Always a matter of pride to proclaim that India, a nation with demographic dividends, possesses a mammoth education system in the world. Perhaps the country's huge population posits it for such a tag, nevertheless, the gross enrolment ratio (GER) needs improvement to match the access to education as that of the developed nations. For many decades, the country has been focussing on expanding the education system to meet the aspirations of its citizens. As a result, the opening of educational institutions in the public sector as well as in the private sector has brought noticeable improvements in GER. Simultaneously, the concerns about the access, equity, and quality of education offered by these institutions are haunting ubiquitously. Therefore, it is inevitable to consolidate the existing education system for good quality deliveries with equal access to all while increasing the number and capacity of educational institutions well equipped with all enablers of education.
Among major influencers of education, the teacher is the most vital enabler for achieving excellence in education. Inexorably, the key to transforming human lives lies in the wholehearted and committed involvement of teachers in the generation building. Diagnosing the sources of inefficiency in the prevailing education system majorly boils down to insufficiency of teachers along with the lackadaisical attitude of teachers emanating from the treatment meted out to them on differing accounts in educational institutions of both the public sector and private sector.
Educational institutions in public sector
As the vacant posts of teachers are rampant across the education system, the non-availability of a sufficient number of teachers in public sector education institutions is a predicament to another predicament of teaching by the temporary teachers hired on contract or period basis remuneration. Thus, the core process of teaching being carried out by the sizable proportion of temporary teachers reeling under uncertainty of makeshift employment always limits their involvement and commitment towards teaching and evaluation activities. In the context of India, job security matters a lot and such insecurity with the mentoring community affects the quality of education deliveries.
Contemplation of poor compensation to temporary teachers in education institutions affects their self-esteem, difficulty in meeting their livelihood requirements, and always on toes for getting some other secured placement, etc. which mars their overall performance in teaching. At the same time, the instances of regular teachers or permanent teachers simply transferring their responsibilities to temporary teachers and exploiting their presence in the institutions are also not uncommon. This complacency on the part of regular teachers eventually culminates in their exiguous inputs to students.
In the case of regular teachers, the delays in their promotions for career progression resulting in their avolition are predominant. Despite the presence of regulations for time-bound upward movement of teachers subject to the attainment of prescribed performance indicators, and its grant from the date of fulfilling eligibility, the delayed career advancement nucleates the dissatisfaction among teachers. It goes without saying that discontentment among teachers on account of any ground impairs the quality of the education system severely. The timely grant of career advancement motivates the beneficiaries and the benediction of students taught by them. Demotivation and dissatisfaction in teachers on account of whichever reasons get reflected in the loss of efficacy in teaching activities and incurs an intangible loss to the students interacting with such teachers. Essentially, a teacher is an entity that has to teach, mentor, and act as a role model for students at all times, then the lethargic attitude of the teacher even for an iota of duration spoils the quality of deliveries. With the education providers in the private sector coming up fast, the time is ripe to encash the available pool of competent teachers to the best of their capabilities and toil hard for recruiting the meritorious ones as teachers to meet the current teaching needs.
Educational institutions in private sector
Fortunately, the private sector education providers are better compliant with the statutory provisions as far as quantitative fulfillment is concerned. Nonetheless, it goes with the reality that mere fulfillment of the number of teachers, staff and infrastructure does not build up to the good quality in all circumstances. The quality of students, performance by teachers and staff, and the way teaching-learning-evaluation processes are carried out predominantly influences the perspective about the private sector education system.
Talking specifically of the teachers in self-financed private sector institutions, the requisite number of teachers is in place with the inadequacy of senior teachers. The financial compensation made to teachers in self-financed private sector institutions is not up to the mark. The lesser financial compensation is attributed to the scanty availability of funds in such self-financed institutions. However, the grant in aid institutions are much better off as their salary expenditure is borne by the government.
Less than stipulated payment of salary to the teachers creates a grudge of advantage of compulsion being sought from them and sprouts inherent disinterest towards teaching and associated activities which is catalysed by the sense of job insecurity, hostile, and stringent work environment. Quite often, this all leads to job dissatisfaction and estrangement among teachers in private sector institutions.
The common phenomenon with the teachers of private sector education system includes, hire and fire system of human resource, exploitation, poor service conditions, insufficient leaves, overworking, lack of time for self-development to become good teachers, lesser respect to teachers by students and parents, drifting of powers from the head of the institution to the promoters/owners of the institution, etc.
Unequivocally, some private sector institutions have demonstrated exemplary performance and are highly preferred in admissions. For instance, the presence of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham – a private sector institution, at 13th rank in the overall ranking among the participating higher education institutions in the NIRF-2021(National Institution Ranking Framework) points towards the serious and significant efforts put in by the private sector education providers to achieve excellence. Another pointer about the unsatiated demand for good education lies in the rush of students to seek admission in such institutions despite the reasonably heavy fee charged from them. Introspection shows that it is the fructification of the adherence to the norms and standards prescribed by the education regulators along with their effective institutional governance and doing much beyond these for administering virtuous education
Diminishing the quality of education is making a clarion call for targeted interventions that are inevitable to ameliorate the state of affairs related to teachers in educational institutions in the public sector and private sector. The merit centric fair recruitments of teachers with commensurate compensation, creation of an effective framework to ensure their contributions as per prescribed teaching and other responsibilities, enticing human resource policies, inspiring leadership for good governance, requisite teaching-learning infrastructure, and, the sufficiency of financing are critically required to smash the vicious trap of insufficiency and amotivation of teachers disfiguring the education system of the country.
With NEP 2020 (National Education Policy) presenting a very ambitious roadmap for welfare and overall development of teachers, the urgency lies in assessing every education institutions redressing the plight of teachers through stopping overworking by teachers, getting rid of contractual teaching, merit centric fair recruitment of teachers as per norms, providing minimum wages, parity in salary pattern, payments as per norms, providing exhilarating governance, creating a congenial working environment for restoring the mental satisfaction of the teachers and bringing in happiness at workplace in general. The panacea for tweaking the education system lies in the motivated and satisfied teachers across the institutions, else the buzzwords of access, equity, and accountability will be ludicrous.
(The views expressed are personal)