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Problems faced by Indian teachers in the classroom and outside

Problems faced by Indian teachers

Each year as India celebrates Teacher’s day with fanfare and epiphany by glorifying this noble profession with expressions of gratitude, I simply wonder why this admiration dies down for the rest of the year.

Poet Kabir narrated the importance of teachers in his couplet:

Guru gobind dou khade, kaake lagoon pay. Balihari guru aapne gobind diyo batay

(Guru and God both are here to whom should I first bow? All glory be unto the guru, path to God who did bestow).

Unfortunately these gurus have become the scapegoat for all lacunas that our education system is plagued with. This brings to an important question as to why teachers are not respected in India and what daily battles they wage for survival irrespective of whether they are working in a government school or an international curriculum school.

As a teacher these are my reflections to this question based on my personal experience and my interaction with my colleagues.

Problems and challenges faced by Indian teachers in the classroom and outside


Professional status of teaching

Teaching is not considered as one of the most sought after career in India; hence the primary challenge is to raise the status of teaching as a career choice. This stems from the general perception that people harbor about this profession which is, that anyone can become a teacher as it takes minimal skill and is nothing but glorified baby–sitting.

Well, to some extent it is true as a non competitive teacher really has minimal skills whereas a good teacher has leadership skills which can even challenge a senior manager of a company. This status can also be attributed by our hiring process in B.Ed programs.

Professor Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) states that the top performing countries in PISA test like Finland, Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong consistently attract top 30 per cent of school leavers.

In fact in South Korea and Finland teachers are selected from the top 10 per cent which means in such countries competition for entry to teacher education program is intense. Only one in 10 applicants is accepted to study to become a primary teacher in Finland.

This shows the respect that teachers possess in these countries as only the best and the brightest of the lot are in this profession, naturally conferring it to be one of the most highly regarded professions.

In India this tradition of hiring the best is practiced by Teach for India, Gandhi fellowship etc by recruiting the best college graduates or even corporate honchos with exemplary leadership skills as teaching fellows in their fellowship programme.

In my social circle whenever I mention my profession, my friends respect me not because of my profession but because I chose to be a teacher instead of what my fancy college degree expected me to become. My degree made me a good teacher by default.

This I feel is the greatest disrespect to the profession and to all those teachers out there who are there by choice and are doing a great job. The day when everyone understands that a good teacher is one who is not only a fountain of knowledge but also an agent of change and leader, would lead to a breakthrough in this existing perception.

Financial compensation

As mentioned in my previous article teaching is one of the most underpaid jobs barring some schools which strictly adhere to pay commission of scales. Even appreciation in form of financial incentive is not a very popular culture.

These problems are not restricted to government or low cost private schools but also to posh international schools were the average annual fee structure of a student ranges from Rs.6 Lakhs to 10 Lakhs. The school management and board of directors mostly prefer cheap labour.

Again this is because of the low professional status of teachers in our society. The teaching profession is dominated by women and we see very less men who prefer being a teacher. Women are not considered as the primary breadwinner of a family and hence their compensation is abysmally poor compared to the fee structure that these international school charge.

The biggest irony lies in the fact that these schools celebrate Women’s day with great pomp and splendor even though more than 90% of the women workforce in these schools are financially dependent on their husband for expenditure like car loan, education loan etc as their salary is almost one tenth of what their husbands earn in MNC. The school salary is just like pocket money for them.

It’s high time that teachers need to value their self esteem and take control of their situation rather than contributing to this vicious circle. One should always update their networking skills to be placed in the best of the organization rather than compromising on self respect and injustice.

Commercialisation of education

The general Indian mentality believes that privatization is the solution to everything dysfunctional in our country. This public perception stems from the status quo that an Indian family enjoys when they send their children to these ‘Modern temples of education’ which have air conditioned classrooms, buses and infrastructure equivalent to a five star resort like tennis court, swimming pool etc.

It gives immense pride to parents and an opportunity for them to gloat about the fact that their children go to school where students are well dressed, their classmates come from the elite strata of the society and most important they are ‘English medium schools’.

So how do these superficial markers affect teachers?

Most of these elite private schools are established by real estate developers or politicians who do not have an iota of idea what education is all about. For them education is nothing but a means to amass a huge fortune.

