Published: 21st March 2021
Welcome to Reason: Did the Coronavirus 'expose' our teachers?
The elite school managements played their trump card by getting school teachers on the road in a massive demonstration against the government’s fee-cut diktat
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit
- John Steinbeck (1902-1968), American author and 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner
Elite private schools, often sporting the word ‘International’ as a prefix to their names, have a predominance of well-groomed teachers operating in a cocoon and class of their own. Their comfortable career and protected lifestyle were disrupted and exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic for the better part of 2020 and normalcy is yet to be restored. In the meantime, some of the teachers lost their jobs and others had to accept cuts in their premium salaries and perks or risk unemployment.
A new element entered the scene in Karnataka, for instance, with an agitation calling for a cut in school fees on the grounds that when schools were closed and online classes came on the scene, the school infrastructure was not used by the students. This was accepted by the government – the arbitrator in this case – which ruled that the school managements should reduce fees by 30% for the current academic year. The elite school managements played their trump card by getting school teachers on the road in a massive demonstration against the government’s fee-cut diktat. Before coming to the teachers’ ‘exposure’ involved in this, an earlier ‘exposure’ concerning the online instructions is chronologically the first in order.
One should start with a bit of background. The online classes were an emergency exigency and involved the setting up of online equipment in the restricted space of urban residences. Unlike in the classrooms where the teacher was the boss of all she surveyed, at the home-end, under the online class regime, they had no control at the receiving end. In many cases, home members became judges and juries with respect to teachers who were new to the online regime.
The second ‘exposure’ concerns teachers joining the management against students and their parents. Ultimately, theirs is the hand that feeds the teachers whereas school owners are only intermediaries. To this extent, teachers have surrendered their moral high ground or been bullied by management, to be pawns in the money-grabbing game.