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ImageI came back from a visit to a government school in Rajasthan today and I was so appalled by what I saw there that I felt I had to make an entry. I stepped into a class of 8th standard children who were being taught English. Their teacher had written a few words on the board which the children copied down. She sat on a chair, away from the children as she was very clearly pretending to teach them. The children seemed lost and and she made a show of correcting their notebooks, (a very shoddy display of teaching theatrics, might I add) making them all stand up and for my benefit, zeroed in on two children whom she had clearly forgotten about for the past few years.

These two children have been coming to this school for over two years and yet don’t know the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that relate with them. This was what I found out after I spent a few minutes with them, attempting to decipher why they couldn’t read and write what was written on the board. Their class teacher, who has been supposedly teaching them for the past few years didn’t seem to know what was wrong with them. Anybody want to take a fluke guess here as to why?! Another teacher who was sent to supervise this class as their English teacher left the classroom, was spotted sleeping on the chair. I love to exaggerate and make my stories more convincing but, this time around… I’m just stating what I saw.

If that wasn’t shocking enough, I then witnessed a teacher hit two students for being ‘naughty’ and then watched on as a teacher gave test papers to children and sat on her esteemed chair as they copied from each other, very evidently. Oh, but this only gets better because they were sitting right outside the principal’s office, in his very field of vision and calling out answers to each other. These test papers are supposed to be what we call ‘placement tools’, through which we place the child in their appropriate learning level group. I would really like to know how many of these children would come under the slow learners category because nobody was supervising them as they were shamelessly copying. 

Points to be noted

1. Government school teachers get paid close to Rs. 50,000 a month

2. They spend most of their time in election duty or other government schemes which require all of their time (supposedly)

3. These teachers send their children to private schools (I know this from conversations I’ve had with them)

4. They pass exams to become government school teachers

5. The government spends lakhs of rupees on a monthly basis in getting them trained

6. NGOs like Bodh monitor these schools and try telling them to change

7. Most students who come into the 6th standard don’t know how to read and write Hindi let alone, English

8. These children aspire to become teachers because they realize that it’s the easiest thing to do – don’t do anything and get paid

Do you see how this is a vicious cycle? There are scores of teachers who might actually be doing their children and their schools justice but I seem to have been unfortunate enough to meet the wrong ones then. This is the state of affairs in almost every school across the country and we’ve been wondering why we haven’t had a surge of intellectuals rising up to the surface. I want to laugh but I’m too upset to even mock the state of our education system.

What happened to teachers who wanted to make a difference?! Where did they all go?! When did they stop taking it as their responsibility to just teach, if not inspire?! I remember my teachers throughout school and I can only thank them and my family of teachers for the way I’ve turned out today. They don’t make teachers like them anymore… very clearly…

“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine?” – Mitch Albom

Picture courtesy: Anjali Mariam Paul