They forget the golden lines of Padma Shri Dr. D.B Pathak who said:

Education should not be a business but it should be run like a business.

Goddess Lakshmi is more venerated as compared to Goddess Saraswati which means these schools are open to year round admissions whose parents pass the merit of possessing a hefty bank balance. Entrance test are generally not conducted and academic merit is not the driving factor for admission.

The responsibility falls on teachers to churn the best out of the non performing students and it is their responsibility to raise a student’s performance and to equate it with the rest of the class if the student joined the school in the fag end of the academic year.

Most of all, VIP treatment and excessive molly cuddling is expected from a teacher which also includes malpractices like promoting students even when they have failed in major academic subjects to retain admissions and prevent financial loss. This is really detrimental to a teacher’s moral who believes and practices idealism, honesty and fair practice.

Lack of motivation and support

Teachers don’t have a voice and have no say about educational policy. The concept of motivated teacher is also a flawed one because most of them feel that a motivated teacher is one who is regular to school every day, follows official protocols blindly without questioning and if necessary provide information that management team wants!

The real focus shifts from student learning outcomes to complying orders as fount fit by the administrative department relegating teachers to a mere stature of puppets who have no voice.

Ms. Seema Bansal of Boston Consulting Group mentioned in TED Talk that one of the issues faced by teachers in Haryana is not that they are incompetent but they were expected by supervisors to supervise the construction of classrooms, toilet, mid day meal or depositing scholarship money in students account etc.

Hence teachers were in schools but not in classrooms. The same can be extrapolated to private schools where a lot of instructional time is lost to rehearse high profile school events like annual day, sports day etc and with the time that is left over teachers are expected to finish the curriculum with finesse.

By the way an important observation, in all these high profile events the chief guests generally happens to be a politician, sport star or someone glamorous who holds a position of power. I still need to come across school functions who have invited prominent educationists or senior teachers in these school functions.

As teachers have to comply rather than pitching in their ideas, the whole process seems like a mundane task leading to disheartened and demotivated teachers. The issue of teacher motivation also lies in the labyrinth of our complex education system where steep growth rate in student enrolment has not kept in pace with growth rate in number of teachers.

To cope up with this teachers end up teaching a class of say 40 to 80 students in government schools. Of course, international schools can boast about a harmonious teacher student ratio, not because they really care about healthy student – teacher ratio but because the vast majority of Indian population cannot afford the overpriced fee structure.

Sometimes teachers are thrust with grades and subjects that a teacher is not equipped to handle or interested to teach. Most of all the blame game that teachers have to suffer when management and even parents question them if a student’s result is not up to the mark, even though the results are based on an archaic examination system which stresses importance on textbook learning with little to no scope of critical thinking.

Hence teachers are not motivated because they are not empowered and there is no support for them.

Professional development and teacher’s needs

Education sector is a very dynamic industry. A good teacher needs to be constantly updated with the best practices practiced across the world. This means reevaluating and reflecting one’s pedagogical skills by adopting rigorous study, practice and self – improvement.

The high performing countries keep professional development and training as the top most priority and they conduct in-house trainings every month in addition to regular classroom observations and feedback by peers and line managers.

Observation is considered as an instrument of development by scaffolding and developing the teachers and not as a weapon to terminate their services which nowadays schools are adept in doing.

Unfortunately professional development and R&D cell in these elite private schools is starkly absent and even if there are such workshops they are numbered to say 10 or 15 PD sessions per year, leaving teachers unequipped to manage the rapidly changing milieu of education section.

Very few schools like Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad, Indus school Bangalore, TISB etc have their in-house professional development cell.

At the end of the day a teacher is just a human being who herself has studied in the same dysfunctional system which means most of her teaching practices stems from the belief and experiences acquired during her school days.

To change or even transform her belief system requires redesigning of professional development modules to a cutting age quality.

For example, after the implementation of RTE (Right to education), which again many private schools have not wholeheartedly accepted, the classrooms have become more diverse and multi ethnic and multi lingual.

Teachers lack the skills to manage such diversity in class. Training programmes are designed keeping in view the situation existing in urban schools and problems faced by teachers like high teacher student ratio or multi grade teaching are hardly discussed.

