A Cup Full Of Woes


The teaching profession has to contend with poor pay packages, and bad work conditions. This is putting off many youngsters from taking up teaching as a career, writes Radha Prathi

Today, in India, the number of schools run by the government and private managements have shot up like never before, but the education scenario itself does not present a rosy picture. To a large extent, formal education does not guarantee a high moral character nor does it assure academic excellence.

When several educators were consulted on the subject, it was like opening the proverbial Pandora’s Box.

Our education sector has a multiple personality disorder which effectively puts off teachers. Dilapidated buildings sans furniture and lack of even basic amenities, have all encouraged government teachers to constantly apply for transfers. There are schools which are run like corporates with uniformed staff, sporting activities like golf, and excursions to international destinations. Yet these schools face attrition as well paid teachers are expected to function under overwhelming constraints. The middle-path institutions have troubles of their own. They invariably do not have enough funds, space for laboratories, libraries, or even a playground, and they tend to operate from different venues adding to the chaos and confusion. Sooner or later the disorderliness puts off even the most dedicated of teachers.

Many school managements say that most youngsters who take up teaching no longer have the dedication, passion or knowledge like tutors of yore. Many of them take up teaching as a stop-gap arrangement until they discover greener pastures. Some others take up the job because it promises shorter work hours, or provides them an option to work on a part-time basis.

When some young teachers were confronted with this accusation, they quipped that it was an open secret that a teaching job did not attract money. The salary of teachers compares poorly with that of other professionals like software engineers, doctors or lawyers. Some educational institutions do not provide provident fund, gratuity and retirement benefits to all their employees. In fact many of them do not even give a certificate of experience to teachers who serve them for less than a year or two!
Teachers fumed that many a time their vacations were cut short unceremoniously, and that they had to face a cut in pay when they availed long leave for medical reasons or due to a bereavement.

Many teachers confessed that their teacher’s training courses hardly equipped them for any real-life teaching situation.

There was one common problem that all teachers — right from kindergarten to the post-graduate level — complained about, and that was how the teacher-student ratio had reached ridiculous levels giving them little or no opportunity to have a “one-to-one” relationship with their students.

Their energy is spent maintaining discipline in the classroom, and that too without taking recourse to corporal punishment. They are not able to focus on content beyond the syllabus because they constantly live under the terror of “portions to be covered”.

The introduction of the trimester system in schools, and the semester system at the undergraduate levels has left teachers harried even as they try to strike a balance between curricular and co-curricular activities.Though the CBSE, ICSE and pre-university courses still follow the annual system, their curriculum is  packed, and co-curricular activities are sacrificed in order to accommodate “main subjects”!

The use of technology in education has certainly helped teachers save a lot of time in preparing power point presentations and acquiring extra information on the subject. At the same time it has brought about a certain monotony and repetition which impairs originality in presentation. This can kill the joy of the teaching experience in the long run.

Several teachers complained that, many times, they are roped in for administrative and clerical duties. It is sports, arts and crafts teachers who are generally asked to substitute absent teaching faculty, giving them little or no time to prepare for the class, relax, gather their wits or even have their lunch at times.

Since teaching also involves constant testing and evaluation, teachers are invariably caught in one of these activities from time to time. As managements believe that 100 per cent commendable results can prove to be a veritable advertisement for the next year’s admission, teachers of private institutions are under more pressure than their government counterparts. On conditions of strict anonymity one teacher revealed, that sometimes marks of students who fail are enhanced to save the pride of the school.

Sometimes teachers are instructed to look the “other way” during invigilation. Lecturers also confided that the internal assessment marks of some students are tampered with in order to “teach them a lesson” or simply give them the “boost” to get that much coveted rank at the university! Some teachers who took up this noble profession in good faith have been disillusioned with the system.

Despite the many hassles, the teaching community is helping our country inch forward. If their contribution has to be qualitatively enhanced, the government and school managements, must redress teachers’ grievances, and help them become truly committed and competent.

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