FROM THE PEN OF A DISTRAUGHT TEACHER
By: Sameer Fida Hussain
The Science of seed germination and its subsequent development into a mature plant fascinated me from my kindergarten days. The small garden dotted with beautiful cypress trees used to be the centre of my attention during my formative years. My maternal uncle, who I must say would have brushed past many gardeners of the world given his gardening experience, used to sow different varieties of seeds in the garden. Standing at an arms distance from my maternal uncle, I used to watch his moves with keen interest. I was curious enough to find out as to what goes into the process of seed germination. I would stand for hours with my feet apart and arms akimbo to see if anything peculiar happens to the seed. In the evenings my grandmother would call me inside thus signalling the end of the research period of a prospective child prodigy.
During the subsequent days, my maternal uncle would water the buried seeds almost regularly. The seeds would thus germinate and develop into tiny saplings. The birth of the saplings signalled the most difficult and laborious periods for my uncle as now the saplings had to be cared for and looked after with utmost patience and dedication. Regular watering, plucking out of wilted leaves, pruning, pest and insect control formed the basis of post-germinate care of the seeds and to be sincere my uncle did his job religiously. After some time the saplings would grow into mature full-fledged plants with beautiful flowers spreading their aroma to the farthest corners of the garden.
Strong parallels can be drawn between the germination of a seed and the education of a child. A teacher gets a sapling in the form of a child and he is in-charge of the most difficult job of shaping his/her future -- A future where the child is looked upon as an inspiration for others -- A future where the scent of the child’s knowledge spreads far and wide. Aptly called “the nation builder”, a teacher works tirelessly to achieve the desired goal. The magnanimity of this prophetic job can be gauged by the fact that the parents irrespective of their affluence and the social status they enjoy send their adult daughters to a teacher. They send their daughters to a teacher whom they do not know and with whom they have never interacted before. What prompts them to do so? Obviously, the nomenclature of the profession dispels all wrong notions that the parents might be harboring. The name “TEACHER” in itself brings a sense of security.
A teacher is a trustee. He/ She is just like a bird who takes flocks of young students under his/her wings, nurtures them, teaches them to fly and when they are ready releases them into the world. He/she sets them free and watches them with pride as they fly high into the sky. The triumphant smile which you see on a teacher’s face when students soar high above is unexplainable. Nothing gives a teacher more happiness than when his students excel and surpass him. I guess no other profession is associated with such bonding, love and cohesion. From times immemorial teachers have been doing a wonderful job. Those who are finding themselves amongst the top echelons of the country have been taught by teachers. No wonder that I too took up this prophetic job in a bid to do my bit for the society.
Right from my school days, I was good at writing. People would read my write-ups with great interest and look at me as a prospective journalist. My art of developing a story fascinated them. No wonder, that I was touted to be a skilled journalist. After passing my SSE (Class X), I began to send my write-ups to some of the leading dailies and their appearance in the columns of the dailies without much editing gave me the motivation and encouragement to keep going. I vividly remember how I used to write an article in a neat and highly legible handwriting and post the same in the post office. Those days, access to internet was not easy as smartphones were rare and only a select few households had the facility of broadband. After completing my graduation, I formally wanted to peruse a course in mass communication and journalism but owing to certain compulsions could not. If journalism was my passion, then teaching was my fascination. I pursued the professional course of Bachelors in Education and completed it in the year 2007. In the year 2008, a primary school in our village was upgraded to the level of middle and applications were sought from eligible candidates for selection of teaching guides called Rehbar-e-Taleems. I too submitted my application and as it happened, I was engaged as a Rehbar-e-Taleem. The salary or should I say honorarium of the post was so meagre that maintaining the decorum of a teacher became difficult. Peanuts were paid in the name of monthly honorarium. But if a person has been engaged as a teacher, he has to maintain the decorum of a teacher even if the cost of a good pair of shoes surpassed his monthly earnings. He should present himself as a model to the society even if his/her ailing parents are writhing in pain for want of medicine. His apparel should reflect his modesty even if he cannot manage a square meal for himself, leave alone his dependents.