An elementary school teacher attends the same training programme as that of a senior school teacher leaving no scope for differentiation and discussion on age specific issues. Most of the sessions are nothing but heavy dose of theory with zero planning to implement those ideas.

Sessions like joyful learning and student-centric learning sounds hollow to teachers who have to deal with social diversity, different levels of students and most importantly, children who belong to the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which means children who have low self-esteem as they are hungry for love and a sense of belonging.

In general there is no subject specific training for multi grade situations as most training programmes focus on generic skills. Hence there is a complete mismatch between the problems faced by teachers inside the classroom and training programmes designed by administrators who have very little idea of challenges of a multi-grade class.

Even if a teacher takes the whole pain to educate herself, at the end she is supervised by department head or principal who themselves have stereotypes and mindset that are even more outdated.

For example, if a language teacher is doing a listening task then she would be questioned by her coordinator as to why there is focus on listening and speaking skills rather than writing skills.

For the coordinator it is a Eureka moment if the teacher writes something on the board and students copy them like mute sheep increasing the volume of pages filled in the notebook which is a tangible product that can be shown to parents. 

Or let’s say a Maths teacher, who wants to implement an activity that she has learned from one of the workshop session by asking the students to sing a rap while teaching statistics, would be promptly intervened by the management by scolding her in front of the students for not maintaining discipline.

Lack of intellectual liberty and academic freedom is what teachers miss in this profession and this failure of implementing something new curtails their motivation to learn, innovate and update their practices.

Finding the Holy Grail: Work life balance

As mentioned earlier teaching can be demoralizing for many reasons — demotivated students, helicopter parents, disorganized administration, lack of financial incentive, lack of prestige in our society for teachers, etc.

Add to it the fact that most teachers return back home and spend their quality personal time and weekends marking notebooks, planning lessons, grading answer scripts etc. This means by the end of the day a teacher is mentally and physically exhausted leaving neither any time to pursue a hobby nor any time to socialise with friends except to recharge themselves during summer holidays I presume.

A person who is physically and psychically drained has no time to even enjoy the little pleasures of life, forget about imagining how to upgrade one’s career skills.

If a teacher is smart enough to strike the right cord of work life balance , that teacher is branded as lazy and not hardworking as the myopic thought process of most of the coordinators make them feel that a good teacher is one who carries work at home.

I feel that teachers should consider themselves as master of their trade and not a slave of their trade. One should not forget that apart from being a teacher, one is also a member of the society as a mother, wife, girl-friend, daughter, sister and most important as a friend.

There is no secret recipe to achieve eternal bliss of work life balance. It can only be achieved by rigorous time management and making it a daily habit otherwise one should be prepared to feel burnt out which will cause frustration, helplessness and worst professional dissatisfaction.

Personal image and society’s expectations

A teacher is expected to project a ‘perfect teacher’ image. She is required to epitomize calmness and behave like a conservative moral police. Society puts this immense pressure on teachers as if their every decision, act, and word can inspire or devastate students.

So if a parent, student or God forbid the school coordinator spots a teacher having a quiet romantic dinner with her partner, then it won’t be accepted as decent behavior as per the moral code of conduct that teachers are expected to follow.

Well, one can try their luck by quoting Amol Palekar’s dialogue in Golmaal that the person in question happened to be the twin sibling, but rest assured that teacher will become the talk of the town.

Think of the curious kids that we teach. If one of them wants to write an open petition to the school authorities asking why RTE has not been implemented as per Government norms then it would boomerang the teacher for not curbing free thinking and inciting students.  

If a student fails, it is the teacher’s fault. If a student succeeds, then it is the achievement of the student alone. Teachers shoulder all the responsibility, but get little recognition or appreciation for their students’ achievement.
To conclude most of us enter this profession as a new leaf: bright and starry eyed, idealist and ready to inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Once in the profession the reality of teaching hits us, draining the passion and ‘joie de vivre’ of this noble profession.

Even if a teacher tries to maintain their grounds by shielding their students from the problems that plague our system, it seems vain as teachers have no power to solve them and become cogwheels to the entire system and even contributing to the system.

The feeling is like the first job a teenager gets in his or her favorite restaurant. Instead of eating what she loves to eat every day, she prefers not to eat it again after seeing how it was prepared.

