VJ Sharma Lead SEQ, ADOBE, New Delhi, 5th September, 2013
It’s Teacher’s Day today and I was wondering what to share. This thought was there in my mind till lunch and lunch table discussion started with the same topic. And then it moved towards the way schools operate in India, how the trends have changed in urban and rural India. Let’s see how things have changed…
I belong to rural India and have deeper understanding of that part of my country. And I feel that many things changed during the last decade. Most of my schooling happened in government schools and I moved out of senior secondary school in 2001 to pursue engineering. That was a time, when most of the village kids were going to government schools for primary education and 90 per cent of them would continue further studies in government schools only. Teachers in government school were those folks, who actually wanted to become teacher and cleared different exams and interviews. This may sound unrealistic in India, as we can say that many of the shifarishi folks must be becoming teachers. But the proportion must be minimal and here I am talking about Himachal Pradesh. But idea of sharing this information is that most of the government teachers of that time were sort of ideal for teaching kids who would define the future of our country.
The same thought is shared by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam with some different examples, which I would try to share in the end.
So 10 years back, most of the rural students of states like Himachal Pradesh were going to government schools for education. And if we see the current scenario, least fraction of students joined government schools. Now there are multiple factors which are driving this change in our country. One of the primary reason was NO CHANGE in government schools. These schools never bothered to see how education systems are changing and how technology and other things are important for kids coming to a school. These schools kept on focusing academics, marks, Pass/Fail, percentage, etc. There were very few kids who were doing well in other activities. Although, many teachers initiated some unique ideas, which sustained only during the tenure of that particular teacher.
With time, many private institutions came up with private schools and they marketed well the shortcomings of government schools. Of course, there is no marketing channel for government schools and slowly private schools in rural areas started becoming more popular. There were many reasons, but all of them were true only on paper. These private schools started doing many other activities apart from academic practices in the campus.
One of the reasons for the shift was also driven by our own political parties. Privatization brought good amount of money for politicians, they always supported processes which ease the job of private schools with any control. So it became very easy to open an approved school with very basic infrastructure.
Now let’s look at the teachers we have in these private schools and their motivation level. Most of these teachers get a salary of 3000 to 8000 rupees and most of them are below 5000. With such high inflation in India, can you imagine how a teacher in these schools must be running his/her home? What would be the motivation? This is one of the topics, where we can keep questioning different things and type of folks who are teaching kids of this country.
To me, the education system in rural India is very immature and it’s more like imitating fashion-trends. Most of the private schools in rural India are trying to imitate good brands in urban India without resources, which is sort of funny. At this point of time, I am restless and feel like quitting this article as there is no end to the fundamental problems our education system has.
Now let’s look at the teachers joining government schools these days. There is deep political influence which is hard to prove in our current system. Since there is so much political influence, most of the times these folks spend time in politics rather than teaching. Although there are exceptions everywhere, but in the education system exceptions should happen other way round.
If we only look at the salaries teachers are getting in schools, we get an indication that which slot is teaching kids of our nation. I don’t think that I need to define the term ‘slot’ further. And urban schools are doing the same as far as salaries are concerned. Most of the schools get signatures of teachers on different salary as compared the real amount they give. A teacher who puts signature on 15000, gets almost Rs.3000-5000 and that’s too in branded schools which everyone of us are aware of.
At times, I feel really bad for our country which is loosing on every front. I know, these are very pessimistic thoughts but somehow these factors make us think that why bad trends are increasing in every aspect of our life. In our day to day discussions, we feel people who are subject masters are doing some specialized jobs instead of teaching. In our country, there are very few educational institutions which offer good compensation for teachers / professors / coaches. And in other countries, many good Indian teachers are in high demand and of course, they are moving out for obvious reasons. Education is one of the main focus for many of state governments but unfortunately fundamental things are not getting focused.
It’s a very lengthy topic and we can keep discussing it for a long time. I didn’t want to write such a sad write up on Teacher’s Day, but these thoughts have caught me and hope that things will happen for good in future.
My basic question is that:
Who are becoming teachers in our country, what is their motivation level and how the Education System is encouraging right folks to join this profession?
Look forward to your thoughts on the state of Education around you through comments…