On this #TeachersDay

This is more a personal post. I grew up watching my mother put her heart and soul into teaching for more than 25 years of her working career. My childhood memories revolve around her always doing something around teaching — even at home — correcting papers, preparing for her class, etc.

And my wife, is a music teacher who went to the prestigious Berklee College of Music and loves teaching. And is one of the most sought after music teachers in Bangalore in her private music studio

And so it goes without saying, I have a real soft corner when it comes to teachers. I still remember with appreciation all that teachers have done for me, right from school to college to my post graduate degrees. I won’t be what I am today but for all those wonderful teachers. And I’m sure most of you resonate with what I’m saying.

On my encouragement, since both our kids go to school now, my wife decided to put her teaching skills to broader use and has been teaching for a couple of days a week for more than a year now. This is in one of the most reputed schools in Bangalore

Through this process, I realized, how little we value teachers in our society. My first shock was on finding out how little teachers get paid even in this day and age — irrespective of their backgrounds and what kind of schools they teach in (private, international — doesn’t matter). An entry level software engineer (from a decent college) probably​ makes more money than most teachers you know. And this is for the most important job of educating our next generation.

But, what’s even worse is that they are treated as dispensable commodities in the schools. From what I hear, most of the teachers in my wife’s school feel they are treated badly — and when I checked with other teachers in my ecosystem they reflect the same. And they are forced to work there since they don’t see an alternative.

An incident happened a few days back that was the hair that broke the camels' back for my wife. She was called into the office along with another teacher by the HR person in school. When they went into the room, the HR person didn’t even offer them a seat (this was the first day of the new academic year) but handed them their contracts and shared the salary information verbally in front of each other. Imagine if that happened to you and a colleague, with your HR. A complete invasion of privacy!

My wife was so devastated and disappointed that she decided to resign the very next day after informing the school management. Funny thing is that the school management feels the HR person did nothing wrong! And this is one of the top schools in Bangalore.

Why aren’t more teachers voicing such concerns? Because most have no other income streams and are afraid they might lose their jobs if they speak up.

On this #TeachersDay, I write this with a heavy heart. I don’t have any solutions but wish this sad state of affairs changes and changes soon in India. For any teachers out there, please do share if you feel I have this whole thing wrong and things are much brighter out there. That would be very encouraging to hear.

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