Saturday, July 30, 2016

TEACHERS: 'The Caretakers of today are the Makers of tomorrow’s Leaders'

TEACHERS: The Caretakers of today are the Makers of tomorrow’s Leaders

If the architects erect buildings and alter the face of a city, teachers sketch out the map of the future generation by shaping their perceptions, moulding their personalities and chipping off the rough edges to present to the world well –cultivated individuals. But is their contribution to the society duly rewarded? Perhaps this question might have boggled many a minds and triggers off many queries.

Need for an amendment

If there is one thing that is as consistent in the life of a teacher alongside the daily load of hard work, it is the sighs over low salaries, and the never ending loads of correction work- to say the least. There is always a time for necessary amendments; it may be considered imperative to focus the honourable attention of every sane mind on  the pressing issue with regard to the  teachers’ salaries.

Cogs in a machine

Every now and then, the issue concerning the teachers’ salaries is raised, but unfortunately not followed with full force and vigour, perhaps because the teachers themselves, being little short of becoming ‘cogs in a machine’ barely get time to create a liveable balance between teaching assignments, homework assignments, examination corrections, coursework, projects and the list may extend endlessly. Though all feel the utter meagreness of their service reward- a service that requires quality, dedication, commitment, honesty, hard work, sacrifice and above all, time, they can only give a barely audible expression to their woes. It is not that their cause falls short of recognition by themselves, or the public, or the concerned authorities, but as I said, the cause has not been made more than being ‘barely audible’ even though it is an issue that lies at the forefront of every society.

Why among the lowest paid?

Time and again, a very simple and basic question, raises itself in my mind, sometimes, very forcefully, namely, that why is the teaching profession among the lowest paid professions all over the world? With the exception of a very few countries such as Switzerland, to name at least one, where the teachers are among the high salaried professionals, teachers in the rest of the world are among the lowest paid.

The pillars of tomorrow’s world

Are the teachers not doing the most important job of cultivating the young minds in their state of infancy, grooming them through the most formidable stages of their young lives? Are the teachers not responsible for the character formation and the personality development of the young generation? Are the teachers not responsible for strengthening the conscience and morality of the young minds who are the leaders of tomorrow? Are the teachers not the saviours of the young minds which need to be carefully and safely steered through a lot of mirk in our modern lives? Are they not the builders of the “pillars of tomorrow”? If they are, then why such a low reward for them?

The basics

The minimum salary of teachers in the UAE is set close to Dh. 2000, and such is the case world over. With the ongoing inflation, the economic crunch and all other kinds of economic strains, how are the teachers expected to provide quality education and produce strong leaders and citizens when their own quality of life is far from ensured and insured? Within the Dh. 2000 or over bracket, they are not only expected to feed their own mind and body, but also raise  their families, as the vocation of being a teacher does not call for a state of singleness! Are they expected to live all their life below levels of decency, in sharing accommodation? How are they expected to provide a good education to their own children? A class of people who are devoted to providing education to the society’s children do have a right to give a decent education to their own children. How can the teachers have a fair chance of sending their children to expensive and the best places of learning with their meagre salaries?

High Time

I would suggest that it is high time that some respectability be granted to our teachers. It cannot be denied that social prestige automatically follows the economic status. How can the teaching profession gain respect and prestige when teaching is among the lowest paid professions?

Myself being from the same field, I know that providing quality education is a spiritual job. It takes the life out of people to guide a class to write correctly, to think openly and to feel diversely. The tediousness of making each student understand each and every concept, be it Maths or Science, Economics or Statistics, the labour involved, the energy drained and the stress undergone would be vouchsafed by any teacher- whether he or she teaches the primary or the secondary school.

Yes, no matter what the salary, but the satisfaction that a ‘good’, or ‘a hundred percent result’, or ‘a student distinction’ brings to a teacher, may find no match. In fact, a teacher’s satisfaction is no less than that of a doctor at the recovery of a patient. Both the professions are considered to be equally noble but why so much of disparity in the salaries? Without undermining the importance of any profession, it cannot be denied that a teacher’s contribution to the society is definitely very large.

