What Teachers Think They Deserve This World Teachers Day?

by Rayees Masroor

The height of things is that police has carried out lathi-charge on teachers on many occasions and even beaten few and put them behind the bars. Such an attitude towards the teachers has not only made the job a butt of jokes but utterly discouraged the teachers.

Police using water to disperse the protesting teachers in Srinagar on July 17, 2018. KL image by Bilal Bhadur

International Teacher’s Day is celebrated on October 5. In India, it coincides with the birth anniversary of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He was a renowned scholar, Bharat Ratna, first Vice- President and second President of Independent India. He was born on September 5, 1888. As an educationist, he was an advocate of edification and a distinguished academician, and above all a great teacher. Actually, Dr S Radhakrishnan was a friendly teacher and he was very popular among his students for the example he always set in front of them. So, one day his students requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday. In return, he said that it would be an honour if they celebrate his birthday in respect of all teachers. And since then this day September 5, is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India.

This day provides an opportunity for the students in particular and the people, in general, to honour their teachers and highlight their role in shaping the future of the nation. There is absolutely no doubt that teachers have been the architects of the society and without them, no society can walk in the path of progression. Dr Radhakrishan In his book, Political Thinkers of Modern India signified the importance of teachers and education in a country like India, which is still in its early phases of development.

The role of teachers in nation-building and awakening the youth and educating them to shape their future is an acknowledged reality. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. A teacher serves society by instructing and guiding countless students through the different stages of their growth. A teacher plays different roles in a student’s life. The teacher is a philosopher enlightening their students about the ways of the world.

Apart from their mothers, children spend maximum time with their teachers. A teacher not only imparts knowledge to their students but also guide and prepare students for the whole life. They are the real icon of knowledge, wisdom, create awareness and make the people literate. They illuminate students life with the bright light of knowledge and wisdom. Albert Einstien once said it is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”.

In 2020, World Teachers’ Day is being celebrated with the theme Teachers: Leading in crisis reimagining the future. The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.

SSA teachers protest in Srinagar, KL photo by Bilal Bahadur

The outbreak of Coronavirus has significantly added to the challenges faced by already over-extended education systems throughout the world. It is no exaggeration to say that the world is at a crossroads and, now more than ever, its time to work with teachers to protect the right to education and guide it into the unfolding landscape brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The issue of teacher leadership in relation to crisis responses is not just timely but critical in terms of the contributions teachers have made to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools, and ensure that learning gaps have been mitigated. The discussions surrounding Teachers Day will also address the role of teachers in building resilience and shaping the future of education and the teaching profession.

Unfortunately in India and especially in Jammu and Kashmir the role of teachers has never been acknowledged and appreciated to the extent teachers deserved. Many times It has been observed that teachers have been subjected to untold miseries, sometimes beaten for their genuine demands and sometimes left without salaries for months together. The harsh reality is that teaching has never been able to gain the prestige and the honour it deserved.

No doubt on September 5, or October 5, the teacher would be offered gifts, cards and messages by their students. There would be ceremonies and programmes organized for teachers and the government would award certain exceptions and brilliant teachers but you can’t ignore the treatment met to the teachers on the rest 364 days.

Teaching and teachers have never been a priority to the governments and the policymakers, there are considerable loopholes in the recruitment process which has made the job extremely unattractive. Ideally, the recruitment process for teachers should have been no different to doctors or engineers which would have not only roped in the great talent but it would have added prestige to the job but it’s not to be. The height of things is that police has carried out lathi-charge on teachers on many occasions and even beaten few and put them behind the bars. Such an attitude towards the teachers has not only made the job a butt of jokes but utterly discouraged the teachers.

Rayees Masroor

Celebrating Teachers Day is much appreciated but it would be ideal if the teachers are respected in true sense. There is a need to put a protocol in place for the teachers so that not only police respects them but also in government offices they are honoured and respected. Moreover, it’s high time that the government revisits the recruitment process and even provide a career advancement opportunity for the teachers through departmental examination and do away with the present system of seniority-based promotions. These steps would not only regain the lost glory of teachers but it would also reshape the present system of education. It is rightly said that the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.

(Author is a teacher and columnist. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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