norms when it comes to paying salaries. And despite the fact that teaching is a female dominated field (especially in urban India), day care facilities and monthly permissible leave for period related issues are not given much thought.

The fourth reason, lack of freedom at work. Teachers are tied with too many rules. There is very little room for her to experiment, explore and incite a thirst for knowledge in children. Even if it is the teachers who know what students need, they are never part of decision making or policy matters.

 And the fifth and most recent reason–the pandemic. In the pandemic world, there are essential services and non-essential services. And clearly teaching is not considered essential. Thousands of teachers have lost their jobs without warning. Pay cuts have become the norm. The constant struggle to learn and equip oneself with new technologies, too much work pressure and no me time has made teachers more vulnerable than ever before.

The five factors listed here are only my observations, but I believe they need careful listening to and prompt resolutions. We shouldn’t be surprised if one day school teachers are declared endangered species.

The author is Vice Principal and PGT chemistry in Adani Vidya Mandir Ahmedabad, Gujarat. She is a passionate science learner and likes to share her learnings with people of all age groups. She can be reached at [email protected]

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