I feel rather than finding imperfections, the choice lies in one’s hand. It is the personal choice of the teacher to find gratitude in staying with students and enjoying the heat of the classroom.

It is the choice of the teacher to find pleasure in one’s threads of work, connection with families of strangers, appreciating the craft of an educator as the rhythm of the years pass by. Above all it is the choice of the teacher to find the purpose of teaching which is to teach children not to seek the best but to seek the deepest, the most varied, the fullest, the calmest and the truest. 

When teachers would learn to appreciate their choices, battling the Goliaths would seem less overwhelming.

Read these related posts:
How to Become a School Teacher in India
Primary Education in India: Costs, Statistics, Problems

Watch this video to learn how you can become an entrepreneur at a young age

Yasmeen Hossain
About Yasmeen Hossain
Yasmeen Hossain left her banking job to become a school teacher. She shares her experiences, knowledge and views on the Indian education sector.

55 thoughts on “Problems faced by Indian teachers in the classroom and outside”

  1. critical analysis.. article shed light on poor condition of teacher and not getting help from any source.. reference of teachers in haryana is completely true..

    • Sir,
      Most of the problems stated here arise from a single issue which is feminisation of this profession. Most of my work colleagues took up this profession once they themselves became a mother. It was definitely not a career option of their choice . Keeping this point in mind , most schools exploit this situation by not paying them as commensurate to what they truly deserve. Plus the fact that a woman’s income is considered as supplementary and not the primary source of income gives these schools further reasons to not think about competitive remuneration. Hence this situation cannot be solved only via external help as this requires change in mindset. Even if we seek external help from education companies and NGO’s like Premji foundation, the grass root problem still needs to be solved. I would appreciate if you can share some of your suggestions to tackle all these issues raised.

      • i am also trying to solve the problem of students lacking understanding in the classroom, and do not have their desk or table for proper working and your article has been a good step on this side.
        if you have some data on Indian School whose have not their furniture. Please help me on this survay.
        Thanking You.

        • Hi Jagdeep,
          Thank you for liking my article and I am sorry to say I really don’t have any data to support your survey.

    • Yasmeen, my compliments for a brilliant article that is both good reading and so insightful! A depressing picture but so true! Any thoughts on the way ahead? Sam

      • Hello Sam,
        Thanks for appreciating my article.Regarding way ahead, it depends a lot on society’s mindset as well as individual belief of teachers when they start their career.If the government’s mindset as well as policies changes for good then I guess things can improve.

    • Brilliantly written this is what is happening in almost every school in India, there’s not just one state or place in the country that has these problems, schools are money making institutes as rightly said 5 star school buildings by builders and politicians, parents seek only such kind of institutions as a place of worship and study. It doesn’t matter if the school has good results or a reputation, the moment parents know that the school stands for discipline parents tend to blackmail a few teachers who stand for principles and, such teachers are never appreciated then where comes the point of setting good trends in education. Good education for such parents, managements etc is the number of pages completed in the notebook producing results by intoxicating students with revision question, revision to be done 3 weeks prior to the exam. Where comes the need for critical thinking? Competitive exams for such students from the so called affluent families and the upper strata of society are corrupt politicians who are in a position to send the answer papers home after an exam and have required answers filled in. The irony they are state and national toppers and the so called IAS, IPS, IFS doctors you name it and they have it. Where is there a merit system?This is what a country wants, not dedicated teachers, dedicated teachers are getting “extinct.” The former education minister has made education a little more meaningful as well as meaning less , as in schools volumes of notes are appreciated by parents and management, here 24 months of teachers training B.Ed without any focus or priority is thrust upon candidates. It’s the cry and the voice of all teachers who are helpless and demotivated.

      • Hello Whilhelmina,
        Thanks for appreciating my article as well as sharing your inputs. I do agree with most of the things that you have mentioned and let us hope that there is some solution to this vicious circle.

    • Well written articulating the real situation as it is nearly so in many states in India.I appreciate the fact that you seek support saying there is scope to turn it into a noble profession as it is.

