When a person does a job for the income or wage that he earns, it is an occupation. When the same person goes the extra mile and does the same job with dedication, it becomes a passion. In today’s world, where everything is in the grip of commercialization, and even the Almighty is not spared, if there is one tribe that has remained pure and unpolluted by the changing circumstances, it is our beloved teachers. Though the commitment of our teachers has been tested throughout history, they have remained rock solid in their endeavour to spread knowledge.
In the olden days, students attended Gurukulams to acquire knowledge. A Guru did not teach for monetary consideration. He taught the values of life only as a duty towards mankind and as service to God. No distinction was made between the rich and the poor. Be it Prince of the nation or child of a commoner, they were treated and taught alike. Anyone interested in studies was imparted education. Students stayed with the Guru in his Gurukulam, did odd jobs for him, and acquired knowledge.
Saints and Sadhus too donned the role of a teacher. They travelled the length and breadth of the country teaching people the virtues and values of life. They did it as their solemn duty. They did not own anything and they lived on frugal food offered by their devotees. Their only wish was that knowledge should be spread to maximum number of people and all people should live an honest and decent life and peace should prevail everywhere.
When the British occupied India and started their colonial rule, modern education was introduced and teachers were brought under the category of “employees” and they were paid salary. After independence, there was a large transformation in the field of teacher education and recruitment of teachers. However, the commitment and passion for teaching shown by our Teachers right from the age of Gurukulam till today has remained the same.
It is often said, “A teacher is born and not made”. A fine example is Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, affectionately called as People’s President. The late President was basically a scientist at DRDO. He later became Director of ISRO and acted as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister. Later, he decorated the office of President of India. Despite holding such prestigious positions, his heart was always beating for teaching. Even the highest office of the President of India could not suppress or contain the teacher in him. He always believed that only teachers could shape the future of India. His passion and commitment for teaching was such, that the noble soul breathed his last in the midst of students and doing what he liked the most - teaching. Such was the passion and commitment of this true teacher.
When Dr.S.Radhakrishnan was President, he was asked how his birthday should be celebrated. The President, without any second thought, said that it should be celebrated as Teacher’s Day. Till this day, every year, fifth day of November is celebrated as Teacher’s Day.
There is a fine thread of relationship between the above mentioned noble souls. While Dr.S.Radhakrishnan was a teacher turned President, Dr.Abdul Kalam was a President turned teacher.
The kind of respect that the Teachers commanded before and after independence was highly appreciative. However, during the past few years there is a widespread jeremiad about the declining quality of teachers.
Though this may be true in one or two instances, more than 99.99% of our teachers are faithful to this noble profession. If there is a shortfall somewhere, I feel, it is the government which should take the blame. Teachers are not paid the salary that they deserve be it in government schools or private schools. Life of a teacher/lecturer in private educational institutions is more pathetic. Presently, the salary drawn by a peon at entry level in Government service is more than Rs.10,000/-. His required qualification is a mere pass in 10th or 12th standard. Whereas, teachers/ lecturers working in private educational institutions, most of whom are post graduates, draw the same amount or in some cases, a little higher. Our teachers are working only under such economic constraints. Despite all the hindrances, a Teacher does his/her best in imparting quality education to the students.
A teacher does not see his/her students as mere students. Rather, they are seen and taken care of as teacher’s own children. The superior quality of a teacher that is not found in any other professional is that a teacher does not restrict his job to teaching the subject that is allotted to him. Students are taught the values of life, problems that they could face in the future - be it in workplace or family, and the ways to tackle and overcome those problems. In short, a teacher acts like a parent, friend, philosopher and guide.
There are a number of teachers who have helped/still help poor students with tuition and exam fees. In most of the cases, the teacher himself/herself would not be economically well off.
It is commitment and passion, i.e., to see that no student is deprived of knowledge due to lack of money, that makes teachers even to take loan, and help the students to pay their fees.
Likewise, there are plenty of instances when teachers have taken private tuitions to students hailing from weaker sections of society, both bright and dull (in the case of bright students, to excel better and in the case of dull students, to excel), absolutely free of cost. If only the teacher had devoted the same time on students coming from financially well off families, he/she could have monetarily benefitted to a great extent. But no teacher wants to sell his/her knowledge. They want to share it with students. Just like a candle helps in spreading light and illuminating other candles, a teacher spreads knowledge to the student community.
Today, other than low income, another problem faced by teachers/lecturers is, the way in which they are portrayed in our cinemas. Irrespective of the language, Indian films portray teachers and lecturers as buffoons and stupid people, film after film. The film makers should understand the true value of a teacher and give them the respect they deserve.
One adorable quality of teachers is, they never claim credit for the success of their students. A teacher always remains an elevator that helps people go up in life. This elevator has never brought anyone down. In those days, literary rate was low. But today it is high. This was not possible just because of the policies of the Government but also because of the commitment and passion of the teachers to spread knowledge.
It is true that every year, best teachers are honoured by the government with awards. But how many of us are aware of this year’s recipients or last year’s? But most of us are aware of the various awards won by cine stars and sports stars. The reason is simple. Media values cinema and sports more than teachers, and telecasts such awards show during prime time. In this melee, teachers are totally ignored and forgotten. It is high time that media, both print and electronic, devote quality time on teachers and telecast interviews of renowned teachers/lecturers. Teachers who have won awards should be recognized and encouraged. They are willing to share their experience with the world. But is our media ready? They hail reel heroes and heroines ignoring the real heroes and heroines, viz., our teachers.
Doctors and lawyers are seen and revered as Gods. But teachers are a class apart. They are above lawyers and doctors because it is teachers, who produce good lawyers/doctors. It would not be out of place to mention that it is because of the dedication and passion for teaching shown by our teachers for all these millennia, that they are rated above the Almighty, in this country. The order of respect taught to a child by its parents is Mata, Pita, Guru and Deva (i.e.) Mother, Father, Teacher and the Almighty, though no teacher claims superiority over the Almighty.
Even today, teachers are carrying on their noble task with the same dedication and passion with which the earliest teacher of mankind took up this noble task. The dedication and passion has not changed even slightly. Unless this fact is understood by everyone – more especially the Government and film makers, and teachers are given their due respect, there is no use in celebrating Teacher’s Day.
About the Author
Anandraj is a freelance writer and writes articles to newspapers. He is a firm believer in God and his writings focus upon humanity, human rights and struggle of poor people.