A recent circular ordering 20 women teachers in a district in UP to be present at the venue of a mass wedding programme, to help the brides get ready, has garnered intense criticism from the education sector. Naugarh Block Education Officer Dhruv Prasad issued this circular in question, which asked the female teachers to be present at the venue by 9 am, reports The Scroll. The mass wedding ceremony is being held under the Mukhyamantri Samoohik Vivaah Yojana. Following the outrage, Siddharthnagar district’s Basic Education Officer Surya Kant Tripathi passed another order to cancel the previously issued circular. However, the question around this mistreatment of teachers still lingers in the air. How can women teachers be treated as part-time beauticians? How are teachers to command respect from students when the education system itself robs them of their dignity?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A mass wedding is being organised in UP’s Siddhaarthnagar district on 28th January, under the Mukhyamantri Samoohik Vivaah Yojana.
  • A circular was issued asking 20 female teachers to be present at the venue in the morning to help the brides get ready.
  • Are women teachers part-time beauticians? Is it part of their job profile, to help brides get ready for their wedding?
  • There is a reason why teaching is not a primary career choice in our country? And this incident tells us why.

How are teachers to command respect and obedience from students when the education system itself robs them of their dignity?

All of us wanted to be teachers while growing up. And why not, since educators at schools are our first brush with a profession, outside of our homes. On an average, children spend seven to eight hours daily, with their teachers, for six days a week. One can safely say that children do not spend such an amount of time interacting one on one with their parents. In the formative years, children develop a deep connection with teachers, admiring everything they say and do. They’ll write the way their teacher taught them or spell something the way their teacher does. Many parents run to their child’s teacher if they encounter any issue with them, for intervention. So your kid isn’t eating meals properly? Watches too much television? Doesn’t listen to their primary caregiver? Haven’t we seen parents seek the help of teachers regarding these issues and many more at PTMs, especially in pre-primary and primary classes?

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But as we grow up, the excitement around becoming a teacher fades away. Children are encouraged to become doctors or engineers if they want to have a bright future. Ever wonder why? Why do we never tell students to pursue a career as a school teacher? Why teaching as a career choice remains a last-resort in our country? The answers to these questions tell us how badly we treat those who sculpt the future the country.

This isn’t just about the pay-check, which is a big factor in establishing the worth of any career, but also the resultant apathy and exploitation. Teachers do not have sympathy from parents, or from the system of which they are a part. This naturally affects their self-worth and confidence as educators. India Today quoted the findings from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report in an article last year, which found that teachers are imposed to greater job-related stress in comparison to other professionals. One in five teachers admitted to feeling tense about their job most or all of the time. To give you some perspective, the number stood at 13 percent for similar professionals. Is it a wonder then, that while we all grow up wanting to be teachers, only a handful do become one, that to purely because of circumstances and not by choice.

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Is having the skills to ready a bride for her wedding a part of a school teacher’s job profile? No. And yet, these women teachers were subjected to this deeply demeaning and sexist circular. There is nothing wrong with the task they were offered to do. It may be a privilege for many to help out as a mass wedding ceremony, as long as they are doing it willingly and not ordered to do so. It is the compulsion of the chore which is not a part of their duty, that makes it demeaning. Unless we treat our teachers with the respect that every profession deserves, the Indian education system will never succeed in getting rid of the rot that currently corrodes it. Every student and educator should feel proud of being a part of this system, and now it is up to us as a society, to think about what can be done to make things better.

Image Credit: Alamy

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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