Five years, yes five years was the period for which he had to undergo this ordeal. After the completion of five years uninterrupted and satisfactory service he was regularized as a general line teacher and this is exactly what kept him going in his initial five years. After my engagement in the department, I put all my efforts to raise the educational standard of my village. I worked laboriously to fulfil the commitment that I had made to my employer. All along I knew that post the completion of my five year probationary period; I would be regularized as a general line teacher. The sharp pangs of being less paid were nullified by the thoughts of getting a regular pay scale after the specified period. I rue the fact that I did not apply for the post of a general line teacher advertised by SSRB back in 2012.
At that time, I thought that since my probationary/honorarium period was about to complete so it would be meaningless to apply for the post. Add to it the fact that in the heart of my hearts, i knew that my initial five years’ service will not go waste and it would be counted for fixing the seniority and other allied benefits. I turned a blind eye towards several contractual teacher appointments that came my way during this period. I thought that since the nature of the appointments is contractual hence it would be futile to apply for them. In the year 2013, I was regularized and an order mentioning my appointment as a general line teacher was handed over to me. My service book was prepared and pay in the regular scale was drawn in my favour. I got time to time D.A hikes, I got yearly increments and the same were entered in my service record.
My counterparts, who were engaged before me, availed the benefits of 6th pay commission and were also granted in-situ promotions. The only problem that I faced was that my salary was not drawn on a monthly basis. Time and again, my employer came up with the excuse that since I am an SSA teacher, hence there is a delay in the disbursement of salary. I stood puzzled because my formal appointment order did not mention the name “SSA teacher”. I only knew this much that I was a general line teacher and had nothing to do with the source of funding or the pattern of funding. From the last two years, a lot of ruckus has been created on the issue of SSA teachers. The previous coalition government stirred the hornets’ nest by debarring SSA teachers/headteachers and RMSA masters from the benefits of the 7th Central Pay Commission. Some of the ministers in the previous coalition dispensation also used words like ‘Contractual”, “Noor society” etc which further worsened the crisis. I fail to understand that if the Government framed a policy and several top notch IAS officers after looking into the nitty-gritty of the policy implemented it then why are the erstwhile policy makers exhibiting this chameleonic character?
Who framed the policy and who implemented it? Who misconceived the policy and who issued the orders? Certainly, it was not an SSA teacher. IAS officers of immense administrative acumen vetted the policy and believe me an IAS officer is far more knowledgeable than an SSA teacher. With their backs against the wall, the teachers have been compelled to take the war path. A teacher who is supposed to be in the classroom is protesting on the road for his legitimate right. Pushing, heckling, yanking, cane charging, chasing away those whom you call as nation builders is barbaric. What kind of society are we living in where a taught baton charges his teacher? What impact would the learners be having on seeing their teachers being beaten?
I opted for the job because of the dignity, respect and charm associated with it but my custodians have torn apart my esteem, identity and individuality by making me a butt of ridicule before the people. I don’t want to remain in the news for bad reasons but those at the helm have degraded my status. Governments’ wild card of forming committee after committee has had a cataclysmic effect on my psyche. There was one administrator who strongly advocated teachers to be included in the “warrant of precedence” but there are still others who are irked by this lot and their issues. I have been discouraged and demoralized at every step and I pity myself for wasting my youthful ten years in this ever elusive scheme. It is an irony that those contractual assignments that came my way during my probation (and which I ignored) have got converted into regular jobs thereby enjoying all the perks and privileges.
On 5th September, Teacher’s day was celebrated throughout India as a symbol of tribute and honor to the contribution of teachers to the society. The day marks as a day of gratitude and respect to the selfless efforts of teachers. But this year, I choose to stay away from any sort of celebration. Having said that, I will not desist from my moral responsibility of thanking my teachers who have motivated, guided and inspired me at every stage of my life. I, from the core of my heart, express my sincere gratitude towards my teachers without the guidance and support of whom I would not have been able to write what I am writing today. I also wish success to my students in their endeavors.