On Teachers Day, 344 single school teachers in Kerala face uncertainty

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On Teachers Day, 344 single school teachers in Kerala face uncertainty
Thiruvananthapuram: As the nation celebrates Teacher’s Day on September 5 and accolades and awards for teachers pour in, life is uncertain for a group of Kerala teachers who brave wild animals, hostile weather and treks into deep forests to keep single teacher schools running.

There are 344 teachers across the state who have taken this job of uplifting the lives of children who live in deep forests. These teachers are, however, have not been given their due and are still working as temporary hands.

Sukumaran T.C is an example of such an exemplary teacher who braves all odds and walks 7 km one way to teach children in tribal hamlets within the forest area of Chekkady in Wayanad district since January 1, 2001.

Talking to IANS, Sukumaran said: “Life is tough and I had to trek 14 km through the dense forests and had even seen a tusker directly 20 metres from me and there was no point that I could turn back and run. I walked past him with a pounding heart and even now I feel a tremor inside me when I think of that incident. Several times I had seen a calf and elephant in the forest but had not ventured into the road.”

Almost all the teachers across the state are facing a similar situation and Mariamma, 43, a of a single teacher school in Idukki district, echoed the same difficulties and trauma she faces while traveling deep in the forest to teach children of Muthuvan tribe.

“I have to walk 23 km one way to reach the tribal hamlet deep inside the forest. I start by 7 a.m. and after brisk walking for four hours, reach the tribal hamlet of Muthuvan tribe. Narrow roads and the presence of wild animals like elephants, leopards, and boars make the journey too risky. I have encountered elephants en route as well as venomous snakes. Life is a risk day in and day out but giving light to the lives of these children makes me forget all these issues and it’s my passion now for the past twenty years,” Mariamma told IANS.

Both the major political fronts of Kerala, the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF, had long been promising these teachers that they would be made permanent and that they would be provided pensions but nothing has materialised.

Sukumaran said: “We are expecting this government to finally issue an order making us permanent employees. That would give a semblance of self-respect as well as security to an otherwise uncertain life we have led for the past several years.”

He said that Lissy, a teacher at Kattampuzha in Ernakulam district, was trampled to death by a wild tusker a few years back and said that this can happen to any of these teachers.

On the Teachers Day, these group of dedicated educators remain hopeful that the government would take decisions that would wipe out misery from their lives.

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