A matter of distress

It appears to be a matter of great distress that such highly qualified professionals should be placed so low economically; even certain salesmen or semi-qualified people are seen to be fetching much higher salaries. It is true that to be a part of a business firm worth millions of turnover has the prerogative of being good paymasters- but what stops the social system and the education system to recognise the contribution of the teachers -but for whom the world would be doomed in darkness?

Teachers distribute the light of knowledge; surely they deserve a better deal!

It is not surprising that in order to compensate for their low income, many teachers resort to private coaching, which certainly offers the economic compensation but, at the same time, it begins another chain reaction that may not be totally supportive of a good education system. With three to four hours of private coaching and a heavy overload of teaching hours during the school hours, and the responsibilities of a family, how can a single human being be expected to do justice to one’s professional and personal demands? Very often, on account of private coaching, justice is not done to classroom teaching.

Yet at the same time, while Teachers work extremely hard in order to obtain the best KHDA grading for their respective schools, it is important that the ground reality about a decent sustenance level for the teaching community be sorted out.

A stigma

More than often there is a stigma attached to a teacher’s image. One hears people referring in near sarcastic tones, “Oh, she is merely a teacher!” Men, who opt for this profession, because of their passion for teaching may have to undergo huge financial distress, especially if they are the sole bread-winners; the economic returns in the chosen profession being so  meagre, most of them may have to resort to private coaching.

It is a pity that people with ‘Doctorate’ degrees and ‘Masters’ degrees fall into the lowest paid category. At times, it may be argued that with less than half a number of teaching days in a year and so many holidays, how is it justified to raise the salaries of the teachers? Well, here facts need a careful scrutiny. The amount of correction time put in by an average teacher at home, plus extra coaching and extra assistance in projects should provide a sufficient answer to any doubts whatsoever with regard to the requirements of the job and the much deserving rewards that the vocation calls for.

Looking on the brighter side

In fact, on behalf of being a resident of the UAE, one of the most upcoming countries of the world, I sincerely hope that this country shall honour the cause of expanding education to the furthest forefronts, and set up a unique example by providing positive solutions. To issues such as ‘Low Salaries’ for Teachers. Hopefully, it should appear as an accessible possibility to imagine the teachers’ salaries to start with a minimum range of Dh 8000, plus free education for their children, free bus facility, a decent accommodation and other regular perks. (Not to forget that the recent monthly bus fares per child soar up to Dhs 800!)

Providing the best quality

In order to improve the standard of education and to standardize education, it is imperative that good, inspiring and well qualified teachers should be attracted to this profession. Considering the external influences that operate on our present generation, after the parents and the home influence, it is the schools and teachers who can exert a strongly positive impact on our youth, guiding them towards firmer and higher goals.

A two-way communication

Any school counsellor would support the view that the students do look for positive guidance, inspiration and advice from the teachers, and once, their confidence is won over by their guides and supervisors, it may become a positive two-way communication, wherein both the students and teachers benefit from the interaction, the students from the correct guidance and the teachers, from the positive results.

It is important for the students to respect their teachers and the key point in furthering this cause is getting our teachers the well-deserved social prestige, which fortunately or unfortunately, directly or indirectly, is connected with how much ‘dough’ does one make at the end of the day. Money does make the world go round! And ironically, there seems to be a subtle link between the salary that one earns and the respect that one earns! A matter of misfortune though, but there does seem to be a set ratio- proportion between the salary and respect! The more the salary, the more the respect! Woof!

The society has to give the teachers a higher social prestige, which follows a better economic status.  

No doubt the economic crunch is having its impact world over but just as the Dubai government is trying to create a balance in its economic planning; it can show more generosity in the field of education. 

It is about time that no time is wasted in putting the student community on the right track and in consolidating the confidence of the teaching community by safeguarding their interests. All of us, the residents of this wonderful country have full faith in the goodwill and effective planning of the rulers and cherish the dream that Dubai is still a place that can work wonders, create miracles and set an example for the world by taking the first step in doing the long overdue justice to the builders of tomorrow’s leaders- namely, the ‘Reverend Teachers’ by granting them a respectable pay scale.

Mrs. Pushpinder Kaur

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