On 28th February, Pranab-da presented the Union Budget in Parliament.
18 days later, this is all I remember of it:
“I am happy to announce an increase in the remuneration of Anganwadi workers from Rs. 1,500 per month to Rs. 3,000 per month and for Anganwadi helpers from Rs. 750 per month to Rs. 1,500 per month. Around 22 lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers will benefit from the increase.”
This increment is long overdue. Its benefits must trickle – nay, surge – up. To every Montessori aide, school teacher, lecturer, professor and dean in every educational institution – public and private, aided and unaided, primary and postgraduate.
I consider five public services critical for a nation’s functioning – legislation, transport, police, medicine and education. Legislators, motormen, policemen and doctors have all struck work at some time or another – life was paralysed. But if teachers were to stop teaching, life as we know it would come to an end – for there would be no legislators, motormen, policemen and doctors.
Teachers rarely go on strike. When they do, it’s because they were not, are not and will not be paid as much as they deserve.
Teachers across the Board earn less than the least they deserve and live on lesser than the little they need. It is not easy for a single income middle-class family to survive on Rs. 15, 000 per month. Yet teachers are compelled to do a full-time job on half pay. And as they say, once a teacher, always a teacher – they work before, during, and after school. Even without the incentive of overtime.
Thankfully(?), there is no gender bias. Male and female teachers are uniformly underpaid. This implies both that men who opt to teach are less deserving than those who choose traditional professions such as engineering and accountancy, while women are being done a favour by being offered jobs at all. Either way, the dignity of the teacher is lowered.
So is the quality of education. There is a reason why professional colleges find it difficult to retain knowledgeable and exceptional teachers. It is the same reason why I will probably not continue in my medical college as a lecturer after graduation. Until we pay teachers what they deserve, we will not get the teachers we deserve. And there is no money in teaching.
Walawalkar Madam earns a pittance as a lecturer in the Zoology Department of a municipal college. But she rarely teaches during college hours. Because in the evening, she runs Prof Walawalkar’s Classes for MH-CET Biology.
I stand corrected – there is money in teaching, but none for teachers.
Teaching needs to be a financially viable profession that many will want to enter. My fifth standard class had 93 students. And one teacher. We need better numbers that are better qualified and better dedicated. And we’d better get them soon.
Bureaucrats in general and Pranab-da in particular, need to learn a less-on. Pay our teachers. It’ll pay off in the long run.
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