Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Teacher’s Day Or A One-Day Respite

          Once a child got a remark from his teacher on his test notebook: "poor child." Seeing this, the father scribbled down his response just above the teacher's remark: "The poor performance of my child shows how good his teacher is." The teacher may not have liked the response or he may have felt a prick in his ego, but this comment from the father entails a large truth in it, if not the whole truth. Of course, it’s impossible to measure the impact of a great teacher. The curiosity they ignite in young minds comes out some day in the form of new inventions, discoveries theories, new breakthroughs and beautiful art that make the world of tomorrow a better and brighter place.
          When king Dhananand of Patliputra disgraced Chanakya by calling him a petty ordinary begging brahmin and got him hustled out of his palace, he said, "A teacher is never ordinary. Creation and destruction play in his lap," This statement was not just a momentary retort emerging out of wrath, but he proved it later on practical ground. He educated an ordinary looking child, Chandergupta, destroyed the Nanda dynasty and enthroned him as emperor.
          However, with the flow of river of time, the scenario of education also changed, its implications and complexion changed. Moving out from the Gurukuls  and shantiniketans, today, it has entered the portals of big and plushy schools and colleges. But, in this whole journey, what happened to the status and esteem of teacher in the society is not what he can feel proud of. He lost a lot by his own deeds and a lot was robbed off from him. Once held above the stature of Govind, today the teacher has become a target of criticism, satire, drollery and ridicule. Parents are disappointed with him, high-ups are angry at him, and the government is not ready to trust his sincerity and integrity any more. What is left for him is Teachers' Day which is becoming more of a formality to be completed to maintain a traditional decorum rather than a celebration resulting from heartfelt respect and good will for teachers. On this day, programmes like man kee baat are held, the legends of teacher’s role and importance are sung, and the quotes of great people regarding his role are referred to in high-flown words. Some of the teachers even manage to notch up awards for themselves by this way or that way.
But what goes after that? Goes the Teacher’s Day, goes the euphoria created by it and teachers are made to feel miserable like a child whose balloon gets deflated at the prick of some thorn. Next day onward, the routine chores of his derision returns and go on till next Teachers' Day as a one-day respite. If some student gets good marks, the people say, "Oh! In fact the guy himself is brilliant and hardworking. It does not have much of teachers' doings in his performance." On the other hand, if results go off the mark a bit, there is big blabber around, "Oh! What, after all, these teachers do in the institution?"
What exactly went wrong that the society, which used to put teacher in high esteem, started disparaging him and relegated him to that low a place? Let’s try to understand.
          In fact, thanks to corrupt system, many teachers made into this noble profession by their political strings. Far from acknowledging teaching as a profession with passion and mission, their basic aim was to warm their pockets on first of every month. The number of such teachers is not that much, but it is not that less either. If one fish is enough to make the whole pond dirty, imagine what would happens when they were in plenty. The things may have gone well if these gurus had tried to hone their skill as teachers. But the sad story of our gurus is that the day they are appointed as teachers, they put their books in the box - the box that rarely reopens.
Not to talk of honing their skills, these non-deserving entrants started showing their true colours in their doings. Not to talk of improvement, they started to show their colour in their doings which tarnished not their own image but also the image of those teachers also who have been really doing tremendous job in the field of education because if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas. There are plenty of instances that have cast a slur on this noble profession. The incidents of merciless thrashing of students, use of foul expletives while dealing with them, use of intoxicants before students, assurance of help in examination hall, and even sexual harassment of girls are no more uncommon in the education circle. Under such circumstances, the erosion of teacher’s status and stature is inevitable.
          Amidst this erosion of values, more worrisome is the pass-the-buck game going on in education arena. Teachers, parents, decision makers and people at helm of affairs, instead of shouldering the responsibility of halting the debacle of the system, are busy in the pass-the-buck game. In this whole noise, the sufferers are the innocent students because in the fight of two big elephants, the only sufferer is the green grass.
          To be great, any nation needs good education and for good education are needed great teachers. Doctors, professors, actors, leaders, stattesmen, ministers, presidents, social workers,  business persons - whoever they are, however great they are, teacher has an indelible influence, though invisible, in their making. In fact, schools, colleges and universities are the pictures of fate and future of the nation in miniature. Whereas parents do the work of nurturing and culturing of their children, teachers do the work of sculpting them into an ideal and better human beings.
