When I get the money, I’ll teach the children
Posted On July 25, 2021
In January, I had to leave my home in Gujarat and move to Bangalore, in India’s second largest city, to teach classes in a primary school.
I am not a trained teacher, and I was never a paid teacher.
For me, teaching has always been about having fun.
It has always felt good to teach, and the idea of being paid for it, especially at a time when the world is so divided, was appealing.
“It was a lot of work and I really liked teaching, so I was determined to do it, but I had no idea how long it would take, or how much I would be able to make,” I said.
The job was the equivalent of a full-time full-day job in my native state of Tamil Nadu.
While the state’s government subsidises the cost of schooling, its government schools in Kerala are run by private companies.
A salary is also not mandatory, and students can choose from a wide range of professional qualifications including master’s degree, master’s in business, and PhD. Teachers in Kerala get an additional wage of Rs 1,200 per month (about $500) for a one-hour course.
In India, it is common to see teaching jobs in rural areas, where salaries are often lower.
Some teachers work as cooks or domestic help, while others are on the lookout for a new role, or find it easier to find work as a substitute.
But for those who choose to take up the teaching profession, it can be an extremely demanding job, especially when there is no professional training.
As part of a national debate on the pay gap, the World Bank recently published a report highlighting that in India, while more than half of teachers are paid a salary of Rs 7,000 (around $2,800), the pay of primary teachers in Kerala is much lower at Rs 2,500 (around £1,500).
There are also reports that the government has failed to ensure that teacher training courses are funded.
What’s more, teachers’ contracts vary from one state to another, and teachers may find themselves in different parts of the country.
At a recent meeting, some teachers told me that they had to travel to different parts to find suitable teaching positions.
According to the National Council of Teachers of India (NCTO), about 45% of the current teachers in the state of Kerala are from the Northeast and North-East.
These regions have a much higher proportion of teachers who are not educated and may not be able or willing to teach in rural communities.
To tackle the pay disparity, the government is considering introducing the Teacher Quality Scorecard, a ranking system to ensure the quality of teaching in a state, according to the NDTV report.
However, it may be months before teachers are able to enrol in a teaching course and enrol for classes, which is why the National Teacher Training Standards are being phased out.
India’s Teachers Union says the government should be making the system available to all teachers, not just teachers from the north and northeast.
One of the key recommendations from the NTTS was to provide free teachers certificates to students, but the government seems reluctant to implement the recommendation.
Despite the government’s reluctance to implement it, some are starting to implement teachers’ unions’ demands.
Union leaders say the government will take action to make sure teachers have the skills and training they need to teach.
On April 11, the National Union of Teachers, an umbrella union of the more than 15,000 teachers across the country, released a joint statement with the Indian Association of Secondary Teachers (IASST) calling for a national Teacher Quality Test (PTT) in all schools.
The statement said that the PTT should be administered in all districts and that teachers from rural areas need to have the required knowledge and experience in teaching to ensure good teachers and good results.
Students and teachers in remote areas are also in a different position to teachers in cities.
With no teacher training and no funding, rural students are unable to access teaching materials and knowledge, while urban students lack the same.
Many students in rural districts are also less likely to enrol for school.
They are unable afford to attend school and cannot afford the expensive transport costs and meals they require.
Unions are also calling for greater funding for primary schools in rural and remote areas, and a teacher training programme for all teachers.
When I reached Bangalore for my final month of teaching, the atmosphere in my classroom was different.
There was no chatter in my classes and teachers were busy with other students, teaching, and taking notes.
Though my colleagues were also busy, I was in the back of the classroom.
After lunch, my students were sitting down in their own section of the room and talking to each other.
They had a lot to discuss.