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Teacher is a parent away from the parents. 

Today’s Hindu editorial demands better teacher training institutions.  The editorial thinks that lack of qualification has led to deterioration in teaching.  I don’t agree.

The plain truth is that lack of remuneration has led to the deterioration.

Quality flocks to where the money is.  If money is the ultimate value in society. 

We are not living in the ancient days of the Gurukala when gurudom was the noblest position in the society.  Guru was god.  Guru possessed all the knowledge and hence the power.

Today knowledge is not power.  Money is power today. 

Does India want good teachers?  Pay them – that’s the answer.  Otherwise, change the system based on economy.

At any rate, who is a good teacher?

Let’s forget the economy and ask that question.

A good teacher is one who has a passion for learning.  One who has a passion for learning will keep learning his subject and that passion will automatically flow out to the students.  The students will absorb that passion in a process that is similar to what science calls osmosis.  Inquisitiveness for and acquisition of knowledge will then become the highest values. 

Most teachers I come across are people who lack such passion.  The reason is simple.  They find that with that passion they cannot look after their families.  Money is what runs families today. 

Alas, money is what runs religions, hospitals, and the teacher’s car which he/she bought in order to keep up with the Joneses.  The teacher cannot live in a personal ideal world.

If the teacher has to be a parent away from the real parents, he/she has to be sustained by the value system of the society, in short.  Why doesn’t even the Hindu understand that basic fact?


  1. Hi Sir,
    The sad fact remains there are very few teachers upto whom students can look up to.
    My friends are entering teaching profession because they weren't qualified enough to get anywhere else.
    Hope the govt finally does something good.

    1. Aram, not only your friends, anybody enters the profession of teaching today in India because he/she doesn't get any other job- even a fashion designer's (I'm mentioning that career merely because right now there's one person known to me who's doing this crime!)

      Bernard Shaw said that the one who knows to do something does it, and the one who doesn't know how to do it, teaches. Some fool like me added: "The one who can't teach, administrates."

      Fools enter the profession of administration thinking that it is all about playing petty politics of playing people against people. They do the maximum damage to the people.

      See the politics in any country.


  2. Dear Tom,

    thanks for that editorial and ur post. It is good news that the media is taking some interest in education or in the lowering in its standard.

    The standard of education is a universal issue; each nation has to think well how issues related to it cam be best resolved.

    You say,'Quality flocks to where the money is. If money is the ultimate value in society'.

    So how much is this money? Let us assume that the teachers get money enough to satisfy all of their needs; that is to acquire everything they can think of and to educate their children to acquire degrees in medicine and engineering,how is the teacher quality going to improve?

    I have read the readers comments on the editorial; your reason features less among them.

    If a teacher does not have the passion to his profession he or she should do the right thing say goodbye to the profession.

    This is my thinking.

    1. Prasanna,
      no one is going to say good bye to the profession at the age of 50 or so.

      You can't assume that the teachers get enough money simply because there isn't enough of money when the whole life is determined by money alone! That's what I'm trying to say. Take the whole system out of the need to depend on money. Can India do that? Can America do that? Can your South Africa do that?

    2. Hi Tom,

      I was asking a hypothetical question fully knowing that that is not possible in practice. But the fact I have alluded to was that, even if it happens, at this present rate what are the chances for the standard of education in India to improve. Yes you said it correctly, no nation can afford it.

      Even then;

      Let me bring to your attention a live example. Here in South Africa, there are mainly two kinds of schools under the government, not different in terms of employment conditions; but only in terms of the teachers attitude, management skill and work ethics.

      The first category are in the previously disadvantaged areas; there the teaches are mixed; blacks whites and Indians; the second category is the previously white schools; there also we can see a mix of teachers. The learners are mostly mixed in the second category.

      now the first category has very little production because the majority of teachers in those schools are struggling to reach the required level of commitment to their profession and the management has no managing skill; unfortunately I am a member in the management body of one school in the first category; so I am saying from live examples. All the opposite things happen in the other schools; there is sterling commitment from teachers and management means business.

      Let me also tell u that the monetary assets of the second category schools will come to many millions; they are in the market economy; schools are self managed institutions; capitalists are taking direct interest in the education of the children in both the category of the schools; but their contribution is direct to the first category schools because its management knows how to manage the money; but indirect to the first category for they know only how to squander the money.

      So to which kind of these schools can I compare the Indian schools?

      So From what I see here, I can say, yes it is possible, which means i can ask why is it not possible in the other schools as well as in the Indian schools.

      As I said earlier, teachers and administers are all equally paid in both these categories; in fact gov. funding is more for the first category schools.

