September 7th, 2015
Image Source: cloudfront
Dear Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,
I heard your address to the students yesterday, sans their teachers. I am also happy that you have reached a settlement on OROP. I agree that we should take care of our war veterans. We should equally take care of our farmers and teachers.
There is no nobler profession than teaching. They shape our mind, show a path, impart wisdom. In countries like Flnland, teachers are more trusted than their army. A country that doesn’t make teaching a respectable profession has bleak future.
Today is Teachers day. And it is also the right time to think about our effort to make this profession respectable. Have we done enough for them? Here is my cheat sheet that we can do for our teachers. It needs will, conviction, empathy and most importantly concern for India’s future.
1. Respect our teachers. Let not bureaucracy regulate them. Let practitioners decide teaching, standards, assessments and testing.
2. Kill teacher training institutes. The current teacher certification system has done the biggest disservice to the India. Integrate teacher qualifications into the university system. They must be a part of the arts and sciences school of the universities.
3. Let teachers do a major in the subject they will teach. Knowing how to teach doesn’t make good teachers. They must know the subject better.
4. Make teaching prestigious as a profession. Give them the stature that makes them one step ahead of any other professions. It can be housing, schooling, medical or pensions. A careful look at our fiscal policy w.r.t teachers will yield desired results.
5. Make teachers salary tax free. Or increase their standard deduction dramatically. Put more money in their hands without increasing the cost of education.
6. Maintain a national registry of teachers and faculty – academic, publication, research and consulting records.
7. Incentivise people who chose teaching as a profession. The salaries must be best across industries or at least competitive. The best students must be choosing teaching as a profession.
8. Ensure that no educational institution or university ever can be charged any tax – income tax or service tax or sales tax. Bring down the cost of education.
9. Encourage private education, with enough regulation. Create more opportunities for teaching as a career option. Let the salaries increase due to such competition.
10. Lastly and most importantly, give them a boss that they can respect and look up to. Educational qualification is not a pre-requisite but stature definitely is. Don’t humiliate them by making them report to those who don’t understand importance of education.
Sir, It is Teachers Day. If you want to chart a new path for India and its youth, if you really want to derive demographic dividend, it MUST start with the teachers. You have the mandate. You have the will power. The nation has trusted you. It is for you to fulfil this trust or fail the nation. Start with the teachers and results will follow.
A concerned citizen