Indian teachers are gearing up for a virtual celebration to mark Teachers’ Day on September 5. More than anything, school teacher need a break to sit and do nothing for a couple of days, that too without having to worry about pay cuts, jobless. Or how to keep overactive students from muting them during virtual classes, highjacking the white board or leaving snarky comments during the class on messenger.
The past two years have been difficult for everyone. We continue to deal with a pandemic, the threat of job cuts and slashes in pay checks, alongside the unending burden of household chores. One of the headaches that most parents complain about is online education and its many flaws, and how inconvenient it is, especially for working parents who are now juggling work, chores, parenting and tutoring all at the same time. Your kid’s assignments and tests are now as important as your work assignment. And then clothes won’t wash themselves, food won’t automatically appear on your table. But if we move to the other side of this picture, we realise that it hasn’t been easier for teachers too.
I say this because I have seen teachers in my family struggle with the pandemic and the changes it brought into their profession, without any warning or prior preparation. As schools struggled to secure fee, which would eventually help them pay salaries of teachers, the educators themselves had to unlearn and re-learn the art of teaching to suit digital medium. I have heard numerous accounts from older teachers, not well versed with technology, who struggled to conduct online classes, take online submissions and create digital assignments.
Imagine being in your 40s, or close to retirement, or having EMIs dependent on your paycheck, and suddenly, your teaching skills are not enough to ensure employability. Imagine spending holidays and weekends fretting over new technology over which your students have a better command than you.
According to a report by Unified District Information System for Education, only one out of four teacher in our country is trained to use a computer for teaching. The share of teacher trained to teach with computer is higher in private schools. So many teachers have been pushed into the deep end of online education, armed with last-minute training and despite being almost a year and half into the pandemic, things are yet to settle down. Any parent who has sat with their ward for an online class or more will know that.
Now with schools reopening across India, despite the threat of COVID-19 third wave, teachers will have to continue with online education alongside conducting physical classes. One can’t even imagine the kind of burn out this could result in.
This Teachers’ Day we need to rethink how education system functions in our country and who bears the brunt of unforeseen changes. The wellbeing of teachers matters, which is why the education system needs to come up with ways could alleviate this dual burden off the shoulders of our teachers. Thinking of ways we could make their lives a little easier could perhaps be the best Teachers’ Day gift we can bestow on our educators.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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