Yet Another ‘Day’
Yet another day passed without much significance. It was September 5, the Teachers’ Day. The lukewarm response of the media reflected growing irrelevance of the issue. The country’s academic calendar has included the day since 1962 honouring the birthday of the noted academician and Ex-President of India, Dr Radhakrishnan as also recognising the services rendered by the country’s teaching community. Some teachers allegedly close to the ruling elite are conferred every year with the title of National Teacher Award as a routine. Most educational institutes and the student community do not find much interest in observing the day.
It was a day when teachers were most respectfully recalled as builders of the nation. They were the torchbearer of the education. There is hardly a country, other than India, which offered their teachers so much of respect. This was as part of the Gurukul tradition of the country of feudal character. The feudal values have been represented by the Gurus. With the corruption eating out those values as a whole, the teaching community could not remain unaffected with the change. It is no more a noble profession and it is now for making money and money. In a market economy, it is called a services sector. So the worse sides of the profession as exposed under the market system have to have a damaging consequence for the society. Most of the persons in the teaching profession remain feudal at heart and grossly backward in deeds. Even after fifty years of independence education system could not be matched to the urgent need of the time. Some call it a purposeless education which lack job and value orientation right from the beginning. Some say the education which cannot make a student more a social being responsive to the cries of the mankind is meaningless. And the teachers are the products of the same system and all the ills of a more complex society are to be carried by them like others. Where the money is the sole determining factor, the love and affection between the teacher and student cannot last long. Sometime the Mentors turn into Tormentors. Numerous incidents of harassment of the student are frequently reported due to alleged refusal to private tution from the concerned teacher. Education is no more a fun today, it’s really a prison for the students. The teaching community is to be held largely responsible for this and also the government policy by which the teachers are governed. The poor students are sandwiched in between all the time.
Gone are the days when a teacher had a wait for months to draw his salary. Situation has undoubtedly changed a lot, particularly in West Bengal, after left front govt. took over charges in late 70s. Situation has undergone a radical change in other states too. But there is still state like Bihar where primary teachers have recently resorted to withdrawal of work due to non receipt of their salary for months.
This is in spite of the fact that almost 80,000 school masters in West Bengal have not received any retirement benefit including pension as yet, it cannot be termed that the teachers in general are the depriving lot in comparison to their earlier
worse sufferings during the Congress regime. But still there is no room for complacency taking into consideration the report of committing suicide by some school teachers due to non-receipt of their retirement benefits. Thanks to the notorious trade union organisation of the Govt. employees backed by the State Co-ordination committee of West Bengal. Almost all in-service benefits as extended to the Govt. employees are being extended to the West Bengal teachers of school and colleges. In some cases, pay package is far better than those of the department employees. The society did not object to it. But left ruled state Govt. ultimately decided not to effectively ban any private tution by the teachers attached to the Govt. or recognised educational institutions for fear of erosion of its support base.
Teachers are known to bunk classes regularly. They show their sincerity in private coaching centers, not in the classrooms. So their income increases manifold taking into account their earnings from tution. Many a teacher do not bother to receive pension, as lump sum earning from regular tuition pay them dividend in their superannuated life. Of course, exception is there. Teachers of high morale and integrity not only set example in the teaching profession but in the society as well.
On evaluation of the quality of teaching where teachers are the main driving force, a strong section of the intelligentsia suggests in line with Rastogi Commission that performance of the teachers should be evaluated by the students based on parameters like regularity, motivation, innovation and overall competence. Opposition to this suggestion by the teachers is obvious. They say the students are incompetent to evaluate their merits.
In the last fifly years, education has suffered a callous neglect. So many recommendations contained in the reports of various education commissions set up by the centre like Radhakrishnan Commission, Khotari Commission, Rastogi Commission etc. have been persistently ignored. National Policy on Education revised as on 1992 has repeated various pledges for free and compulsory education of satisfactory quality to all children up to 14 years of age before the onset of 21st Century. But the promises are yet to be comprehended.
Lack of interest on the part of the elected representatives and executives has made the education a low priority area. This is evident from the reduced provision in the country’s education budget in all fifth five year plans except 1st five year plan. There was a provision of 7.22% of the total plan outlay for education under 1st five year plan whcih reduced to mere 3.3% in 5th plan and down slightly to 3.9% in 7th plan. But the provision has unscruplously gone down further to less than 3% in both 8th and 9th five year plans of the Centre, while defence budget has shot up to14% of the GDP. As a result, half of the country remains in the darkness of illiteracy. Education budget has been slashed mainly to promote the private sector investment with a view to monopolise the education for an affluent class of people only. Poor will have no place in this arena and they will remain a mere watcher only. Damaging effect of the economic globalization will push them further from bad to worse.