  2. Excellent article, Yasmeen. Several good and valid issues. Perhaps there are some solutions beyond the teacher herself/himself: communities of practice, for example, have proved to be extremely valuable in providing teachers with the emotional, intellectual and moral support that they so desperately need.

    • Hello Deepali,
      Thank you so much for liking my article. Well there are some teacher training organisations and other skills training companies who conduct workshops and other necessary training. However I feel the solution to most of these issues lies in the individual itself. If the teacher has a clear conscience and decides to craft his/ her own life rather than being a cogwheel to this system and even contributing to its problems then I feel a lot of problems can be solved.

  3. An excellent observation. Reading it will enrich many. Thanks. But I have one doubt. Are you a feminist? Why is it written as there are only female teachers? I surely know that there are a good number of dedicated, motivated male teachers too are there. let us consider teacher as a common gender. I think when in literature usually the term ‘he’ is attributed as common gender. Let us work together to motivate the young minds. I used to say my colleagues, “A doctor can kill only a patient, but a teacher can kill a generation”. So a teacher should be such a person who can convert every class into a debate inscribing the value points into the young minds which kindles them. they should start thinking and sparking from that point and bring a new idea into the society by his own. then the life of a teacher is worth mentioning.

    • Dear Mr.Jose,
      Thank you for appreciating my article. Regarding your question whether I am a feminist or not , I can only say that I believe in equality. If that is your perception of feminism, then yes I am a feminist. I also know that there are good dedicated male teachers though very few in number as women happen to be in majority in this profession . If Dr.Manobi Bandopadhyay happens to be the first transgender principal, then I feel our country has progressed a lot. This article does not talk about the problems of women teachers but teachers in general and as far as literature is concerned I use both the words ‘he’ & ‘she’ as they represent two different gender.

  4. Hi,
    Me and my team are trying to solve the problem of students lacking understanding in the classroom, and your article has been a serendipitous moment which made me realize where the root cause may lie.

    Thanks for your insights. If possible for you I and my team would love to get your ideas and perspective in shaping our solution.

    Kindly reach out if you wish.


  5. Hello Yasmeen!
    I really appreciate your insights. This article covers most of real facts about our education system.

  6. Yasmeen,
    A very well written article depicting the truth. I too quit my banking job after the birth of my children and got passionate about the Montessori method and did the diploma and joined a Montessori school. Now, I am with a public school wanting to explore different methods of education. Between the Montessori and traditional, I feel as you rightly said, more than the method, management or any other factor, it is the teacher’s personal belief and working style that creates a difference.

    • Hello Durga,
      Glad to know that we both share a common career journey. Regarding personal belief of a teacher, it is something that I have always stressed upon. It is always better to light a candle rather than being pessimistic about the darkness around. A lot of work satisfaction depends on an educator’s style and mindset.

  7. Yasmeen,
    Thanks for your article. I think it is spot on and I agree with you on may points. As a foreign teacher working in India I have noticed many of these problems and it’s so good to know that it isn’t only me thinking about these issues. Specially when it comes to work-life balance, I think schools still have a lot to learn, and I agree that this may be one of the reasons of the lack of motivation, interest and the general moodiness of many of the teachers here. I really enjoy the read. Thanks!

    • Hello Aixa,
      Thanks for resonating with my points mentioned in this article. I would love to know the teaching culture of your country as well as how work- life balance is maintained by schools in your country.

    • Hi, Yasmeen.
      Thank you for this article. Like Aixa, I am a foreigner teaching in India, and I also feel relief that there are others noticing these dynamics within the education sector and within the schools themselves. Your words gave me a new understanding of teachers as products of the education system for which they work. The pressures are enormous and they have no allowance for creativity, autonomy, or agency. There is no space for their voices to be heard and, counter to the incredible amount of responsibilities they are given, teachers endure an immense amount of disrespect and distrust. India is an immensely beautiful country. It’s people possess the warmest hearts and shrewdest minds of anyone I have ever encountered. I have hope that someday there will be a growing space for change within the education system. That education will be a deeper pursuit than just the surface of the building in which classes are held. I have hope that things will change not just or teachers, but also for students. Your thorough analysis, personal experience, and compassion give me motivation for my new year of teaching in India.