      And this is not a country where teachers are paid enough. Also. money is playing a central role here; but why do I see this difference; actually this is a question that has been always bothering me

      I think I have made myself clear to you as well as wings:)

    3. Thanks, Prasanna, for your valuable contribution. You have made yourself quite clear to me. Wings will answer for themselves.

      As I see, in India, there are 3 categories of schools [downsizing for the sake of discussion - in fact, there are more than 3]. (1) the govt schools that pay the govt prescribed scales which are good; (2) the public schools which claim to pay the govt schools, but actually don't; (3) the mushroom English medium schools which pay pittance to teachers - less than what a day labourer gets!

      As the reality unfolds in India, teachers will be paid less. Simply because education has become an industry here taken over by businessmen.

      Religious people claim to do service in education sector but are doing business in fact.

  3. UGC has made it compulsory for the University Lecturers to have cleared UGC Test for Eligibility for Lecturership since 1991. This has actually improved the standard of Lectureres who would go on to become professors and so on. Earlier the qualification used to be only M.Phil or Ph D. But that did not assure quality of teaching or indepth knowledge of the subject as it was expected of these degree holders.
    Money is certainly a good factor to attract teachers. At the same time the school system should ensure through govt. policies that teachers should complete B.Ed. before joining the job or as soon as they join the job. This should be mandated. Also they should clear the relevant qualifying examination for the respective post after completing it. Only then the higher pay should be assured. Money and Quality - both are equally important. Why should money be ignored when the students learning computer at school and entering IT degree get handsome salary at the software companies? Why should it be ignored when the coaching institutes get huge amount even when they do so less than teachers by focussing only on their intensive learning but not on the overall growth of the students?

    This is my reply to P Raghavan.

    1. Wings,
      I don't know whether Prasanna will answer you.

      I want to say this: I qualified NET (the UGC Test that you mention) and worked as a lecturer in a college. I left the job when I found the place and the job didn't satisfy my personal needs. Now as a school teacher, I want to quit the job again. I'm on the lookout for a new job. A job that does not demand qualification but quality. QUALITY is what matters, I think, in any job.

      I'm just wondering why our administrators never understand that.

  4. Hi,

    A post with many valid points coming to the fore on multiple fronts.
    I do agree, that the profession of a Teacher is under serious risk due to the dwindling number of people opting for it.
    The fact about money is sad but quite true. But I bring to your notice that it we humans ourselves who are to be blamed. The monetary system was strictly invented to replace the barter system which humans indulged in during the earlier days. Money is not be seen as materialistic, only as a means of exchange. I must remind the readers that we do NOT carry our wealth or possessions with us when we die. So money and titles should not have an effect on us.
    It is the work we do that should matter. If a person as a teacher or as a doctor can achieve something of greater use to the society, that is a better goal than to achieve $1 million or $5 million.
    The teaching profession should set an outstanding example of what one can give back to society. After all, students do look up to their teachers as a role model as well.


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    1. Dear Jay, I can work for no remuneration. Can the system ensure my safety, security, at least my basic needs?

    2. Yes Sir, you're quite right, needs have to be met and bills have to be payed.
      However, in my opinion, remuneration should not be mixed with other aspects. My only fear is that money is becoming a mandatory concern for many people in society.
      Referring to one of your previous posts, I feel the education level is degrading, at least in our country. A teacher has an important role to play in that. We're not even preparing the children for life, we're only making mechanical robots who would fail if they are not provided adequate instructions. Instead of hearing news children being beaten or scolded, the student's mind should be provoked into action, right there in the class itself.


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    3. Dear Jay,
      the media report the unsavoury side of reality. The good things don't make news! There are a lot of good teachers too in this world. Even in India. When they don't get the kind of encouragement they deserve, the profession itself gets beaten.

  5. Then let the whole society settle on the issue. The younger generation look up at seniors for their role model. Let the actors and doctors get as much as the teachers earn. Am I right Jay?

    1. Wings,
      I detest the whole idea of role models. It is an invention of mediocre people who want to keep the intellectuals at bay.

    2. I am also of the same notion that role models are the choice of mediocre people. My answer was focussed only on Jay's point of money as less important for teachers.

  6. I would like to simply quote Batman from the movie Batman Begins,
    "It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me."


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    1. Yeab, Jay. Absolutely right. What I do defines me. But who cares to see what I do really except the few individuals who are benefited here and now?

  7. "Why doesn’t even the Hindu understand that basic fact?", this line of yours brought me here.

    Why Hindu editorial, I read almost everyday editorial from The Times of India and The Economic Times, they are misguiding, trivial and sycophantic.

