Published: 06th February 2019
Never expected a transfer: Why students broke down when this Tirupur Govt School teacher was shunted out for protesting
Several teachers in the state have been receiving transfer orders because they participated in the wide-spread protests
The Tamil Nadu government is transferring many of the teachers who participated in the JACTTO-GEO protests. Through this move though, the government is not just 'punishing' the teachers but their students too. This was evident through a photo published in The New Indian Express that had captured a crying Suresh E, a government school teacher from Tirupur surrounded by his weeping students.
When his students came to know of Suresh's transfer, one of them snatched his phone, the other took away his bike keys and another even took away his shoes. This might seem childish, but they are children and they are trying to hold on to someone they clearly love and admire. "I'm not sure how they came to know of the transfer but children are so sharp these days," Suresh said. The reason his students are so attached to him is not just because he is an excellent teacher but the fact that he not only maintained a relationship with his students inside the class but also made the effort to get to know their parents and their lives outside those four walls.
Which is probably why the parents rushed to the school that day too. They remained on campus till 5.30pm that day trying to convince Suresh to fight against the transfer order. "The parents kept worrying, asking who would take care of their children now. They are insistent that I not accept the transfer," the 38-year-old teacher said. The Mathematics teacher has been teaching at the Velliyankadu Corporation Middle School at Thennapalayam Colony for the last ten years. Right now, he's in a state of confusion. Should he listen to his students or the government?
Popular Teacher: Suresh E has been teaching for the last 15 years and says he loves his job
The decision to participate in the protests was not taken expecting such a result. Obviously. "The teachers' associations had decided to go on this protest and advised us to do so also. We had no intention of creating a situation that would adversely affect the students. That would never be a teacher's intention. However, the situation became more grave," the Math teacher said. Last time such a protest took place, the court had asked them to withdraw, Suresh recalled. This time though, the government remained silent about the teacher's demands.
Suresh has been teaching for the last 15 years and so we ask him if he has ever received a fair salary, "No one can fix the salary of a good teacher. Some might not mind working for small amounts, some may think they deserve more. But asking or not asking for a higher pay doesn't make a teacher bad or good. At the end of the day, we all just want to do our jobs."
But the salary has not affected Suresh in any way, he has enjoyed every second of his life as a teacher, he says. Interestingly, Suresh never really wanted to become a teacher, it was his father's dream for him though. His own teacher and mentor, Nanjappan is the one Suresh aspired to be like, "I've always wanted to my students to stand apart. I always ensured that every student of mine did something incredible with their lives," he said with pride.
Outside Four Walls: Suresh also made it a point to establish a relationship with the parents of his students
Suresh did not even have the slightest feeling that he could be transferred for his participation in the protest. "I thought that there might be an inquiry but a transfer, I did not expect that at all. I was in complete shock when I heard and it broke my heart. But I think in 5-6 days I should be able to recover," he added. He says he knows he will soon adapt to the new school and the students but his present students' crying faces continue to haunt him. "It is like how marriage is for a girl. You go with hopes but it also means that you're leaving your home and your family. It's never easy. But this is my job and I have to do it," he says with sadness.
When asked about the expectations he has about the new school, Suresh says he doesn't have any. "But I did have plans for this school, I had a roadmap of sorts and I wanted to do a lot here but I'm sure the students in the new school will inspire me. The more students I'm able to impact, the better," he believes.
So far, 17 teachers from Tirupur have received their transfer orders. Suresh is still on leave, so he hasn't physically received his orders yet. But says that it is a confusing time for all of them. "I'm in a dilemma. As I said, I don't know if I should listen to my students or to the government. I'm not sure if there is a chance that they will cancel the order either. I realise that I have a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders, but I'm still uncertain of my next move," he explained.