      • Dear Kim,
        Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to me when expats like you share their opinions on this platform. I am glad that you agree to the fact that teachers are a byproduct of the education system that they grow up in and hence it is extremely important to start one’s teaching career by unlearning as well as learning a lot of new things. I wish you all the best for your teaching tenure in India.

        • Hello,

          In Govt. school teachers are highly qualified but they are lack of motivation towards their duty. How to motivate teacher?

  8. Hello Yasmeen,
    I loved your article.Every single teacher teaching in rural or urban part of India working in government or a private school will connect to each and every word you wrote here.You got the right chord.I agree we alone cannot change the system over night but can bring the change with in ourselves for that we should take pride in being a teacher first.In your words” We are the masters of this trade not the slaves” well said Yasmeen. I want to know more about the role of In house Professional development cell in the schools and how it works.

    • Hello Sarojini,
      Thank you for resonating with my ideas and agreeing to the fact that we are the change agents rather than expecting change from the system. Now for professional development education sector is a very dynamic industry. As an educator we need to upgrade our teaching skills and classroom strategies to match up with the current demand. Plus it serves as a good platform to share one’s learning. Some schools have their own in house professional development cell where workshops are conducted by senior teachers with years of experience. They conduct their own surveys to assess training modules that their staff require and then tailor their workshops for the academic session. One of the prerequisites of IB curriculum is to devote around 60 or 80 hours of training hours for teaching staff per year. Schools that do not have a Research and development cell hire trainers from outside to deliver sessions. It all depends on the budget planned by the school administrators as it involves logistics cost as well as trainers cost also. Finally the best way is to read a lot of articles written by eminent educationists., teachers etc.

  9. Thanks for the detailed article on challenges in our schools. this article gives me some deep insights on the issues faced by teachers and management. could you give us some of your work with more clarifications and details of problems faced by students and their perception on the teachers and administrators ?? thank you so much

    • Dear Kavi Manoj,
      Thank you for finding my article insightful. Regarding problems faced by students , I have never written any article on this issue. Anyways the generic problems affect all types of schools. Whether it is learning difficulties or behavioral issues they exist in both affordable or high end schools. Behavioral issues stem up due to present day issues of neglect, domestic or emotional abuse due to conservative parents , feeling of abandonment due to peer pressure or parents going through divorce and even bullying. Due to helicopter parenting it is ubiquitous to see students who are extremely pampered and to add on top of this, teachers who have not updated their personality and approach towards teaching and blame parents for everything.
      Similar problems exist in affordable private schools but problems are more stark due to rampant lack of funds, sometimes alcoholic parents etc, but based on my personal experience I find the will power of students from these schools is way higher than high end schools might be because they are not only resourceful but also value what they get.
      Nonetheless based on my experience one thing is sure students look out for teachers who can identify their uniqueness rather than labeling them as behavioral issue students. They basically need a teacher who can listen and takes effort and time after school hours to listen to them and their stories without being judge mental. Listening and giving the required space is what makes all the difference in their lives.

    • Hi, ma’am.. It’s Tasneem.. I totally agreed by your article… I must appreciate your wider prospective on the education system and conditions of private teachers in India.. Even in my school we all are facing weekly inspection by the inspection cell… They cross checks or copies… Class room teaching… Maintenance of class room including cleanliness. …mopping dusting done by maids…. To make call to fee deafaulters at regular basis. In the last I conclude that we are doing lots n lots of unnecessary a teacher instead of imparting quality education and inculcating moral values to our students… We are helpless we have to persue with the same environment .

  10. Excellent article Ms. Yasmeen! It is a sad state of education. I joined this field for the love of teaching and children. But sadly , it is drifting due to the so called ‘rules’ set by people who are not even aware of the day to day practical problems faced in a classroom. Mid year or late admissions without any pre tests are a big challenge. Due to high fee structure, parents don’t want to repeat a class even if the child is unable to cope. Parents don’t have any respect for teachers as they feel that they are paying huge amount of fees which unfortunately does not reach the teacher! This sense of disrespect passes on to the children also leaving the teacher frustrated.
    As the competition level rise among schools, the management stresses on holding events some of which have no relevance to the kids at all! and that too on a large scale which takes away precious teaching time and effort of teachers.
    Is there any solution to this ever??

