Moderated by Arunabh Singh and with the active participation of Dr Jagpreet Singh, Kavita Anand, Dr Sarvesh Naidu, and Dr Sean Slade, the topic ‘Does teaching need 3 R’s too?’ came alive onstage. Introducing the discussion, Arunabh Singh said, “Rhythm of algorithm is another R that got added to this list. We have been hearing about the 3 R’s or the 4 R’s for the students. Swati Popat was talking about how our teachers need to skill students better, they need to change their attitudes, they need to make them think and she was also talking about the problems that the teachers are facing. This is precisely what we plan to discuss here, which is 3 R’s for teachers which are remuneration - how much money we get, respect- is there adequate respect for the profession? And reskilling.” Definitely a much-needed discussion!
Dr Jagpreet Singh opined, “It’s a very sensitive issue and these R’s have become very important for all of us in the education world. Talking about respect, it is a very wide concept. Is it related to remunerations? Or is it a criterion to fulfill one’s demand? Am I skilled and am I paid according to my skills? We are teachers, we are masters. If we are talking about respect, we are talking about remuneration, we are talking about reskilling, let’s talk about righteousness. Let’s give that ability to the teacher and once that righteousness comes to the teacher, it becomes the more emphatic tool in the teacher’s hand.”
Kavita Anand went on to discuss the problems schools face in teacher intake. She explained that employing a teacher has become an incredibly difficult task. She said that because of this issue, every school has to become a mini training space. “We need to look at what it is that every teacher deserves to get. We also need to check if the respect that we’re talking about is actually earned or it is there because of position,” she maintained.
Sean Slade responded to the discussion by talking about his own experience. “I’m often travelling the world and talking to different ministries about evolving education.” He quoted Andreas Schleicher: “An education system cannot be better than its teachers.” He stressed that if you do not put an emphasis back on the teaching workforce, give them respect, and remuneration, responsibility and redefine the skills needed to teach, the education system cannot be improved. He explained, “I also have a fourth R that I introduced which is responsibility because if you want a teaching workforce to be respected, you have to empower them with the authority to make decisions, the responsibility to own what they are doing. Teachers are skilled technicians. They need to be technicians not only in what you teach but also how to teach. Each individual teacher should know their class best, their school best and should also know what an individual child needs in order for them to reach their full potential.”
Arunabh Singh then broached the issue of whether teachers should be making more money. Kavita Anand explained that she doesn’t have a figure to explain the amount teachers should be paid. She knows of teachers who work for Rs 1,200 a month and there are teachers who earn Rs.2.5 lakh a month, although they belong to the same country but are from broad spectrums. Anand believes that a teacher should also feel acknowledged and recognised apart from the salary. A teacher getting the right amount of workload is also a part of that package. She pointed out, “People think it is very easy to be a teacher but it is a lot of work. When you don’t respect a teacher with remuneration, it has a long-lasting impact on the education system and students.” She also pointed out a new trend wherein certain schools strike a deal with the teacher wherein she will be paid Rs 1,200 as salary but can take tuitions for the same students (who don’t pay fees for the school) post school and make Rs 35,000. Tuition remains a space that is completely unregulated, leading to the teacher trying to get all the students into her tuition class. Naturally, the quality of what the teacher delivers in school is never going to be something to be proud of. Anand believes that we should stop playing safe and deal with real issues.
Sean Slade suggested that if you change somebody’s mindset, then they start changing their actions. “We don’t need to necessarily prescribe what their actions need to be if you change their mindset. The reskilling that we are talking about is not delivering content. It is not delivering facts into the minds of students. It’s about developing skills that we know are going to be needed in this century and the next century. Have discussions with your staff about what is important and why they are in this job. Empower your staff to make decisions,” he recommended.
Dr Sarvesh Naidu explained, “You cannot change yourself unless you let go of something. That’s the mantra that’s been coming out of this conference. Why do we not talk about remuneration that needs to come into schools to be able to do something better? We all need to rewire ourselves and have a good partnership. In 2035, 75 percent of the jobs will not exist. So what are we teaching our students for - the known or the unknown? Many of us started with salaries that were less than Rs 1000. We were happy. Today we may get a lakh. We are content but we are not happier. So money alone is not the answer. We need to stop coming down too hard on ourselves,” he advised.
Much food for thought here…
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