Teachers are ladders to leaders

— Rameeza.A.Rasheed

21st century challenges are different from 20th --mass migration, climate instability, digital divide, effects of LPG .i.e. economic crisis and political crisis in many countries.

21st century challenges force the higher education sector to widen its role in the economy –
Knowledge society In India - 35% of the population is below the age of 20 years – a demographic dividend of earlier decade’s baby boom. By 2020, 35 millions will reach working age and hence creation of a knowledge society is the need of the hour to face the economic, political, and social challenges of our country. There is greater need for good HRD policy, which would make provision for quality school and college education which in turn would promote mental and intellectual development, skills training, research activities so that a knowledge society can be created.

Objectives of HRD policy and programmes
Developing the intellectual capacity of the younger generation through higher education and research motivation.

Developing soft skills to shine in their respective carreers--They are – communication skill ,analytical , logical reasoning skill and leadership skill (capacity for goal setting- policy making, strategy planning, programme chalking, and target achieving. To enable employees to perform these tasks, colleges should train them in analytical, logical reasoning, communication skill, time management, and crisis management skills.)

Life skills are needed for management of personal affairs. They are a set of human skills acquired to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life. They are - capacity to face challenges or crisis life, to use available resources to the best advantage. ie (time ,money, education, training etc ), to be free from dependency on others, to take independent decision regarding their life, ability to plan their own life, to participate in decision making process and to have positive attitude towards life. Only then people with survival techniques will emerge.

Character building – knowledge society which emerges as a result of quality higher education should also be an ethical society with good character.

In India, today we witness not only social, political, and economic chaos, but also moral crisis exhibited through deep-rooted corruption, criminalization politics, unethical corporate behavior, bureaucratic missbehavior, growing violence, crimes against women and children.

Seshan called it as crisis of character which has occurred due to degradation in the moral values of life.

There is an urgent need to impart value based education in which education on integrity, honesty, morality, non-violence, patriotism, secularism, and human values will be taught. Only then an ethical society will emerge in India.

People with soft skills, life skills, good character, and knowledge in various subjects only can emerge as leaders in different sectors of the economy.

India has leadership vacuum and teachers should aim to identify and train the youth. We need good leaders in the economic, social, and political fields to convert India into a vibrant and growing economy.

Teacher’s role
The responsibility for all these tasks is entrusted to the teachers. They are in charge of intelectual, mental and moral development of the youth-a heavy responsibility indeed.

The younger generation has ambitious goals to reach. – Need assistance, guidance, and helping hands-i.e. need ladders to reach the desired heights in life? Ladders are the instruments made of wood or strong metals, which help to climb up heights with confidence. The teachers play the role of ladders to help the students.

Since they play the role of ladders they need to possess certain qualities.

They are :
Ability to impart quality education through best pedagogic methods and good communication skill –
Ability to offer guidance when needed including career guidance.
Ability to conduct discussions to encourage participative learning.
Ability to spot leader skill and train them in it.
Ability to identify special skills and promote their soft skills.
Ability to train all the students in life skills.
Ability to command respect of the students and inspire them to set higher goals of life.
Ability to motivate and guide research activity.
Ability to impart value education to shape their character.
Ability to practice what they preach so that they become role models.
These are the common qualities expected from teachers.
School and college teachers have different types of duties to perform.

The school teachers are in charge of laying the foundation for creating knowledge and ethical society.Teach the basic concepts of each subject clearly — use interesting pedagogic methods and encourage reading habit and use of library among children. Impart value-based education through moral instruction classes. The college teachers are engaged in raising a quality super structure through higher education.

Their duties imparting higher education, developing soft skills and life skills motivating towards research. They act more as ladders since they help students in climbing from one-step to another until they reach their career goals.


Higher education is a tool of empowerment. Higher level of knowledge gives power, power gives confidence and confidence helps in facing challenges of life in a competitive world. In short, college education prepares youth to face the challenges of the 21st century since it is an essential component of HRD.

Types of college teachers: William Author said mediocre teachers just tell, good teachers explain and great teachers inspire.

Ordinary teachers: strictly follow the syllabus and the prescribed text book, engage in rhetoric, have poor communication –teacher centric approach - don’t encourage discussions –don’t have reading habit chosen teaching profession out of chance not by choice – gap between the expectation and performance by the teachers – do not command respect of the students and their classes are considered as waste of time and there is glaring conflict of interest between the teacher and the taught and considered as weak and untrustworthy ladders and not useful to them. Unfortunately, Indian universities are filled with such teachers.

Excellent Teachers:
These teachers render quality lectures with latest information on the subject, taught, follow latest pedagogic methods like power point presentation, adopt student centric approach encourage participative learning, follow different methods for appraising students performance and encourage original contribution. Their classes are interesting and such teachers are considered as good ladders to climb up in life.

