Teachers without responsibilities? A review

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The state government on Wednesday relieved all the government school teachers deputed with different schemes. The directions in this regard were passed by Governor N N Vohra. An order  order was passed by the Secretary, School education, following the Governor’s instructions. We welcome this step. The authorities in the state have finally woken up and taken a welcome step- a step that will have a bearing on the nature of a domain-education-that not only affects us in the now but also our future generations. Teaching is a noble profession to which the best and the brightest or even idealist members of society must be drawn to.

But alas, in Kashmir, by and large, teaching is seen as a “choice of last resort”. That is, when other choices or options fail , it is only then that people chose teaching as a profession. We argue that teaching must be seen as a vocation or a calling; not mere profession.  Teachers, once they are appointed in Kashmir see their jobs as “sinecures” , that is, a job, that requires little work but still provides a salary. Many view teaching as a rite of passage that is to be done away with for passing the day. More insidiously, some indulge in petty politicking and union baazi where they, from a weird sense of entitlement, make the bizarrest of demands, sometimes amounting to blackmail, from the Government. All this is at the expense of students- young buds who need the best of attention in terms of education.

We understand that there are problems within and without in the teaching profession. Low pay, poor working conditions, and other dismal indicators militate against the seamless imparting of education and impact the life quality and living standards of teachers. But the prevalence of these widespread and systemic problems should not give  a license to teachers to indulge in dark and ungainly practices. There’s no room for entitlement driven goondaism in this noble profession. If there are issues, they can and must be negotiated away with the government and if the government turns recalcitrant and truculent then there are other ways(efficient and civilized) to register protest and then negotiate. This is not to indict and paint the entire teaching community with the same brush. Yes, there are nice and well meaning people out there but the “unsavory” amongst them hog the headlines.

Now the question is how to resolve genuine issues?

The Government and the teaching community must talk to but not talk at each other. In the final analysis, it is only negotiations in which quid pro quos are involved that determine the resolution of issues. The teaching community must understand the government’s compulsions and the government must understand the teaching community’s concerns and issues and then arrive at a modus vivendi to resolve these.

Teachers build nations, societies and communities. This is a noble role defined by great responsibility. A cavalier, lackadaisical attitude affects generations. The teaching community must realize the seriousness and import of their role and do justice to it. At the same time, the Government must not shy away from its responsibilities.

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