A tribute to all teachers: time to recognize, value, and restore respect to all Teachers

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A tribute to all teachers: time to recognize, value, and restore respect to all Teachers

In the Indian context, teachers are revered and respected, often equated with spiritual guides. The ancient Sanskrit phrase, “Guru Devo Bhava” (Teacher is God), reflects the high regard for teachers in Indian culture. They are seen as the torchbearers of education, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Today, teaching can also be a thankless job. A little more than a fortnight ago, we celebrated Teacher’s Day in the country and honoured our beloved teachers. It is time to recognize our teachers throughout the year beyond the one dedicated day September 5 each year, which is also very important.

Ask anyone of any age, anywhere about the people who have made an impression and influenced their choices in life. I am sure there will be a generous mention of a teacher somewhere from kindergarten to the University wherein the teacher has left an indelible mark in their lives. Teaching is always a noble profession and teachers play an important role in shaping the lives of people who go on to make or break the destiny of any nation.

Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the future of our society, yet they often face challenges that can make their work difficult. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Low Pay: In many places, teachers are not compensated commensurate with the impact they have on society. This can lead to financial stress and make the profession less attractive to talented individuals.

2. High Workload: Teachers often work long hours, grading papers and planning lessons outside of school hours. This can lead to burnout and stress.

3. Lack of Resources: Many teachers work in schools that lack the necessary resources for effective teaching, such as textbooks, technology, and classroom supplies.

4. Limited Professional Development: Opportunities for career growth and professional development can be scarce, leaving teachers feeling stagnant in their careers.

5. Lack of Respect: Despite the importance of their work, teachers often don’t receive the respect they deserve from society, which can be demoralizing.

Addressing these issues requires systemic changes, such as increasing teacher pay, reducing class sizes, providing adequate resources, offering professional development opportunities, and fostering a culture that values and respects teachers.

Why teaching does not attract the right talent

Teachers in India are not compensated commensurate with the impact they have on society. Like all noble professions, the majority of teachers are in it for the sheer passion and the impact that they have on the lives of so many people year after year, every year.

The role of teachers in shaping society cannot be overstated. They are the ones who mold the minds that will become the doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, religious, and politicians of the future. In India, however, teachers often face challenges that can hinder their ability to perform this crucial role effectively.

1. Low Compensation: In India, the pay scale for teachers, especially in private schools, is often not commensurate with the critical role they play in society. This can lead to financial stress, making the profession less attractive to talented individuals who might otherwise have chosen to teach. This is a significant concern, as it can lead to a shortage of quality teachers, which in turn affects the quality of education.

2. Lack of Incentives: There are few incentives for teachers to improve their skills or pursue further education. Without opportunities for career progression or professional development, it can be challenging to maintain motivation and passion for the job.

3. Large Class Sizes: Teachers in India often have to manage extremely large classes, sometimes with more than 50 students. This makes it difficult to give individual attention to each student, impacting the quality of education.

4. Insufficient Resources: Many schools, particularly in rural areas, lack the necessary resources for effective teaching. This includes basic infrastructure, teaching aids, and access to technology.

5. Societal Perception: The teaching profession is often not given the respect it deserves in society. This lack of recognition and value can be demoralizing for teachers and deter potential candidates from entering the profession.

The cascading effect of these challenges is significant. As stated earlier, when the teaching profession fails to attract and retain talented and passionate individuals, the quality of education suffers. This, in turn, impacts all sectors of society, as the students of today are the professionals of tomorrow. Without a strong educational foundation, we cannot expect to have ethical and competent doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, or politicians.

Necessary reforms in education and policy changes

Addressing these issues requires systemic changes. This could include increasing teacher salaries, providing opportunities for professional development, reducing class sizes, improving school infrastructure, and fostering a culture that values and respects the teaching profession. By investing in our teachers, we invest in the future of our society.

The idea of a teacher cadre in the Civil Services of India has been discussed for a while, with the aim of elevating the status of the teaching profession and addressing some of the challenges teachers face. However, this initiative has not been implemented yet due to several reasons:

1. Bureaucratic Hurdles: The creation of a new cadre in the Civil Services requires significant bureaucratic coordination and changes in policy. This can be a time-consuming process with many potential obstacles.

2. Financial Implications: The establishment of a teacher cadre would likely involve higher remuneration for teachers, which could have significant financial implications. Given the large number of teachers in India, this could pose a substantial burden on the government’s budget.

3. Resistance from Existing Cadres: The creation of a new cadre could face resistance from existing cadres in the Civil Services, who may see it as a threat to their own status and privileges.

4. Lack of Political Will: Ultimately, the implementation of such a major initiative requires strong political will. If the political leadership does not prioritize this issue, it is unlikely to move forward.

While the idea of a teacher cadre has potential benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s not a magic bullet for the challenges facing the teaching profession in India. A comprehensive approach that addresses issues like teacher training, infrastructure, class size, and societal attitudes towards teaching is also needed.

Growth prospects for in service teachers:

Teachers in India have several opportunities to upgrade their qualifications:

Bachelor of Education (B.Ed): This is a basic qualification for High School teachers in India. If a teacher doesn’t already have this degree, they can pursue it to enhance their qualifications. In-service primary and middle school teachers with a Teacher Training Diploma obtained via face to face mode and with relevant teaching experience can obtain a B.Ed. degree through Open Distance Learning mode currently offered only by Indira Gandhi National Open University in the country today.

Remember, the best way to upgrade qualifications is to choose a path that aligns with one’s career goals and interests

Post graduation in Education/relevant subjects: In service, teachers can pursue a masters degree through the Open Distance Learning Mode through recognized Open Universities such as IGNOU.

PhD: A doctorate program is quite intensive and requires a dedicated approach. In-service teachers should be provided grants and sabbatical leaves to pursue PhD programs. PhDs can also be pursued through IGNOU. Employers should be flexible and offer necessary incentives to in-service teachers in both the government and private sector to pursue PhD programs.

This is another initiative from “Heart of Giving” to create a platform for the teaching community in India to come together and share their best practices, synergize, and create an ecosystem that attracts more talent to the profession.

If you are a teacher, educator, policy maker, or a stakeholder in the education sector for more information: Connect with the author Antony Sajeeth founder Needuva Hrudhaya Foundation an NGO working in the field of education and healthcare, creating awareness on affordable education for all.

Website: heartofgiving.in
Email: antony@heartofgiving.in

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1 Comment

  1. Teachers in the United States are extended an additional discount on purchases at most stores as a token of appreciation for their service. I understand that in India most Old students Associations and Alumni bodies do take care of their teacher’s welfare in a limited way. Also, at least, at the primary and high school levels there is this complete misunderstanding that teaching is the forte of Women. But let us accept the fact that the times have changed and there are no gender limited roles in society anymore or the limits are disappearing.

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