Teachers: A disgraced community

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By: Ishaq Begh

APJ Abdul Kalam while idolizing a nation builder says, “Teaching is very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me”. Another scholar from the USA, Maggie Gallagher says that, “Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.”

Aristotle, the great scholar while honoring a teacher says, “Those who educate children are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well”. Alexander the Great also while glorifying a teacher says, “I am indebted to my father for living but to my teacher for living well”.  It is a teacher who opens a school for a child and closes a prison for him forever. Here, while mentioning the above quotations of great scholars my only intention is to raise the voice in favour of those who uplift a society from ground to skies, in favour of those who burn their today for the tomorrow of others. It is a well established fact that the developed nations of contemporary world are totally indebted to their teachers in real manner.

The nations which were totally broken till yesterday are the masters of their previous bosses today and this happened only due to the efforts of a teacher and implementation of education. No one can deny that knowledge is the divine light and power and its bearer is a teacher.

So venerating a teacher is itself veneration of knowledge. The vilification of a nation builder means the impudence of education and knowledge. Here it is mandatory to mention the event of cave Hira, where our beloved Prophet (pbuh) received the very first revelation of the holy Quran and that was “Iqra” meaning ‘read’. Muslims treat every prophet as a teacher and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as imam ul  Anbia (leader of prophets). Here the question arises, why the first revealed word was Iqra (Read) and not any other. Because he was not read in any school and Almighty didn’t liked that His beloved (pbuh) should be taught by any other human being.

If that was the case then the top most human must owe a favor to his teacher and mentor. It is the teacher’s profession which is not only liked by the Almighty alone but instructed everyone to follow the same. In the USA and other European countries a teacher commands a good respect in his society and lives a life with regards and deserving honor. Even the security forces are not allowed to enter the street where a teacher resides even in terrible circumstances.

But ironically in our state of Jammu and Kashmir the case is totally poles apart, here teachers have been made the subjects of political class and a low caste in the society. They are being treated like the class of bonded labor with traumatizing directives and undeserving guidelines. Power exercised by the ruling class always remain busy in search of the ways so that they can lift the already lifted ones more and more and deprive the hardworking class of their rights. When such a situation arises, no one should think of the durability and development of that nation because snatching ones rights imbalances the whole society.

Two decades back when the whole Indian education system was lingering with least literacy rate and lack of proper schooling to all, a bold decision from the central govt was needed as a boost to it. So a scheme under the title of SSA was revealed in order to address the forgotten issues and areas of education sector- universalize the elementary education and access to all for main schooling so that in coming years the literacy rate of India will achieve the desired goal.

But under those appalling circumstances it was mere impossible but in fact equal to the day dreaming because of many confronting issues. In Jammu and Kashmir it was also impossible to raise the literacy rate and universalize the elementary education because of its topography, militancy, backwardness and empty treasury. There were no schools in majority of its areas and the existing ones were either closed down or were under staff.

Under SSA scheme the Indian govt. authorized all state governments. to open new primary schools in remote areas at the distance of one kilometer  and upgrade the existing primary schools at every three kilometers to the level of middle schools. Central govt. in this scheme categorically illustrated that teacher recruitment will be as per state govt. norms. Here J and K govt. tried to kill two birds with one stone, (1) rise the literacy rate of Jammu and Kashmir with universalizing of elementary education and (2) not to put disproportionate burden on the state treasury.

So the state govt. announced its own scheme known as ReT scheme, under which it recruited thousands of teachers with highest qualifications with the remuneration of only rupees 1500 for initial five years for which not only Jammu and Kashmir state but India also got the humiliation at international level. Teachers recruited under this scheme were regularized after their satisfactory service of five years and were supposed be treated like others in the education department but unfortunately were treated with step motherly attitude.

Central Govt. under SSA simply funded every state for the areas coming under the domain of the universalization of elementary education and other issues were left under the power corridors of state govts. Ironically due to the incompetency of successive governments whole emphasis was laid on the SSA scheme which was not to be done. Under UPA regime there was no short fall of funds and state governments across the India were smoothly functioning but now when the Modi led NDA govt. merged three different schemes (SSA, RMSA and Teacher Education) into one (Samagra Sikhsha Abhiyan) and curtailed the education budget from 43000 crores to 23000 crores, states started showing starvation and abruptly woke up from a deep slumber.

Jammu and Kashmir had not implemented the scheme in letter and spirit as it had not linked the salary of teachers under it thoroughly no doubt it regularized them and registered their service books under proper service rules. The more problematic factor is that every newly opened school and every upgraded school is registered under the education department of Jammu and Kashmir and fee collected from the students of these schools is also being paid to the state treasury then how teachers are not the employees of state as some miscreants say.

Where there are problems there lay the remedies only good minds are needed. State govt when collects the revenue from these schools why don’t it register them fully under its domain. And, if such schools are already registered under it then why not the teachers working there? When the state govt has availed these SSA teachers with 6th pay commission and yearly increments then how can it deny them the rights under 7th pay commission? If the Jammu and Kashmir govt will not resolve their genuine issues immediately the career of thousands of poor students will suffer and the whole blame will be on PDP led govt. Isn’t it a shame for this govt that its employees are at the logger heads with it on roads and it is spending worth crores on unnecessary iftaar parties on daily basis. Govt has to wake up and address all the issues of its hardworking employees.

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