10 April 2012

Heed the cry of the teacher

The unfortunate death of young teachers in Chennai and Sonepat got lukewarm response in the electronic and the print media. Understandable. In today's context teachers are expendable commodity and they cannot garner TRPs for the electronic media. We saw anchors getting reactions from self-styled psychologists and Principals. I didn't hear the voice of any ordinary teacher in all the TV programmes that I saw.
The psychologists, as expected, pontificated how we need to change our mindset, how we should be more sensitive towards a high school goer's emotinal needs. The Principals told us how the students, the teachers and the parents are all stakeholders in the fight against violence in school. In other words we need to boil the oceans to save a few good teachers.
I saw not a tear shed for the families of the unfortunate teachers.
Can we start with little things, though?
1. Make it mandatory for schools to insure teachers against intimidation, coercion and bodily harm. We must make sure that the teachers do not have to pay for this insurance.
2. Security arrangements during exam time, correction time and results declaration time.
3. A responsive helpline for teachers.
4. Make parents also accountable for any intimidation or bodily harm done to the teacher by the students.

Are we aware how intimidated a teacher feels when she walks into a class of 12th standard? Each one of the students tower over her by at least one to two feet. It is no use saying that a teacher should be able to control and bring discipline into the students. Teachers are teachers and not drill sergeants. Days of such homilies and platitudes are gone. They went out of the window when we started adopting the Western way of teaching. The gun culture of the Western schools are all before us and yet we want to emulate such soulless culture. We reap what we sow. Smartboard type of education will only produce googlesque students. Who was Mahatma Gandhi? Let's google and find out in our ipads.

The 4 points that I wrote above are immediate steps. The other steps are about dignity for the teacher:
1. A minimum standard of work station in classrooms and staff rooms for the teachers. Although most teachers today are women, we know that most schools do not even have toilets for female teachers. Today it is fashionable to remove tables and chairs meant for teachers from classrooms. Our great educationists will tell us that somehow a teacher teaches better if she keeps standing throughout her 8 hours in school.
2. Medical benefits for teachers. We know that most teachers are women. All medical cover for pregnancies must be borne by the school.
3. The management of the school must be made accountable for any mishap or untoward happening in the school. The management are the people who make the mega bucks but the wrath of the parents and students are faced only by defenceless teachers.
4. Teachers' children must be given free education in the school that he/she teaches. This should not be left to the whims and fancies of the school management.
5. The hours a teacher spends doing corrections/marking test papers outside of school must be compensated. Somehow we feel that a teacher does not deserve any free time while at home.

Heed the cry of the teacher before it is too late. Heed the cry before we have many 5 Star air conditioned schools but no teachers. Just for fun find out how many of us want to become teachers of our own volition. No one wants to become a teacher yet we want great teachers in our schools. Respect teachers only then will you find great and good teachers. A teacher by the name Dr Radhakrishnan became the Indian President. When will the time come when we have a Prime Minister who was an ex school teacher?

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