Teaching is what we refer to as a noble profession, it’s an institution that all great men and women have been a part of, in one way or the other over the generations. It’s an institution which has helped humanity achieve great things. But sadly, it’s an institution which is degrading at its very core. Being a teacher in today’s time is very different.

There has been an active shift away from teaching towards more lucrative and higher paying professions like engineering. To get to the bottom of this, I sat down with a fresh B.Ed graduated from DU who, after 2 months of rigorous job hunting, finally landed a job but lo and behold didn’t find what she expected. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

This person (who shall remain unnamed) talked about a lot of things from the general condition of schools and their administration to how teachers are mistreated in interviews and in jobs to how they are overworked and underpaid and how being a teacher today is a tough job.

On finding a job as a teacher

Being a teacher today comes with its own set of challenges, primary among them is finding a job. Even though we need quality educators today, there is a lack of good teaching jobs in the country. Getting interviews is easy, but getting past them is difficult because of the classic problem- for a job you need experience and for the experience you need a job. Finding a job in this sector is an arduous task and if you look at the condition of ad-hoc teachers in DU, even if you get a job, it’s not all fun and games.

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On The Condition of Schools

She told me how because of the advent of private schools, a lot of ill planned schools have come up. Schools that lack proper infrastructure, appropriate facilities and so on. She gave me an example of a chemistry lab which had space for 20 people but was forced to fit 40. It lacked a lab assistant, proper ventilation, and proper waste disposal systems. This is very, very dangerous for a chemistry lab which deals with corrosive, dangerous chemicals, whose fumes can prove to be extremely injurious.

She also talked about that the licensing process of schools is so lax that almost anyone can open up a school now and place their own relatives in the management, creating a crony system that is really bad for the students’ education since their main motive is to try and make money!

On the treatment of teachers

Teachers are treated in a very unfair manner, from the management to the students. They are also overworked and underpaid according to her. She pointed out a few incidents during her interviews that startled her. She was treated by the interviewer in a very unprofessional and discourteous manner and in one case even disrespected. She also talked about how students, especially in classes 11 and 12, are extremely disrespectful towards the teachers. She was concerned about the fact that these students take private tuitions and spoil the atmosphere of the class as they are aware of the material and have nothing better to do.

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She has also seen students disrespecting the teachers out of pure spite and then being smug about it.

On Being overworked and underpaid

Besides teaching, teachers have a lot of other responsibilities. They are often bogged down by paperwork and are supposed to train the students in various co-curricular activities. For all this work, in most cases, they are underpaid and many a time paid in a shady manner. My contact told me about how teachers are officially paid a cheque of Rs. 50,000 and then asked to return Rs. 25,000 in cash. She also talked about how in an interview she was told she’d be paid Rs. 25,000 and when she received her salary, it was of Rs. 20,000. After having to “negotiate” with the authorities, she got a cheque for Rs. 22,000.

All these factors have created a negative perception in the minds of prospective job seekers against pursuing teaching. Further, these issues attack and undermine the credibility of our very education system which is already in peril. The increased privatisation and the responsibility that accompanies it endangers the education of all the kids that study there and jeopardises their collective futures by imparting a  sub par education.

There needs to be a collective awakening amongst us. We need to realise that if we continue like this, we’ll lose out the already few people like my contact who actually like teaching and not have a crop of educators to educate the next generation. We need to make teaching a lucrative profession, something that will attract the brightest mind. We need to make them feel welcome and accepted and not misused as they feel right now.

We need a more stringent mechanism to check the quality of the education that these schools impart. I realise that it won’t be easy, but change never is. And seeing the condition right now, we definitely do need the change.

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