          No doubt the profession of a teacher has become thorny. Though the respect of teachers has become a lost tradition, I firmly believe that society still adores good teachers and students respect them. Famous thinker Aristotle says: "Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them." A good teacher can change a lot of things, because the education he imparts remains with his students through his life. A student do remember good teachers, but he also does not forget bad teachers either.
So, teachers can be Chanakya of their students. They are the third parents. I call on them to put in their passion and soul into the profession of teaching as John F Keneddy said: "A child miseducated is the child lost." Remember - if a lesson fails, the teacher still gets paid. The kids get nothing at all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Changing the Biometry of Education

AS the teachers are still whining and feeling the pinch of biometric attendance and the simmer of discomfiture and resentment has yet not subsided, the state government has decided to hammer another nail to screw tight and face lift the dwindling education system by formation of Inspection Cadre Cell and that too with an army of 94 people. Perhaps, slowly and slowly it is percolating down to the understanding of the government and the officers at higher echelons that the major reason for the horrible results and debacle of SSA and RMSA have been the absence of effective monitoring. Issuing notifications and scribbling down rules on papers have so far been the modus operandi of those at the helm of these projects, But it needs to be recognised that paper-boats can only entertain and give joy to a child for some time, but one cannot have a voyage in it. This time, it seems, that the big bosses are serious to facelift the dilapidated system because to take lesson from the mistakes is the strength of a wise person and to repeat the same mistake is the love of fools. 
The Inspection Cadre seems to have relevance because the officers at the directorate level hardly have the time to visit the schools and have an idea of the academic on goings and goings on in the schools. So because the Education Department is that vast and varied. Whatever scanty visits are made is the outcome of the complaints made to the department. Teacher, politician, bureaucrats – everyone seems to be worried about the education and wants to improve, but this only remains a wishful thinking and things do not go beyond the inked paper orders and should and would be advices. Through the whole session, no pains is taken to see if the academics are going the ideal way in the school. To wake up after a long slumber of whole year and then look for the 100% results is not only unjust but also logically out of place. To brandish the sword of transfer and increment loss are no solution, these are, in fact, short-cut formula that will lead to bigger problems. By transferring the teacher, you only transfer the problem. The 100% result bar will only move the state on to make it another Bihar. To rob Peter to pay the debt of Harry is no wisdom at all.
To improve present system of education is not an easy call, yet the formation of inspection showcases the genuine concern of the state government. Whether it will be able to realize the objectives for which it has been formed cannot be ascertained because the RMSA and SSA were also started with great zeal and zest, but what came out is known to all and sundry. The new Inspection Cadre Cell will consist of those people who are on the verge of promotion and many of them will have a withering zeal. Amidst such circumstances, it cannot be predicted as to how long, how well and whereto the same old stewards will lead this new train. Whether they would be able to re-rail the badly derailed system is open for speculations and we can hope only.
 Biometric attendance and Inspection cadre – the two steps of the express that the officers and the government believes that the teachers are not sincere to discharge their duties in the school. But can the whole teaching community be groups only this column? Certainly not for we still have teachers who have made the education department proud. If at all, the people at helm of affairs have this fixed stance regarding teachers, it is worthwhile to see whether the newly formed cell will ever pinpoint and track these shirkers and truants. If it fails, its accountability and responsibility be also fixed as, after all, the cell that has 94 people it should serve some purpose. And dear inspectors and enquiry officers, make the enquiry reports carefully because the teachers are not that weak and birdbrains as you might have estimated them to be. The cell may get choked up with the files of enquiry reports and court cases.
No doubt, the Inspection cell is a cog in the wheel, but just a cog because the education system needs much more to be done. The policy of all passes up to 8th standard has been a big headache for teachers and the educationists. Though many states has openly criticised the no detention policy time and again, but the MHRD ministers have not been doing anything significant regarding this. They have come, criticised this policy, but have done nothing except throwing the juicy words to the people. How long will the teachers have to work like babus and when will they get rid of paperwork? Will they ever get rid of the census, elections and many other nonteaching activities and will they ever be able to divert their whole attention to     teaching? What about the posts that lying vacant for long period in schools?
Though the education is clogged with many drawbacks and problems, yet the Inspection Cadre is a positive step. However, the stewards of the system need to be careful because it is difficult to digest the first peg of wine. Remember the words of some wise person: “it is better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent.”