What about teaching as a career?

Good teachers are key to change


sudhir aggarwal | February 22, 2010

For the past few months, education minister Kapil Sibal has kept the nation enthralled with a slew of proposals to reform the education sector. Some are aimed at doing away with multiplicity of courses and entrance exams (core curriculum, single entrance test); some others with taking away pressure on children (raising age of admission to pre-school to 4 years, grading system for class X) and yet some others to end government interference (‘private schools are free to fix fees for students and salary to teachers’). Then there is the Right to Education Act which seeks to ensure every child goes to school. Some of these have provoked heated debate and some others have just been accepted as desirable steps long overdue.
But in this entire narrative, the biggest challenge facing the education sector has been completely forgotten: how to make teaching an attractive proposition for talented young men and women.
Over the years, the profession has lost its sheen. Bright young men and women are no more interested or attracted to teaching. Even though education has turned into a highly lucrative business with private institutions playing a big role, it is neither lucrative nor respectable to be a teacher.
Just see how the housewives are increasingly becoming teachers in the neighbourhood schools in their spare time. For them, it is an extra income and better utilization of free time, not a noble profession it always was in our country.
Good teachers don’t attract students to schools anymore.  Fancier the school greater is its demand. So you have air-conditioned classrooms and air-conditioned school buses being talked about in social circles. Parent-teacher meetings and school annual days have become social events to flaunt fashionable clothes and accessories.  In other words, schools have become status symbols, rather than a place where young minds are shaped and refined.
The situation can be reversed only when perception of the society is changed….when teaching acquires its old meaning and when teachers teach with passion that the ‘gurukul’ tradition so symbolized. Reforms in the education sector will remain incomplete and ineffective till right people are attracted to take up the job of teaching. Whatever be the amount of technology used in education, role of teachers cannot be undermined.




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