On 15th August, 2014 Indian Prime Minister reminded the government employees of the meaning of the word service and called on them to serve the country in a way that trust and faith of the people in the institutions of government do not shatter. This was a call to everyone whether he or she is working for education, administration or in publically owned companies. In a series to this was the Prime Minister’s speech to school children on Teachers day which was broadcasted at thousands of schools across the country. The message conveyed through these two events was the eagerness of the government to make the system relevant to present needs of the society and market. Our educational institutions starting from schools to Universities have failed to produce quality professional as most of these institutions lack basic infrastructure and qualified teachers. To reap the benefits of our demographic dividend it is important that we address this issue on an urgent basis. I have been interacting with women self-help groups in Bhuvaneshwar for the last 2 weeks. Most of these SHG had taken the educational loan from Milaap to fund the tuition and coaching fees of their children. These women want that their children get the best education possible which will help the children to get necessary skill and finally a good job. These women are sending their children to daily private tuition classes in addition to the normal schooling. Even a little girl studying in UKG is tutored at home by a private tutor. All this has to happen because there is no quality education being imparted in schools as most of the schools doesn’t have teachers, teachers remain absent and teachers are not qualified enough. The result is booming business for private tutors and coaching centers and an extra incentive for regular teachers to open their private tuition centers instead of concentrating on teaching in schools. In government schools in rural areas, absenteeism is a huge problem. There have been several reports from many parts of the country of teachers outsourcing their jobs to proxies and splitting the salary.There is hardly any way left for the students to assimilate the information, ponder over what they have been taught and refine their knowledge. Too much information is being pushed into a brain which it fails to interpret and integrate. PISA (Project for international assessment) test indicate that Indian students are one of the weakest in integrating and interpreting. Indian students score 348 and 375 in math against the OECD countries average score of 496. Besides this the troubled state education system is putting high burden on the finances of the parents who have to pay for the private tuitions besides regular school fee. According to HRD Ministry, India currently faces a shortage of 12 lakh qualified teachers. This situation is despite the fact that after the 6th pay commission teachers’ salary to the national per capita income has rose to 5:1 ratio. The need of the hour is bring dignity back to the job. ‘Tech for India’ has shown that it is very much possible to attract highly talented college graduates to teach in low income schools. It is high time that a professional environment in educational institutions is created; recognition and career progression path for teachers is formulated. Political parties need to stop playing politics over the appointment of teachers especially at the state level and people need to stop seeing the teaching job as most comfortable to manage a house and career and also get lots of vacations. In the end I feel it is worthwhile to conclude the write up with words of Lee Iacocca, the legendary former CEO of Chrysler, an American automobile company, who had said, "In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone could have."
Restoring faith in Teachers and Teaching Profession