What ails teaching as a profession…

The other day I was reading an article in the newspaper which very soon appeared in rediff.com. (http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/nov/10ab.htm). I would like to candidly admit that I was rattled after reading the article.

The write-up was about the last days of a professor who taught in the ‘esteemed’ IIM Calcutta in the late 60’s. Prof. Ramu Iyer taught computer science at IIM Calcutta in 1969, at a time when the internet technology was in its nascent stages and computer as a revolution was on its ascent.

Teaching computer science in the late 60’s at the country’s leading institution shows the visionary Prof Iyer was. But it was his last days which the article talks about, days which were spent in distress.

Prof. Ramu was suffering from cancer and in the last days of his life he did not have money to support his treatment. This was the aspect that stirred me and this is the harsh reality that confronts India and Indians.

We had Gurukul system in the past in our country where teachers were revered and placed at a pedestal next to God. It was the teacher who introduced the student standing at the threshold of adolescence the ways of life. Apart from the gurukul system too, teachers have been respected over the years by students and the society.

Ironically, if you ask a teacher what he / she craves for in his life, the most imminent answer would be- the respect and gratitude of a student. But dealing with the more realistic aspects of life, aspects which many teachers like the ones Prof. Iyer faced during his last days, the question that arises is- What are the incentives that are offered to a teacher in this country?

This is the sad part of reality which gets lost in a host of issues which the nation faces. The issue of pay structure and incentives for teachers is something that worries me because in a way it is a reflection of the society’s treatment of its teaching fraternity. In other words, what the teachers are being given for their effort is not justified and is not enough.

This sort of a unjust treatment towards those in this profession (particularly in the Government schools and colleges) acts as a demotivating factor too. This forces many a people to take up jobs with private educational institutions.

As a result, esteemed Government institutions find it difficult to pay and retain worthy individuals as they face a stiff competition from private institutions. This leads to worthy, erudite and highly qualifies section of teachers move in search of greener pastures.

This is a point of concern which the Government needs to address. The yardstick to measure and decide the salary structures of different government heads and institutions should be different. As of now, a pay commission revision is all that comes for salary and incentive hikes and that too once in five years.

Even this hike does not match the industry standards and lacks in a big way. Once the Government understands this, a number of institutions will be ‘redeemed’.

Just think about the packages which students receive after passing out from IIM’s. Although it would be unfair to compare, a look at the salaries drawn by teachers who make these students to that of the students would reflect the grim reality!

It is understandable that teachers cannot receive the same salaries as that of the students but at least give them the due monetary credit based on the global and industry standards.

It is time that we realise that teachers cannot survive on mere respect and reverence, the time has come to give them their due credit as responsible citizens!

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