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“Only those who want an easy life opt for government school teaching”
This thought would have crossed all our minds at some point – it certainly occurred to me. During the past one year, working in collaboration with the Education Department, Government of Haryana that I realized I was thoroughly wrong.
Being a teacher in a government school isn’t for the faint hearted. At the beginning, I had my own assumptions and experiences of how the public school systems function. We have often read and held opinions ourselves on the teaching quality in this system. But the problem and its solution isn’t easy. We have visited over 40 schools across Haryana located mostly in backward blocks of villages. The roads to most of these schools haven’t been constructed yet. The infrastructure greatly varies from school to school. Some don’t have enough classrooms while in others there are not enough teachers. We are facing a severe shortage of 1 million teachers which has resulted in high pupil-teacher ratio. In addition, most of the students struggle to solve a lower grade Math problem or read in English. But in spite of these odds, I have been witness to these teachers working day after day teaching and helping students to move forward step by step.
We conducted workshops to train teachers on Avanti’s pedagogy. At the end of each workshop, we as trainers had learned far greater than what we imparted. These remarkable teachers were working hard to strengthen their classes-from getting admissions, mentoring and counseling parents to overcoming all the challenges to teach effectively. A lot of teachers had taught themselves how to use projectors, creating slides to present topics and using activities for explaining concepts. Each one of them had a story to share, each one was committed to educating their students at par with the best schools. Below are few excerpts shared by teachers:
“When a struggling student in class solved typical question that wasn’t solved by the bright students”
“When a child from remote village can’t read English came to me and said I can’t understand English. Later on I gave him special classes along with my physics in Polytechnic. After three years he called me to tell me he got admission in NIT engineering college”
“When I was teaching in my village as a guest faculty, I asked one student of class 10th – “What do you want to be in future?” She said, “ I want to be like you a teacher as everyone in my village always talks about you and praises you”
“During the session, 2011-12 and 2012-13 taught six-seven very poor background students belonging to illiterate families. With my guidance and without extra coaching, they all got selected for best B.Tech courses. That time the expression of their parents really made me happy”
The mentor trainers of our project, all of whom had more teaching experience than us put together, began school visits to help in setting up and running classes last month. Their enthusiasm and rigor have often left us in awe. As shared by one of our mentor trainers, “our teachers are like pilots who are in control of flying, what they need is the full support of a crew to help in performing their job. We, as trainers and mentors, should build an effective team that enables our teacher to perform their best.”
While there is a lot to change and think how this support needs to be improved through facilities, reforms, policies, we would just like to make a note: if education is a public good, then teachers are our unsung heroes. They serve the interest of every community, village or state or country in the most significant and meaningful way. They have the power of teaching and they teach with effort, concern and individual initiative. Something that in the larger picture of education system we forget. We as an organization feel extremely grateful and fortunate to be collaborating with such a large pool of talented and motivated teachers.
We wish all the Teachers a very Happy Teacher’s Day!