    Long back 25 years around, when I was in college, people used to tell me that editorial day after day conveys about the direction of intellectual property oft eh country. Today I feel it is not so. Editorial cheats us day after day and gives us wrong direction. Editorial is written without enough knowledge and understanding of the topic.

    I agree with your views - teachers are parents outside home for children. Its a challenge as well as responsibility and nation must accept this great responsibility of teachers and give them its due.

    Teachers must be given maximum what a nation owes to any other profession.

    1. Kamekish, I know you for your ultra-realistic views. This comment of yours is yet another example of that.

      My understanding is that editorial policies are changing drastically even with the Hindu. Even with the Hindu is my problem. Because the Hindu used to stand by certain basic principles which they are now loosing.

      I've stopped subscribing to their magazine Frontline simply because of that reason. The magazine has switched side. I may stop subscribing to the newspaper too.

      By the way, thanks for telling us that teachers need be paid decently.

  8. Agreed. Teachers need to be paid well. I see only the administration making money by providing good landscaped buildings,and labs, but are not paying the teachers who looks after the students day in and out.

    But, the govt. School teachers who are paid well, do not care for those poor kids. I have seen first hand how they treat them and ignore them!!! Sad.

    1. My dear Pattu, a principal of a public school today gets nothing less than one lakh rupees provided he can get teachers to work for Rs10,000! That's what administration is now. Give less to the workers and earn the profit for yourself or your corporation - or your religion, organisation...

      I agree with you totally that the govt school teachers are paid well. And they don't do their job!

  9. I am not so sure that the "gurukul" system could have been as idyllic as you imply. It may have been good in getting knowledge transmitted through generations. But, how was it in exploring, creating new ideas? I believe that such advances would have been outside of the system, by individuals who later founded their own "gurukuls". This is the "essential tension" that Thomas Kuhn mentions as regards sustaining the enterprise of science.

    Coming to the issue at hand, it is not just education that is suffering at the hands of the increase in money supply in the economy. Just about twenty years ago, my field, Civil Engineering had no takers, none at all. Everyone was migrating to the then glamorous IT. Now, society is paying for it. The country is unable to absorb the investments planned in infrastructure. There are not enough and qualified engineers in fields like civil, mechanical, electrical engineers. Absolute truth!

    There may be a correlation between educational attainment and earning potential, but no causation has ever been established. Then, why would society, working exclusively through MS Excel sheets, pay teachers anything more than the minimum they can get away with?


    1. You have indeed touched a crucial topic. Education has become the ATM for many who think its a safe business with huge income. The thought of providing standard education and having competent teachers who are also well paid is out of their mind. Their primary intention is to make hay while the sun shines and many a parent are caught in this web. The homework, projects etc. are done by the parents.

      The Ministry of Education or those responsible at the Center and the State level should have a hold on these matters but unfortunately it is left to the whims and fancies for Tom, Dick and Harry to run educational institutions.

    2. Yes, Raghuram, a society that works through Excel worksheets won't pay teachers unless the teachers can go beyond those worksheets. This is the main tragedy that has befallen the teaching profession. And why? That's what I'm asking. The reason: people who are capable of going beyond the Excel worksheets are not attracted to the profession because of the wages.

      I mentioned the gurukul in that context. In the ancient gurukul the best two students were retained as teachers because the best were to be teachers. The rest were sent out to do whatever they wanted to do.

      But the teachers were playing a game, I know. That's what you imply, I suppose.

    3. Fayaz, your comment got caught in between.

      The govt has to do something about it, really.

      The problem lies precisely there. The whole population problem of India can be controlled if the govt of India takes a serious decision about the education sector, I assure you.

  10. Hi Matheikal

    Teaching is a profession that needs a passion and a real concern for the welfare of the students...Unfortunately as you said there are very few with such qualities and most of them run after money......Atleast after accepting the money if they are dedicated it would help....

    1. Jaish, teaching is the best profession if you ask my personal opinion. Where else can an individual keep him/herself young meeting young people all the time? Sharing the latest ideas? And yet, this is the most devalued profession today. That's what I'm lamenting.

  11. Hi Tom,
    Its really heartening to read so many viewpoints on this issue.I ve during my education met really inspiring great teachers who may or may not have accumulated wealth, but for sure they have earned a lot of respect.Making any profession coveted is to ensure it gets the right kind of recognition (not just monetary but recognition from the management and government).. Also there is a wave of change resonating slowly in the younger generation through programs like 'Teach for India', MAD etc. Also after a challenging career many turn to teaching to share their knowledge and their passion with young minds.Haven't all of us had some excellent teachers during our schooling?In no profession would we find 100% quality individuals, but the effort put in by them to improve matters more!
    Thanks 4 d editorial link.


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