They use classroom as training ground for developing soft skills like communication, analytical and logical reasoning skills through encouraging classroom discussions where both teacher and students participate.
By involving students in project work, they train students in practical aspects of theories taught.
While executing project work they identify leadership skills and train them in soft skills. These are the teachers who go beyond syllabus and encourage original and out of box thinking.

Outstanding teachers:
They have very brilliant academic record - through excellent presentation of lectures, publishing of articles in renounced journals, writing books , presenting papers in national and international seminars and offering industrial consultancy, organizing workshops to benefit students through exposure to experts lectures and rendering guest lectures in renounced institutes of the world.

These teachers are continuous learners. They have passion for teaching job and work with dedication. They prepare excellent course material but allow students participation in it (e.g. Princeton university).
They inspire the students to read more and explore more to acquire more knowledge and motivate towards research activity.


They always spot special skills among students, entrust them with projects and thus train them in self-learning. They pat them when they achieve and guide them in times of need.
Regarding values of life, they practice what they preach.
They act as role models in work ethics, hard work, punctuality, and discipline.
They show compassion to under privileged students and go out of the way to help them through counseling.

They even offer career counseling.
In short, they go beyond syllabus and classroom. Such teachers are respected as friends, philosophers, and guides and never forgotten.
We would have come across 50-60 teachers during our education period, but very few teachers remain in our memory forever, because they had acted as the strongest ladders.
Majority of teachers in India are ordinary teachers since they have chosen teaching as a last resort, have no aptitude for the job, and hence take no effort to develop their teaching capacity.
However, we need great number of high quality teachers if we have to use the demographic dividend of the youth population and to create knowledge society.

Korea example
Some of you might think it is utopian or idealistic to aim for such teachers. But if the teachers set their minds to become excellent teachers and then into outstanding teachers in course of time and experience, so that they become the strong ladders to students, they can certainly reach that stage.

For that, teachers are to be sensitised about the expectation of the society towards them in creating an ethical and skilled knowledge society.

Educational reforms in India
As of 2011, India has 42 central universities, 275 state universities, 130 deemed universities, 90 private universities, 50 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 33 Institutes of National importance.

There are 33,000 colleges (private and government) issuing degrees including 1800 exclusive women's colleges.
India's higher education system is the second largest in the world, after the United States of America.
Kapil Sibal the HRD minister has introduced many reforms in the higher education sector. All western tools of higher education have come to say in India without creating suitable environment for it .Hence none of our universities have international ranking. Not a single college or university is within 200 ranks while China has six, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan have two ranks each.

The following are the reasons.
There is no improvement in quality of higher education. The corporate sector finds only 35% of our graduates fit for direct employment since they have only theoretical knowledge in the specialized subjects and lack the required skills need for a job. Almost two-third of our universities and 90% of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters.
The result of this situation are clearly witnessed.
The corporate sector is unhappy with the quality of the graduates.
The research climate is pathetic even in elitist institutions.

There is growing conflict of interest between the students and the teachers.Our universities do not attract foreign students But 4,50,000 students leave India to study in foreign universities and USA is the greatest beneficiary.

Over US$ 13 billion is spent every year, an amount sufficient to open 20 engineering and management colleges.
Why do they go? It is not only for jobs abroad, but also for exposure to international environment, better research amenities, flexibility in choice of subjects and courses, practical oriented learning methods, high quality of faculty and the state of the art facilities..

The orientation and refresher courses, the eligibility test like NET and SLET, PhD degree, and participation in seminars do not guarantee quality enhancement of the teachers. How many of the teachers have chosen teaching due to aptitude for it and relish the idea of accountability? Is not window dressing adopted on a large scale for better grade in self-appraisal and accreditation procedures? How many of the teachers are using the treasure of knowledge available in the internet to provide latest information to the student and engage in presenting papers to the journals of international standard? Do they give practical orientation to their theoretical presentation? What care is given to test the communication skill, aptitude for innovative teaching methods while recruiting teachers? It would be disastrous if we appointed anyone who just came along and if corruption plays a role in the recruitment of teachers.

Teacher’s complaints also may have to be considered. They complain about
• Over sized class rooms.
• More time spent on non-academic matters.
• No recognition and no incentive for good work.
• Heavy syllabus, poor infrastructure & facilities.
• Reforms introduced speedily without considering the ground realities.

Finally, a bad teacher is like a time bomb, because the individual would only continue to generate sub-standard students for decades and good teachers are like strongest ladders and help the students to reach their goals in life.

About the Author
DR. Prof. Rameeza Rasheed is a retired Professor of Economics with 30 years of teaching in JBAS college for women (formerly SIET college)-Chennai. She has specialised in Teaching Gender Economics and Indian Economic Development.

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