However, reality is that the government schools have become synonymous with poor infrastructure, ‘Take it easy’ attitude and zero accountability on part of teachers.
Team Haryana First
From being the most respected and noble profession to hitting the bottom of career preferences, teaching, as a profession, has had a negative growth. It has gone down a long way. And in the 21st century, if the youth of our country is still unemployable after graduation, teachers need to own up the responsibility.
The teachers till around 70s and even early 80s were much respected. Despite low salaries, people took up teaching as more of a social responsibility. And somehow, the students they taught too turned out to be decent individuals, even if professionally not very successful.
Despite the absence of google, students learned.
Today, when there is easy availability of information; improved teaching practices and salaries of teachers among the best, the quality of education is lacking. So, who is really responsible? A variety of factors can be pointed. However, one of the main factors is the Missing Teacher.
According to information provided by the Haryana Government in reply to an RTI, today, the teacher community in government schools of Haryana is almost one lakh strong. That, by any standards, is a huge man power resource. And, there are still about another 30,000 vacancies. If we assume an average monthly salary of a teacher at Rs30,000, calculate the huge amount of budget spent on this man power every month.
If we look at the quality of education and learning outcomes that we have in Haryana in proportion to the budget spent, it is poor to put it respectfully. A look at the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019 tells the whole story.
Education is a state responsibility, as after implementation of the RTE Act in 2010, Right to Education is now a fundamental right for children aged between 6 to 14 years.
And by education, we mean quality education.
However, reality is that the government schools have become synonymous with poor infrastructure, ‘Take it easy’ attitude and zero accountability on part of teachers. Of course, exceptions are always there.
However, the situation is such that if you give the parent an option where the two schools (Government and Private) have identical situations, he would any day prefer private over the government school. Of course, private school education comes at a cost. And today, the parent is willing to pay that because of the poor image he carries of government schools.
This despite the fact the government education comes free along with free books and dress, mid-day meals, cash scholarships and so much more.
Add to this the fact that it is the brightest of the lot that is selected for the government teaching jobs. The qualified youth have to clear a tough HTET to become eligible for government job. However, this recruitment of bright talented youth hasn’t transformed into improved results or image. This remains a concern.
Surprisingly, the applicants to government teaching jobs do not opt for the same in private schools. True, the salary in private schools is nowhere near that offered by the government job, but then teaching can’t be just about the salary. This, perhaps, is an important pointer.
It is also true that the government teachers are involved in lot of non-academic work. But that again is mainly due to the fact that it’s a huge man power resource and the availability of time with the government teachers (the school timings and working days are less compared to the average government employee). However, this can be no excuse for poor results, as the basic work of the teacher is to teach. The government teachers lobby is very strong and if it wants it can have its way with the government.
Over the years, the recruitment of teachers has seen lot of political interference and been marred in controversies across governments of different political parties. The number of votes involved (teacher families) has made it a lobby too hard to ignore and one which nobody wants to touch.
However, over the past couple of years, the state government has launched quite a few initiatives to improve the quality of teaching and learning outcomes. Programmes like the Professional Resource Groups for improving quality of teachers, Saksham (for students) to improve the learning outcomes, scholarships, coaching classes, involvement of parents through PTMs for better feedback, involvement of corporates to improve infrastructure, etc have happened, but lot more needs to be done.
If the “not so handsomely paid” teachers of private schools can produce results, there is no reason why the bright teachers of government school can’t do it. It is the intent that matters. Also, there is no denying that many good teachers exist in government schools and are doing their bit. But the percentage is too small to make any significant impact.
Teaching is not a 9 to 5 office job. You also need a bit of passion to make it count and bring a change. Motivation and accountability on part of teachers are two important factors that differentiate and explain the difference of performance between government and private schools. However, once you have a good pay check (government teachers), it also becomes their moral duty to ensure quality education to children, especially because today it is mostly the children of underprivileged sections of the society that go to government schools. And it is they who need it the most. Could there be a better service to the society than this. But what stops this huge man power from doing this is a mystery?
Teachers in government schools need to introspect and answer. Not to anybody but to themselves. And if they decide, there is nothing that can stop them from changing the face of education in the state; the government schools to rise.
This Teachers’ Day, can they decide to stand up and be counted?
Will the Missing Teacher come back?
Time will tell. We pray they do.