Happy? Teacher’s Day – A petition to the new HRD Minister.

I was walking down the steps of the morning assembly stage of my school after collecting my annual report card from the hands of the Principal. It was customary to felicitate the top ranker in the class by awarding them their reports in the assembly in front of all the students of the school. As I moved to fall in line to watch other achievers collect their report cards, a Teacher walked up to me and said –

“This is for being in top 3 even after not attending the school for 3-4 months. You don’t look very happy but I am delighted for you. Keep this.”

She had an orange glitter pen in her hands. She was right. I wasn’t happy. I had moved 2 places to 3 from 1. I wasn’t ready to give any excuses to myself but my teacher was somehow elated that I didn’t need a Teacher for 3-4 months of long absence from my school.  I overcame my grief in that instant of accepting the gift from her.

Year passed. I found her on facebook some 2-3 years back and sent a friendship request. By the look of her timeline, it was evident that she wasn’t very active on facebook. Hence, I didn’t have much expectations and forgot about it soon. However, I was to be pleasantly surprised last night when I got a request accepted notification from her and a few messages in the inbox. We spoke for some 15-20 minutes that were laden with pure nostalgia.

Th entire conversation got me into thinking about a lot of things. Our schools, classrooms, education system, teachers, awards, rewards, etc. My teacher was sweet enough to make me feel good about my results. Now that I think of it, I wonder what do these teachers get in return for all the painstaking efforts they put in molding our lives. We shouldn’t plug in the salary as an answer here because we know salary is not enough.
Of all the termites eating up our education system, I am writing this to rake up only one issue which to me is as inhuman as things can get. I completed my schooling from a private English medium school and the teachers were not allowed to sit in the classrooms. They weren’t provided with chairs by rule and they had to stand for 1 hour of their lecture session while we students were comfortably seated in our benches and had desks to rest our hands upon. So, if a teacher has 4 periods to cover back to back, he gets to sit only after 4 hours. These 4 hours would very well extend to 5-6-7 hours a day of standing.

I have known teachers developing orthopedic health issues as they grew in their job and years. I have known Teachers collapsing to heart attack while teaching in the classroom.

This is almost a global issue. A plague that has spread its wings far and wide into the schools of our times –

Threw out their desks.

Teachers not allowed to sit down.

Diana Senchal paints a horrid picture here.

I don’t know what the educationists of our times are doing about the problem. Many of the Principals I have met or read would like their teachers to keep standing all their lives while they enjoy the air-conditioned comforts of their chambers. This is another import from the west that needs a rethinking. Private schools have become tools of exploitation.

India had a fantastic setup of education in the ancient times when the Teacher or the Guru used to sit on an elevated platform and the students or Shishya at a lower level. This was a method that was technically and logically justified. I don’t know of a profession that deserves more veneration than that of a Teacher. At the same time, an elevated platform gives the students full view of the Guru and his expressions without him having to stand. Even if we add the need of a blackboard or a screen in the modern times, I see no reason for the Teachers to be compelled to stand through their own sessions. It’s utterly farcical when a Teacher can be trusted to empower our children and mold their future but can’t be trusted to judiciously use a desk.

This must change. It’s not that the teachers do not know their rights or have not rebelled. However, we must admit that the rebels are minorities most of the times in most of the places and can be easily quashed by handing down a few suspension and deputation orders. In such a situation, it is perhaps for us students who are doing relatively better in our respective lives to revolt against this draconian practice of our times. It is incumbent upon us to raise a movement against this custom and let our teachers enjoy the craft of teaching instead of being exploited and tortured into it. We students owe almost all of our being to these superhuman beings. I don’t know if there is anything that can compensate them back. Teacher’s Day is approaching. So let us try to walk up to our teachers this time and surprise them with a gift that they have deserved for so long.

We at bookstalkist have written a petition to Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development – Shri Prakash Javadekar to look into the issue and direct the schools to provide seating facilities to all Teachers irrespective of seniority or payscale.
Only then maybe we can wish our teachers a ‘Happy’ Teacher’s Day.
Please show your support for the movement and sign the petition here – Petition to Hon’ble HRD Minister