This pandemic has made us respect teachers and the profession…

Shukla Bose
4 min readSep 5, 2020

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan the second President of India was more of a teacher and scholar than a politician. He brought respect to the teaching profession with his immense knowledge, his passion for teaching, and his ability to inspire students. It is for that reason that even to this day, his birthday, the 5th of September, is remembered as the nation’s Teachers’ Day. Over the decades that have followed, there has been great erosion to that pride in the profession for various reasons. Although Dr. Radhakrishnan wanted “Teachers should be the best minds in the country”, sadly, in the years that followed, teaching has become a profession of convenience and a last resort for those that failed to acquire any other job that paid more or had better social status. This lack of respect for teachers and the teaching profession has been one of the primary reasons why our education system is in the state of such disrepair. It is also one of the main reasons why more than 50% of students drop out by the time they reach the secondary level and even those that graduate only 47% of them are employable.

The quality of the teacher makes for the quality of the school and the quality of teacher education can be a status check on the entire schooling system. Teachers remain at the heart of the issue that converts teaching into learning and information into knowledge. The learning crisis is evident in the fact that almost half of the children in grade 5 in government schools cannot solve a simple two-digit subtraction problem and read a full sentence even in their mother tongue. The question here is, why are there 60% vacancies of teaching positions in most states with only 1 teacher in nearly I lakh schools when there are 17,000 Teacher Education Institutes that could generate over 19 lakh freshly trained teachers every year as against the estimated annual requirement of 3 lakh teachers? And why is that of those teachers that $180 billion education sector graduate, only 25% pass the government teacher eligibility tests to be appointed as teachers? And even those that get appointed severely lack the most important ingredient of a teacher, the love for teaching and children?

In the past, the government has responded to this reality, and media criticism by increasing the velocity of teacher training. More than 42 lakh teachers and principals of primary and elementary government schools across the country have undergone several days of training programs to learn innovative teaching methods, the use of art, and technology in the classroom. But the government has done nothing to instill trust in the teachers and ignite their pride in their chosen profession.

It took a pandemic to make the world look at and experience life from a different perspective. The Covid19 phenomena we are going through has opened our eyes in many ways. We have realized how fragile our public health care system is. We have also realized that we have not taken adequate care of the public distribution system to include benefits to the migrant labourers. Another thing we have realized is how important a proactive school is to keep our children engaged and how indebted we ought to be to teachers for sharing our parental responsibilities.

While debates over whether online classes are good for children or not carries on, we have seen amazing cases of teachers rising to the occasion and getting on with teaching in the best way they can. There are stories of teachers actually going to the slums and teaching a few children at a time. Thousands of teachers have made the effort to learn technology and are running online classes while managing their own children from the kitchen. Stories of teachers teaching from autos and rooftops with better internet connectivity are also coming in. We also hear how teachers are collaborating together to make a lesson interesting to ensure that the students stay online. For the first time, parents are actually seeing the teachers at work and have begun to empathise and acknowledge their patience and grit to teach. This pandemic is forcing the teachers to move out of rote teaching and become creative and imaginative to keep their students engaged. We need to applaud the effort the teachers are making to reimagine the delivery of their lesson, continuing to teach in an alien environment. We need to feel proud of them for their drive and energy and their desire to help our children. We hope that those children who are benefitting from their teacher’s online lessons will share that sense of pride and want to become teachers like them. It is only then that the education system will transform. I have always held the opinion that once all politicians send their children to vernacular medium schools and all government school-teachers send their children to government schools, only then will our mass public school system improve.

According to the UN Secretary-General, the current COVID19 crisis has pushed more than 1.52 billion students to stay out of schools in nearly 166 countries. India has one of the world’s largest education systems covering nearly 300 million students at 1.4 million schools and 51,000 colleges. While technology is playing a significant role, it is the teachers that deliver the lessons through technology. They need to be invested in. They need to be given the confidence that they are important in this $180 billion education sector since they are the custodians of the world’s largest and youngest population.

It is great that NEP 2020 recognises the need to increase the accountability of the teachers in public schools. But this visionary policy will remain just a document unless we encourage the teachers to follow through. And that begins by giving them respect.

Let us remember Dr. Radhakrishnan’s words, “It takes centuries to make a little history; it takes centuries of history to make a tradition.” We can begin that tradition of respect today.



Shukla Bose

Founder @parikrma. Interested in child development, women empowerment, education transformation & impact dynamics. RTs not endorsements