There is a huge requirement for trained teachers in subjects such as science, mathematics and English at the primary level. In rural areas where I have served all these years, students walk or cycle for hours to reach their schools. Compared to children in cities, they are much more sincere. So, the government should reciprocate by providing special teachers for English and mathematics.
As told to Ratnadip Choudhury
Devinder Singh | 45
KharchiVillage, Pali District, Rajasthan
Teacher, Government Primary School Getting repairs done and changing things at the school has always been an uphill task. Our classrooms have no doors or windows and there is no functioning toilet in the premises. But the most urgent repair work was needed for the building’s foundation. The pillars were crumbling. We have got that repaired. The school has seen six major thefts since 2005. There was a solar plant installed to provide electricity. This was stolen in 2007. We complained to the police and they even found the plant. But because there was something missing in our paperwork, the plant is still lying at the station. Ceiling fans have been installed at least 3-4 times since I have been here and but the local villagers keep stealing them.
As told to Revati Laul
C Susheela Chengappa | 57
Social science teacher, SriKaveriSchool, Indiranagar
Sometimes it becomes difficult to control the students. Some teachers don’t know how to deal with it and make the students sit on the ground or send them out of the class. They should not do this as the students find it insulting. It’s better to make a recalcitrant child sit on the front bench. The government’s new policy of promoting students even if he/she scores a zero is problematic. What’s the point of promoting a child to Class II if he/she is unable to cope with the Class I syllabus? Though no parent would like to see his/her child repeating the same class, we also need to think of the child.
As told to Imran Khan
Aarti Sharma*| 31
Teacher, Government Primary School
We have 93 students with four teachers and two shiksha mitras to teach them. We have all basic facilities, including lights, fans, toilets, classrooms, staffroom, etc, but it requires more than mere infrastructure to teach these children. Irregular attendance or dropouts are a major problem. During the harvest season, these kids earn up to 60- 70 for a day’s work in the fields, so the parents are happy to pull them out. Access is also a deterrent. Our school is 2 km from the village, but the junior school for Class VI-VIII is 4 km away. We go door-to-door to convince parents to send their children to school, but we need more teachers to provide quality education. Knowing the realities, I don’t want to send my kids to government schools. I don’t want my son to come under the wrong influence. Our school has only sc and obc students who carry their own plates for lunch. If an obc student forgets his plate, he will ensure that he shares another obc child’s plate only.
As told to Shonali Ghosal (*Name changed on request)
I have been a primary school teacher for the past 26 years, of which I have spent 10 years teaching in a private school. Though our salaries have been revised as per the Sixth Pay Commission, thanks to inflation, the hike seems to make little difference. Dealing with children is always a sensitive issue, one that depends entirely on how a teacher sees it. In my case, I have to travel a long distance to reach my school. When I take leave, there is no one to replace me. There have been times when I have been on leave for 10 days straight and no one has replaced me. The replacements come in only when we are sent on long deputations. And we have many of those — election duties, polio vaccination, population census, etc.
Personally, I feel that our children are not capable of coping with the syllabus prescribed by the ncert or the state board. In Urdu-medium schools, we usually have 30-35 children per class, and almost all of them are from poor families. Having taught in a private school, I feel those students are better equipped to deal with the course as opposed to students in government schools. We are against rote learning because that strains a child. We emphasise on practical education. Often, retaining the interest of the child in a subject proves difficult. More so when they are malnourished or have parents who are addicted to alcohol or involved in illegal activities. As a result, they don’t come to school regularly and cannot keep pace with the rest of the students.
As told to Imran Khan
KP Singh | 55
Teacher, Government School, Jafrabad
I have seen that kids from low-income families have difficulty in learning. These kids are inhibited about where they come from and feel lost. Kids in my school have always complained about the lack of clean toilets, fans and lights in the classroom. And even though we have taken the matter to the administration, nothing has been done. All government schools have a budget for buying equipment required to conduct practical sessions, but they don’t do so. When we are burdened with other work like election duties, paper correction, etc, it is the children who suffer most. If we miss four days of work, it takes 15 days to catch up. And, when a teacher is replaced, the rhythm of learning is disrupted. I believe that if teachers in government schools get better support, they can function just as well as private schools.
As told to Nupur Sonar
Azharuddin, 25, New Delhi, Teacher, Urdu-mediumSchool, Old Seemapuri
In college, we were trained to work in an ideal environment. We were trained to never hit children. But when I started teaching, it was a different ball game altogether. The ideal teacher-student ratio is considered to be 1:35. However, at our school we have about 70-80 students in one class. Imagine that in the summer heat! With so many children stuffed together in one tiny classroom, it becomes impossible to handle them. All that we spend hours planning goes for a toss. I can’t even check homework. It is frustrating to work in such an environment.
We have 1,700 students in our school, 20 classrooms and 21 teachers. There is a shortage of 35 teachers. With new students pouring in almost every other week, there is immense pressure on us. It is impossible to control these kids. I hate to admit it, but I have often resorted to violence. I have hit students in my class. I don’t hit them too hard, just enough to shut them up when things go completely out of hand. As much as I try not to, sometimes I end up losing my temper. If the government has set certain norms for teachers, they should also ensure that we teachers are provided with working conditions in which these norms can be effectively implemented.
Sometimes, when we go soft on kids, parents come to us and tell us, “Maaro peeto, kuch bhi karo, lekin bache ko padhao (Hit them, do anything, but make sure you teach them).” Somewhere I think, even parents need to monitor kids and work with the teachers to ensure that the child studies. We spend five hours a day with the student, but at the end of the day, a child spends much more time outside the school premises.
As told to Nupur Sonar