    • Dear Nandini,
      Thank you for liking my article. Well what you said is not something new based on my personal experience as well as what my colleagues experienced. Most of them are something that we need to accept as a pinch of salt and move on rather than fret about them. Now that differentiation is a pedagogical tool, new students can be accommodated who join school in the middle of the academic year. A separate curriculum, syllabus can be created for those students. I mean I have students who not only join school in the middle or end of the year but even did not have French in their previous schools which means they are absolute beginners who are expected to be supported via bridge programme and other support materials to leverage with the rest of the class. At the end they are clients and it is our duty to support them and some of them do really better than the regular students.
      Coming to the point of respect, I have heard many teachers complaint about it but personally I have never experienced it. This is not because I am a very cool headed teacher as I do have my eruption moments but because I believe in logical arguments. Students play with rules when we either don’t listen to them to understand their perspective or we don’t give them the reason behind a particular norm. They have a right to question every decision of mine and as a teacher I should give them the rationale behind every consequence. The moment this typical stereotype starts playing in our mind that we deserve respect because we are elders , it is at that precise moment we loose respect . Also students respect those teachers who don’t unnecessarily interfere in their personal lives. I mean half of the time I enter in a staff room, I find one or the other senior teacher gossiping about a student dating with some high school student or some other issue. I think that breaks the personal cord because it is no one’s business to discuss about someone’s life and students figure out judge mental teachers very easily . Most important we can only earn respect when we start respecting our career choice which many teachers fail to do so because teaching was never their preferred career choice and with the passage of time they have settled into complacency rather than inspiring themselves to learn a new skill or upgrade one’s knowledge or pursue a new hobby or even higher studies. Moral of the story one needs to love and respect oneself, be a good listener and stay young at heart to earn respect from students.

  11. Hi Yasmeen,
    Your article was calling a spade a spade. Good. I would like to register here that the plight of private engineering college teachers is still more pathetic. The teacher has to handle not just the system, the curriculum, the management etc but also the disinterested adult students, who, you will not know, what they are interested in. As there is this information cascade from everyside, teachers are the last resort for them to come to learn. It is tough to handle their silence, their sleepiness, their insensitivity in the classroom. furthermore we, the professors are responsible for their performance in the exams and their results too.

    • Hello Kalpana,
      Thank you for your insights about the tertiary education sector of our country. I understand how it feels dealing with students who are not so motivated but for a moment I feel as educators we are equally responsible for all this. Do we take the extra step to talk to them personally and try to connect to them on a human level after class hours or do we keep our biased judgments only to reprimand them at the end? Even we deal with teenagers who hail from filthily rich family and generally find no purpose in education. My experience has taught me that no matter whatever background a student hails from , every student has a story. Some are victims of bullying or peer pressure and take up this languorous approach towards life just to maintain their cool image in front of their friends. Once their stories are debunked , it is from there a solution can be worked out. Students will always sleep if they don’t understand the purpose of that topic they are studying or they are not challenged to keep them engaged. I feel even a dry subject if presented in an interesting and challenging manner can keep the students motivated to learn. Above all they also need to be constantly reminded as to why they are learning that topic and how will that help them in real life by drawing real life connections.

  12. Hi Yasmeen,
    Nice article.
    As a solution, how will it work, if we involve the Corporate world into it – they can utilize their CSR funds along with their latest technology and management skill to improve professional development of the teachers. Currently, Corporates (if they focus on education) spend their CSR funds and energy in teaching children only. Your views ?

    • Hello Amit,
      Thanks for your comment. Well it will be a good step to employ funds for teachers. A lot of them do not have much idea of latest pedagogy and mindset to teach children. Training should be more on handling practical skills like classroom management, growth mindset etc.

  13. Many of you have pointed about changing mind set of society and also a teachers self estimation

    However, reality is what I can see is compensation offered to teachers is very less. Mainly government teachers are moving and leaving the government teaching jobs due to the same reason

    Any idea how can we retain and motivate those teachers?? is there anyway we can improve their life style and change their thinking about government teaching jobs?

