We all remember that one teacher who left an indelible mark on our lives. We would perhaps not be who we are today if it wasn’t for dedicated and passionate teachers.

Do you remember being asked, ‘What do you wish to be when you grow up?’ Our answers would invariably be ‘Astronaut,’ ‘Doctor,’ ‘Cricketer,’ etc. Whatever we eventually choose to become, it is an army of teachers that lead us along the path we choose for ourselves. In Indian society, a teacher is considered to be of utmost importance, even more, significant than God himself. Then why is a career in always teaching an afterthought? It is either a backup plan or an easy career option for most students for those who don’t wish to work long hours.

Our most valuable resource is not oil or gold. It is our children who possess unlimited potential in every sense. For them to flourish, we need good teachers in every corner of the country. However, this is not possible with the current condition of the education sector. Talented individuals avoid teaching as a profession. Here’s why:

Low Remuneration

It is no secret that teaching is not a well-paid profession. Despite a severe deficit of teachers in the country, they continue to be underpaid and overworked. Even in schools that charge exorbitant fees from parents, the funds do not necessarily reach the teachers who are the education system’s backbone. The education industry has been infiltrated by real estate developers and politicians who do not necessarily know what a good education entails. Thus they treat their teachers as expendable.

Another contributing factor is that about 90% of teachers are women. It is believed that women do not need to be paid as much as their income is secondary to their husbands’. Thus, teachers continue to get low salaries compared to other professions.

Respect

One might find it highly surprising that teaching is one of the least respected professions in India. While we theoretically hold teachers in high esteem, the ground reality is quite different. People believe that since their workday ends in the afternoon, teachers don’t work as much as others. But a teacher’s workday does not end after they go home! With tests and assignments to grade and lesson plans to design, teachers actually have a very poor work-life balance. Even Teacher’s day, a day set aside to honor and celebrate teachers, has turned into more of an occasion to dress up for the students rather than a day for teachers.

We only hope that distance learning in the COVID era has made parents realize the importance and contribution of teachers in children’s lives.

Professional Development

A good teacher is one who never stops learning. But once they start working, teachers have no time to develop, improve, or add to their skills. Schools do not invest in their teachers’ development. Being overworked and underpaid as they are, they do not have the time or resources to seek out skill enhancement for themselves.

The teachers themselves are products of the same education system they try to reform. To unlearn the old system and create new ones, they need the administration’s support and motivation.

Even when they come up with new teaching methods and pedagogies, they are met with reprimands from the higher authorities. To top it off, they are not even consulted about the curriculum they are expected to teach. Yet, we expect teachers to revolutionize the education industry when they have no say in how the system functions.

What we can do:

It is quite obvious that we need serious reforms for teachers if we want to ensure a bright future for our children. We can look towards Finland- a trailblazer in the education sector as a source of inspiration.

High-Quality Teacher Education

Teaching is a highly respected and attractive profession in Finland. Only about 10% of applicants are accepted to teacher training programs.

It takes about 5-6 years to become a teacher in Finland. They are required to have a Masters’s degree that includes pedagogical studies and teaching experience as well. In addition to learning and teaching methodologies, they also receive education in social, ethical, and moral skills.

Autonomy

Teachers have a high level of autonomy in their classrooms. They develop their teaching methods, choose their teaching materials, and decide their form of assessment. They are allowed and encouraged to experiment in the school. Viikki teacher training school in Helsinki describes itself as a ‘laboratory for student teachers. ‘ Teachers also have a say in the development of the Finnish Education System on a national level.

The high-quality training that teachers receive prepares them to use this freedom creatively and efficiently.

Fair Salary

Teachers are paid a competitive salary in Finland. In fact, in most of Europe, teachers are paid fair wages that come with many benefits. This has made teaching a highly prized profession, which attracts a lot of competition, thereby raising education.

As they are paid well, their place in society and their profession’s importance is generally acknowledged in society. They are as respected as doctors or scientists in the community.

The Finnish school year comprises of about 190 days, and there is little or no homework. Therefore, the teachers enjoy an excellent work-life balance, which increases their productivity and gives them time and resources to improve their skills.

These methods work, as Finland remains a world leader in the education sector. Thus, with a system based on this model, we could ensure no limit to our children’s dreams. Both students and teachers would have a chance to flourish and excel in their chosen paths.

Also Read: What is Real Education & Why is getting an education important for every child?