Wednesday, 23 September 2015

GOOD TEACHERS ARE NATIONAL ASSETS - TREASURE THEM

Why is it that we remember certain teachers vividly and are unable to remember most of others? Was it their fund of knowledge? Was it their communication skills? Was it their sense of humour? Or was it all this and much more? Yes, while I cannot put my finger on that one quality I admired most in my favorite teachers what I know for certain is they all had one thing in common – they were able to ignite the fire of ‘outrageous ambition’ in me. I have long forgotten the subject matter they painstakingly taught, I do not even remember whether I was their favourite student and how many marks they gave me in their subject, but what I do remember is their single minded dedication to make me a better man.

I remember an incident which happened 51 years ago when my father took me to a prestigious College in Lucknow for admission. While conducting an informal interview with trivial queries which one can expect a 6 year old to respond to, the Principal, Mr. H.N. Kashyap suddenly asked me “so son what is your father?” I don’t think I understood the question very well and so I replied, “Sir, he is a man.” Mr. Kashyap exclaimed “Good! And that is exactly what we intend to make one out of you, a good honest and sincere man” then turning to my father he said “Sir, Colvin does not guarantee you an outstanding scholar or a batch topper but it certainly promises you an outstanding human being who will bring pride and joy to his parents, his friends and relatives, his teachers, his Institution and his Nation.” My expectation from an educational institution and its teachers has never ever been less than that.

The teaching profession is dynamic and constantly evolving, it involves continuous learning and re-learning, thereby placing demand on teachers to upgrade themselves or else they would face the risk of becoming irrelevant. In the era of globalization, the challenges for teachers to upgrade their skills were demanding especially with the evolution in teaching methods and academic content brought about by information and communication technology.

I am of the firm opinion that Teachers are Nation Builders. Good teachers are the bearers of social genes, for they pass on to hundreds of pupils the knowledge, skills, beliefs and values that societies have accumulated over thousands of years. So a Nation can be just as good as its teachers. This is not simply a profession to earn a living; this is a life time commitment towards building the core strength of a Nation. Just like professional colleges to train doctors, engineers and now lawyers, there should be professional 5 years integrated course to produce high quality teachers. Their placements should be apolitical, preferably campus selections by various colleges and universities and their pay structures should be at par with the administrative officers of the government they serve. If the Prime Minister dreams of exporting teachers to the world, their quality will have to improve and the society will have to learn to respect them. If they have to grease palms and bribe officials to get jobs how can you expect them to be role models for our children? And if the society fails to understand their importance and pays them peanuts, then peanuts only attract monkeys!