What can be done to address the immediate requirement for lakhs of teachers acrossIndia?
When I was asked this question, I rattled off a host of things that could be done. Since the exchange was on twitter, constraint of word-space forced me to be barely touch upon various tactics to address the problem.
The interaction didn’t end there as it had started a thought process.
There are millions of unemployed graduates inIndiatoday. Why is it that they don’t want to consider Teaching as a profession? Government is constantly releasing statistics about need for teachers in government schools so no one can say that opportunities don’t exist. Then is it that these schools exist in areas that no one wants to work in? Why are such areas not favoured by people?
So why do most people not want to get into Teaching profession?
Some of the common reasons that influence choice of profession are:
1) It is valued in the society
2) It is paying
3) Other members of the community have achieved success in it
4) Fulfills family’s needs and aspirations
5) Provides perks and prestige
Teaching profession has fallen from grace from the time ofIndependence. In that era teachers were revered by students as well the society. Though teachers didn’t make much money, they were held in high esteem in their community. Family felt a sense of pride though they struggled with low income.
Today’s society largely runs after money. Professions which do not pay well are the last choice for most young people. Families are not accepting of a choice of professions which are not high paying as their needs and aspirations are very high. Closely connected world has made people aware of everything that is available in the world and they want it all. No longer does pride in profession suffice. In earlier times, small amounts of money went a long way as the community supported teachers’ family in various ways. Such consideration towards teachers is not seen today. People with high income, however it may be earned, are feted while those with less wealth are ignored or worse insulted.
So what can we do to make the teaching profession attractive for educated unemployed?
Firstly we need to start paying our teachers a salary which is more or less equivalent to salaries people in other profession draw. Bring accountability, reward good performance, penalize on bad performance but start paying well. Just like we have for armed services, we need to substantiate teachers’ salary with perks and facilities.
Secondly, the profession has to have an aspiration quality. This is far more difficult to pull off. It will need long term concerted effort if higher powers are serious about filling up empty posts in schools. Once it becomes ‘aspired for’ profession, society will start valuing teachers and then unemployed will choose to become one.
The question still remains – are we willing to tackle the issue honestly?