When teachers burn midnight oil for students’ welfare
Menuse-O Max Khieya
Kohima, Sep. 4 (EMN): Despite bearing brunt of the pandemic, private school teachers have been burning the midnight oil to cater to the needs of students.
As the country remembers teachers on the occasion of Teachers’ Day, Eastern Mirror reached out to some educators in the state to learn about their challenges and determination towards providing quality service in nurturing the young minds despite their plight.
A senior private school teacher in Kohima stated that despite the pandemic playing spoilsport, the situation had placed the teachers, especially from the private schools into ‘a better life’ in terms of capacities, efforts and distance they could go in order to ensure the continuity of learning.’
“Ever since the lockdown was enforced, we have seen teachers making transition with whatever little knowledge they have, and today they are placed in a better position as to how they should be handling social media platforms to conduct online mode of education during the pandemic,” said the senior teacher who wished not to be named.
“The teachers have thus come far because of pure interest and responsibility that has been entrusted to them to carry out the education of the children whatever be the situation. That genuine concern from the part of the private teachers had really brought them to a better position today,” he shared.
However, he also acknowledged that a majority of teachers were not techno-savvy although most of them use electronic gadgets like mobile phones, and so they had to learn on their own to reach out to the students.
“In some cases, some schools may have given their teachers some orientation to conduct online classes in order that they do not starve the children of the knowledge,” he said.
Acknowledging that there were salary issues in private schools, he said different schools had different set-up, fee structures, administration and enrolment.
‘However, as private teachers, it is not the salary that has been the focus for us but our commitment towards the welfare of the students which has driven us to the point where we are today in spite of all the difficulties,’ he said.
He also narrated how teachers underwent difficult situations to communicate with the parents in order to reach out to their children during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
However, he affirmed that this has not been a discouragement for them “but the teachers have gone beyond to perform their duties.”
While Teachers’ Day is celebrated once a year, he expressed hope that this year, the teachers had gained a better place in the hearts of the public which needs “to be realised and recognised by everyone in the society.”
“We don’t look for expectations but we continue to do what we are asked to do towards educating the children,” he said, adding, “The schools are shut but the learning continues”.
While many teachers are struggling to handle social media, the online mode of education and webinars have been very new to the teachers, he said. Nevertheless, he said the teachers have taken the new tool as a responsibility while learning on their own with whatever they have to continue to give their best.
“When we falter, it should be taken positively and not as weakness or drawback of the teachers that they are not performing well,” he said, referring to negative comments meted out to them from various corners during the unprecedented period.
“In Nagaland, private school teachers play a very important role not just in the part of education but in reaching out to every child in whatever way is possible,” he said. “Therefore, the society need to understand the human nature of making mistake or falter,” he added.
“When we hear others addressing us as teachers, it brings smiles to our faces. Teaching is a challenging job because we are moulding the future generation. A teacher is a role model to their students,” said Kekhriesezonuo Semou, another private school teacher from Kohima.
Though she was appreciative of those private institutions that have attractive increment for the salaries of teachers, majority of the salary of private teachers are meagre in Nagaland despite their workload being “heavy”, she shared.
She said that it is not justified to pay someone working for seven hours a day and 42 hours a week to survive on a pay scale of INR 6000-8000 with only an increment of INR 200 a year.
“We say it’s the most respectable job but what do we say about our salary? Will it suffice our daily necessities? What about the family they support?,” she asked.
She also shared that while some of them could maintain their livelihood with the support of their parents despite their salaries being cut down, many teachers who have families are facing untold miseries silently.
Semou reiterated that despite private schools producing some of the best students over the years, salaries of the private teachers hardly meet even their basic needs.
“Life has become hard for many private teachers since the pandemic hit us,” she sighed.
Acknowledging how they were coping with online classes, “which is a very new thing to all,” she shared how salaries of many private school teachers were cut down.
While some of the teachers were new to modern technologies, she shared how teachers faced criticisms even while conducting virtual teaching.
“We don’t feel comfortable as the parents stay with their kids during online classes,” Semou said.
Stating that classroom environment was very different from online classes, she mentioned about the problem to detect whether the kids were learning or not. “When questions were being asked and assignments were being given out, many parents/guardians do the work meant for their kids,” she shared.
Citing how teachers faced stiff criticisms for not being able to conduct the online classes due to network problems, she reminded that they were not technicians and that one should not expect them to provide “the best network when we all know the conditions of network in Nagaland.”
The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic had shocked and confused everyone according to Catherine Humtsoe, a teacher from another private school in Dimapur.
She also narrated how shifting of classroom teaching to virtual classes was “very challenging”.
“Teachers and students have to adapt to virtual learning which is not possible to everyone,” she said.
“This pandemic has affected everyone from the parents, students to the teachers,” she said. ‘The parents couldn’t clear the school fees of their ward on one hand while the teachers aren’t paid on time on the other hand,’ she stated.
“During the unprecedented times, basic livelihood and lives were at stack, while education took a back seat,” she said.
“Learning can take place in any form but the teacher-student emotional attachment is missing. To give emotional love and care to a child is very important in bringing up a child, however pandemic is messing this,” said Y Thungben Kinghen from Don Bosco Higher Secondary School in Wokha.
“The students are missing to learn social etiquette. In groups they learn how to behave, their characters are shaped, manners, etc. To learn all these, they need to be in a group or in a gathering. Pandemic is ruining this aspect too,” he added.
“Due to lack of audience, those with talents cannot show. It is rather discouraging because students cannot build up their confidence,” he asserted.
“As a teacher, I feel very sorry for the students because they are in their formative stage in their life. I feel like the school must reopen at the earliest,” Kinghen said.
This newspaper also reached out to Ronojyoti Roy from Queen Mary Higher Secondary School in Mokokchung, one of the teacher awardees this year to learn what keeps him going as a teacher.
“My stint as a teacher spans more than three decades. I got into this profession (way back in 1987) when I was young and raw, but enthusiastic and with dreams in my eyes,” he shared.
“During the course of my tenure, there have been umpteen challenges — noisy classrooms, occasional disobedience from unruly pupils, inability to get my ideas across to my students, not being able to provide adequate facilities, misunderstanding etc.,” he narrated.
“Despite all these challenges, I love the innocence, curiosity and the eagerness to learn in my students. I feel truly blessed that I have received so much love and respect from them over the years,” Roy shared.
“I’ve seen so many of my students blossom into their true potential and making their mark in life. My heart swells with pride when I see my students excelling in their chosen fields.
This is my greatest satisfaction as a teacher,” the awardee said.