Real-life teachers

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]
Teachers’ Day was celebrated across the nation, including Arunachal Pradesh, on 5 September. Teachers’ Day is traditionally celebrated in honour of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who was India’s second president and a scholar/philosopher. In Arunachal, Teachers’ Day was celebrated throughout the state with cultural functions and programmes in different schools and colleges.
Teachers have a major impact on our lives. Most people may not remember people like the richest person of the world, the most powerful person of the world, etc. However, most people will remember their teachers by name, especially the teachers of primary, middle and high schools. In many cases, teachers are the first role models for children. Being at an impressionable age, many young children look up to their teachers and want to emulate them in character, etiquette and behaviour.
Teachers have the onerous task of educating and grooming our children from a very young age. Many teachers perform this important role under demanding circumstances. Teachers’ salaries are low; many schools do not have basic amenities like electricity, water, toilets; there is lack of quarters and, in many cases, some teachers are not paid salaries for months. In a few remote corners of our state, teachers have to walk for days to reach the schools in the villages.
However, are teachers the only professionals to take on this onerous responsibility of educating and grooming our next generations? Can parents, elders and society shy away from this responsibility? Most schools provide just academic education to our children. Many parents expect that once their children are in school, it is the teachers’ responsibility to educate and groom them. The responsibility of teaching and grooming our children to transform them into responsible citizens of the nation must be shared by parents, elders and society.
Teachers teach the children to be honest, disciplined and sincere. But many children pick up bad traits like lying, cheating, indiscipline, arrogance, etc, from parents, relatives and society. In the olden days, to groom our children well, there was a book on moral values. Today, it is assumed that most students are honest and possess good character, and thus the formal lessons on moral values have been removed from the syllabi in many schools.
The profession of teaching is so noble and attractive that many successful professionals opt for teaching post retirement. The former president of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, went back to teaching after retiring. Other such teachers include Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein. Even in Arunachal, certain professionals and senior citizens are voluntarily taking classes in schools/colleges.
One baffling aspect is the growing preference for private schools by parents and children. Though government schools are well-funded and the teachers are paid relatively well, why are many children joining numerous private schools mushrooming in many towns of Arunachal? It is a challenge for the government to stem this increasing migration to private schools by improving the standards and performance. Do you agree? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)