Guruji, Kahan Hain
It has been fifteen years since he took a class in his subject. No, he did not bunk it. In 1998, as block education officer he chose to become a manager as envisaged in the evolving institutional architecture. From a routine school work, he shifted focus on collecting information, disseminating instructions, organizing training, and planning the education development of the block! Sounds interesting! Alas, the change in course curriculum in 2005-06 has not concerned him as he is very much comfortable in this role that offers freedom in mobility, safety from classroom teaching, and closeness to politics (of running the system). He is gradually becoming a role model for good number of teachers to bunk the school and become the manager.
Teaching is a noble profession, but it is demanding and accountable as (s)he must face the students. There is no escape route. A teacher in India don’s many hats: besides teaching he conducts all elections (local bodies, parliament and assembly); census, surveys the socio-economic conditions; protocol, and so on. While selecting a teacher, the recruitment agency does not even provide a hint of the tasks awaiting in the field. Within the education sector, the activities have increased manifold because of at least three reasons: first, the expansion of centrally guided school education; second, the change in the orientation of the welfare state; and third, the aspirations of the population. It has led to transfer of resources of various forms at the level of school. This decentralization has not been matched by the evolving democratic institutions which, along with the perceived mistrust in the chain of command, have necessitated the emergence of education managers in large numbers- block education officers, SSA coordinator, RMSA coordinator and so on. There has not been well thought out strategies to man these challenging posts- no expertise.
Inspection of schools is a specialised job and certainly it is not identical to teaching in a class. This managerial aspect, unfortunately, has not evolved beyond some stereotype training. Poor supervision, monitoring, and intervention are quite evident in the dismal performance of the schools. Allowing a teacher to get into the shoes of manager without structural improvement in the capacity building of eligible teachers is neither fair for the system nor it does justice to the teacher him(her)self. Ironically the continuance of current arrangement causes more harm to the dire need of availability of teachers in the school first. Innovative ways of handling the activities of inspection, training, planning must evolve. Use of Information Technology can work as effective tool, but the constraints may not help in connecting the last mile. Alternative approach can be to engage the Deputy Commissioners, who must take the mantle of continuous monitoring of education in the district in structured manner. Goals must be set. Follow up act is often the most difficult task because of poor record management.
Education sector must work to create a system of capable education managers. Their roles are to work as positive facilitators and to act as bridge between the school and the system for better outcome. Sooner it happens better for the education and the teacher!
(it was published on 5/9/2014 in Arunachal Front newspaper)