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Hopeless Indian teacher

The British systematically destroyed the ancient Indian system of education because it was self-sustained and quality intensive. The local community planned and maintained the system. It was possible to micro-manage it. The British could not conquer the Indian mind without destroying the Indian systems

Hopeless Indian teacher
The media is abuzz with news from Uttar Pradesh promising brighter days. Hopefully, 'acche din' (good times) for education will also come. But what would that mean? We need to discuss and analyse the education scenario upfront because that should be on top of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's agenda. While this discussion is in the context of UP here, one can extend the ideas discussed here to the rest of India.

Agenda One: Teachers must be well-paid. When I plead for teachers' salary, I am not demanding a sum equivalent to a 'constable' or a 'government peon'. I am just asking for a minimum decent salary. Those in power can themselves decide what should be the salary of a person who has a family and requires to pay school fees. If a teacher does not get a minimum amount to provide a decent life to his/her children, then he/she will definitely work extra hours, providing private coaching to make their ends meet. A minimum salary must be entitled to all teachers.

Agenda Two: Societies survive and thrive on a created image. Individuals and communities derive their power and prestige through economic power (wealth), social power, and the moral power. Teachers were seen as the custodian of moral power in ancient times. Guru Dronacharya was not a king but most revered because he was the 'guru' and kings lent their ears to him.

Our governments don't even consult university professors on academic issues. The draft Education Policy committee headed by TSR Subramanian is a case in point. Educational systems survive on this moral strength, not on economic power. It is such a large sector that we cannot pay the highest salary to the teaching community. Globally, in the best of institutions, more than 80 per cent of the budget goes for teachers' salary. But they are meant for the elite and the chosen few. Especially for large and populous countries like India, we cannot give the highest salary to the teachers, because the number would be unimaginably high and the burden on the exchequer unbearable. This will mean charging the beneficiaries dearly. We need to invoke the power of 'moral payment' to the teachers'.

The British systematically destroyed the ancient Indian system of education because it was self-sustained and quality intensive. The local community planned and maintained the system. It was possible to micro-manage it. The British could not conquer the Indian mind without destroying the Indian system of 'man making' education. They successfully converted our system into a degree generating system. The aura of the Indian guruji withered. This was necessary to establish the British idea of all-powerful Indian babu.

Why in all these years of Independent India have we not gone back to celebrating the teacher through events like Guru Purnima? Let us start celebrating the teacher. Every newspaper, every news channel, every government official is always on the lookout for an occasion to denigrate the teacher and the teaching community. Let us celebrate every good teacher and the act of the teachers. He/she will, under social pressure, become the idol of sacrifice and the custodian of morality. It was so encouraging to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi remember his teacher on Teacher's Day. Let us entrust teachers with the responsibility for the moral health of the society, and we will require no campaigns to clean our roads and parks, take care of the old or the less privileged.

Agenda Three: Our teacher education program is in bad shape. We have not taken concrete steps to rescue it. We must be one of the few countries where we hear of 'non-attending B.Ed' student. This means a trainee who was exempted from attending classes by paying the extra fee. Our teacher training cannot be a replica of the Western model. We need teachers with high moral quotient. In 2015 the Ministry of Human Resources Development had set up an NCTE Review Committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Md. Akhtar Siddiqui. The report was submitted in April 2016. We need to implement some, if not all the recommendations. Most of our problems will be solved if teacher education is revamped.

We have a vast army of teachers, and they can be the builders or destroyers of our society. We have long ignored their potential in giving our society a turnaround. On April 3, 2017, Krishna Gopal, the Joint General Secretary of the RSS in his 4th Shanti Sharma Memorial Lecture discarded the effort to monitor teachers by asking them to mark their attendance. Let us use this army in the process of nation building, and it won't cost us a dime.

Agenda Four: Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya has very pertinently mentioned in his four seminal lectures on Ekatma Manavwaad (Integral Humanism) delivered in Mumbai during April 22-25, 1965 that we plant trees and nurture them without asking for payment but when they grow they feed us with their fruits. We don't ask plants to pay us during their growth. Similarly, if we expect our children to grow and serve the society and the nation why charge them for their education? They must be provided education free of cost only then we can expect them to serve the country in return when their turn comes. Schools first then the institutions of higher learning need to be strictly monitored for charging exorbitant fees and donations.

All schools must charge comparable fees. Some of the schools charge around Rs 50,000 per month per child. Who can afford and why should we permit such elitist system to exist which will obviously allure all to reach this figure through whatever means to put their children in these school. Gujarat has already passed the Gujarat Self Financed Schools (Regulation of Fees) Bill – 2017, to check exploitation of learners. Other states need to follow.

The government order to admit 25 per cent of the total class strength of children from the economically weaker sections is followed by only some of the schools. The children from the EWS are dumped in one class and taught by someone who often does not possess the minimum qualification of a teacher. The objective of social justice goes for a toss. We must ensure that all children sit together and study together. Why are they not mixing? The reason is obvious. The children of the most influential people study in these schools, and they don't want the EWS children to sit with their children. We keep praising the Finnish model of education but why can we not implement the Finnish system that all children from a particular area will go the local school and not outside. This will mean children from the President House whether the President's family or the employees' family will all study in the same classrooms and mix. This is actually in practice in Finland.

We have completely demoralised the teaching community and demolished public funded schools. This was exactly the British agenda of education in India. We have given way to international agencies and business houses, where teachers are paid more salary than the government-funded University Professors and the rich and the affluent send their children to these schools. I am not complaining. I am concerned because every citizen would like to do the same, but they don't have the option to earn such money. By not halting this process we are prodding more and more people to collect money from whatever means to get an expensive education for their children. If we cannot give the teachers, decent salary let them work hard and fulfil their dreams.
(Prof. Chandra Bhushan Sharma is Chairman, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), New Delhi. The views expressed The British systematically destroyed the ancient Indian system of education because it was self-sustained and quality intensive. The local community planned and maintained the system. It was possible to
micro-manage it. The British could not conquer the Indian mind without destroying the Indian systems
are strictly personal.)

Chandra Bhushan Sharma

Chandra Bhushan Sharma

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