Teachers Deserve Respect and Honour

Published on September 3, 2009

By Thangkhochon Haokip

Teacher’s Day is here again. Schools have geared up and the ecstasy for the special day has filled the air. Enthusiasm in the spirit of children is visible in their innocent faces. Teachers are expecting their dues and parents do their bits to ensure that their wards do something special to give their teachers. The way of celebration may differ from place to place, but the rationale behind is the same: to eulogize teachers who train us in whatever way we can.
 
Much has been said on why September 5 is set aside to remember our teachers. Many are aware of the story of S. Radhakhrishnan, the man known to us as a great teacher, philosopher and statesman; the man whose birthday we are celebrating it as Teachers’ Day because of his contributions to the world as a teacher. Keeping aside the rest of the story, let us consider this.
 
Teaching is a noble profession which needs humility, regularity, consistency and tact. Teachers’ role as a molder and nurturers of a mere social being into a man is noteworthy. They are considered the second parents who play a vital role in socialization of young minds. Schools are the place where we first learn the moral and liberal values of life. It is where formal rules of manners and good conduct are learnt. Whatever the teachers have taught in these formative years is incorporated into our lives and creates a lasting impression in us.
 
It is a tribute to the school teachers’ hold on us that many people can still remember the name of their class VI math teacher, long after they have forgotten the algebra. Ask any of those high-fliers who have reached the pinnacle of successes in their respective fields about their muse, and they will tell you at least one teacher/mentor who is behind the scene.
 
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam ceaselessly extols his school teacher. Kalam is never tired of telling how as a child, grew up in Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, his class VIII science teacher Siva Subramania Iyer changed his life with a lesson on how birds fly. He recounts how Iyer, realizing students had not understood, took them to the seashore to observe birds. “The birds’ flight entered me. From that evening, I thought my future study has to be with reference to flight and flight systems,” he said. And as you know he becomes the “Missile Man of India.”
 
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD Biocon could not forget her teacher who motivated her to great height today. “Ann-Warrior at Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore, taught me to think for myself, to excel in everything I do and to do thing differently and creatively in order to make a difference. She also played an important role in instilling deep sense of values in me,” she said.
 
Yet, in spite of being a noble profession and its importance known to us all, it is one such profession which is, unfortunately, hardly encouraged. One can imagine how many parents would encourage their children to take teaching career. Or how many children would aim to become a teacher in private schools? Nevertheless, we have no shortage of teachers in schools irrespective of either by choice or by fate.
 
Considering the workload and the minimal pay package, teaching in the privately-run schools has become the last option for many educated youths. It is not uncommon to hear the educated youth community putting teaching in schools the last option if they do not make it to government jobs for it is still better than getting back to pre-industrial unskilled occupation.
 
The point needs to be raised. Imagine the life of an average school teacher; people like my distant cousin who works as a high school teacher in a privately-run school in rural Manipur. He teaches from 10 in the morning till 4 in the evening.
 
Students are not always obedient. Some are negligent, some stubborn, some talkative, some lazy, and so forth. He has to spend his energy and resources to impart education, moral values and wisdom. By the time he finishes his day’s schedule, he is exhausted. He teaches six days a week. He is doing this job since few years back. He does all these only to get Rs. 2000/- a month. He has a big family to support with this meager income.
 
The monthly income may be higher in urban areas. Minus the higher living cost, it is more or less the same. The trend is almost the same all over the country. Raw data shows that teachers in privately-run schools face the crises of almost the same magnitude. Besides the minimal income, irregularity of the hard-earned salary adds to the burden.
 
As we celebrate Teachers’ Day, it is pertinent and diligent on our part to reflect the lives of those humble teachers who tirelessly mould our children to be good citizens of tomorrow. Are not teachers moulders of our future? Are not children the most valuable asset of ours? If the answers are ‘yes’, then I believe this writing has a purpose, otherwise the whole effort I put in it is in vain.
 
Let us take, as parents/guardians, no idleness in depositing the required amount of fees on time. Let us not hesitate to do our part in our children’s education. As parents/guardians, let us wholeheartedly take our role in helping the teachers mould the clay into a desired shape. The unsung heroes and heroines of both private and government teachers deserve their place in society i.e. respect and honor.
 
The writer is a post graduate Sociology student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.