Give better education, don’t just ask for better salaries

Patna, June 24 (ANI) The contractual teachers in Bihar had gone on strike in April demanding pay at par with regular teachers and better working conditions in schools.

The teachers on strike had locked hundreds of schools even as the state government had warned of action against them. However, the strike that lasted for 35 days ended in May after a written assurance was given by Bihar Education Minister P.K. Shahi to fulfill their demands, officials said.

This strike that compromised the future of several hundred students has made their parents sit back and think of the politics the government and the government teachers are playing towards the state of education in Bihar.

Is providing scholarships, mid-day meal and free uniforms the only role they want to play in uplifting the status of the poor as far as education is concerned? Can the quality of education be improved by only increasing salaries of the government teachers?

“We send our children to government schools as we cannot afford the fees that private academies charge,” says Ram Lachan Manjhi, a farmer from Bashaha, Sitamarhi in Bihar who believes that the concept of private schools and government schools has created a bifurcation in society.

“All those who can afford education in private schools will never send their children to a government school,” says Manjhi.

In entire Bihar, one would not find a single primary school providing regular and quality education to its students. All middle and higher secondary government school students are dependent on tuition to clear

the examination. Clearly, there are no eligible teachers and no system in place. And for whom they are required? For the children of destitutes?

The educated class and the ones who influence the policy makers send their children to private schools. They are not bothered about how government schools are functioning. According to Kapildev P. Singh, an

educationist from the state, gone are the days when teachers played their roles with utmost honesty and responsibility.

“Schools were considered temples of education because every teacher played the role of a Guru to enlighten the students. They were not only regular but would reach school on time, help children learn lessons on timeliness and cleanliness; morning prayers played an important role then. But now expecting a government school teacher to be regular is too much to ask for,” rues Singh who believes that quality of education these days is assessed only on the basis of mid-day meal.

Bihar’s ex-Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi had admitted last year that government schools, barring a few, were not delivering expected results and they need to utilise their resources properly to provide better education and discipline to the children. Expressing displeasure over the poor work culture, Manjhi gave an example of teachers in government schools.

“A government school teacher gets Rs. 40, 000 per month and a private school teacher gets only Rs.10, 000, but teachers of government schools don’t come on time and leave before time. This has badly affected the quality of education in government schools.”

This lack of discipline has led to government school students struggling to read

even Hindi alphabets, while primary students of private schools were speaking fluent English.

Sheila Devi, who works in Kasturba Vidyalaya and is apparently convinced with the current system, reveals a shocking mindset -“Agar gareeb ki ladkiyan padh-likh jaayengi toh kheto mein nikoni kaun karega (who will work in farms if girls from poor families will become educated).”

There are two-hundred and fifty students enrolled in middle school in Husseypur Dalit Colony in Sahebganj Block of Muzzafarpur district but very few send their children to school regularly.

Most of the parents who work as farm-labourers, daily wage workers and are involved in other menial jobs complain that their children come back home after playing and having their mid-day meals. They go to school for the namesake.

Random inspection does put the system in place but for a short while. It forces the school authorities to work systematically – teachers come on time, conduct classes regularly, mid-day meals are given according to the fixed menu but the things get back to “normal” within days.

But when the same teachers go on strike and demand better salaries they must also introspect on the kind of services they are providing to the public.

The Charkha Development Communication Network , feels that it is important for the government to put in place a proper system that will assess teachers on basis of regularity and the result their schools are putting up every year. If government schools will continue to operate like this, then children of poor will never be able to compete with the children who have better economic backgrounds. They should not be treated as children of a lesser God.

The views expressed in the article are those of the author. By Amritanj Indiwar(ANI)

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