    • Hello Harshal,
      You would be surprised to find out that in general compensation of government teachers is more than that of most private schools. So monetary compensation is an important factor but not the only factor. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Money would just act as the basic need and once the basic need is fulfilled , people will try to find out avenues to move towards greener pasture. To retain and motivate such teachers we need to show them avenues of growth which encompasses both intellectual ,professional and personal growth. Teachers should be shown opportunities where they can decide their career graph, pursue higher studies , become an active member of school decision policy etc rather than just being told what they are expected to do or duties being assigned for some school functions.
      Until and unless teachers are challenged and allowed to develop their own practices by allowing them academic liberty, teaching would look like a mundane job and it won’t come as a surprise if people who are in this industry for 20 years prefer to quit as they were never shown ways to grow as an educator.

  14. Hi Yasmeen, Insightful, introducing teacher appraisals linked to student performance might help in the government sector. Better hiring processes and salaries in the private sector.

    • Hello Vandana,
      Thanks. Regarding appraisals there should be a proper framework because I won’t be surprised if teachers reduce the standard of assessments to jack up the scores or pass a student by retesting again and again to portray false accomplishments. If these are taken care of then appraisals can be helpful. Apart from student performance I feel teachers should also be assessed on the initiatives that they take in terms of community outreach , conducting training workshops for teachers and staff in general, taking responsibility of their own professional development etc. If these aspects are covered then it will give appraisals a more holistic perspective.

  15. Hi Mam,
    I am doing my doctoral degree on the difficulties faced women teachers in Tamilnadu, your views would certainly help my studies. Thank you so much

  16. Hey..I also left a job in pharmaceutical industry to be a teacher. I fought against my family to take that decision because I wanted to make some solid contribution to the society. What you have written in your article are the exact same things that are bugging me. Believe me, I can relate to every single word of it.

  17. Hi ! I really appreciate the way you are depicted the truth.your article covers most of the real facts about our education system but in my opinion we are responsible for all these things.One should be confident and strict towards their work .So change yourself otherwise change will change you.Teacher should start thinking and sparking from that point,and bring new ideas in the society.

  18. Hi Mam,

    Thank u your article is helpful.We are working on a project to motivate the educator in order to improve the quality education in rural India .The factor we identified are compensation and autonomy and training and new class room technology and pedagogy. May i know the issue faced by rural primary educator particularly in school having one or two teacher only as it will strengthen my project.

  19. this is one of the most inspiring, transparent and straight-forward article i have even come across. Really appreciate your work and dedication. Keep writing and keep motivating.

  20. Yasmin! I recently joined a school as the Art teacher and have been called to the principal’s office for the use of “unparliamentary language”. More than ashamed, I was shocked at the accusations. And many of them came from the students who are children of some of the teachers in the school. Being a teacher is a sacrifice enough, but when the sacrifice is not even acknowledged, it’s really heartbreaking. I’ve been feeling like a pile of horse-dung, and am questioning myself and my morals and decisions. I don’t want to feel like this but I don’t know what else to do! The school authorities themselves have told me that my subject is not as important and that some students may not adhere to my teaching. Instead, they are free to do whatever pleases them and I’ve been told to mind my tongue! I’m in such a dilemma. I gave up my corporate writing job for this with hopes of giving something back to the world. And one major issue that I wanted to bring to light was the cold-shoulder and bullying that is persistent within teachers. As a newcomer, the teachers are not taking it well that I’m not sucking up to them and doing this “ma’am ma’am” business. I’m a bit concerned as to why I was hired in the first place. I thought it was for me to be an art teacher who’s invested in the betterment and skill enhancement of the students. Instead, here I am at the mercy of the students and their parents who are just waiting with pitchforks. As if to burn the witch.

  21. The article highlights the position of a teacher who chosed the profession in a passion of being reformer in the society who would take the responsibility of educating a generation with morality and reasonability ,but on the contrary one is forced to become a part business who appease s rich emotional fool parents who want good numbers and grades written in their poorly educated indisciplined and uninterested child ,the teacher is not allowed to punish indisciplined adamant child but has to show his good performance to the parents and school management ,
    no one wants an innovative inquisitive teacher who pushes children to strain the brain to come out with the solution by them selves but want one who gives ready made answers to complete the notebook to be shown to parents,and a very easy low grade question paper to be written with known answers to come out with good scores to show to their parents who paid for it ,
    Teacher is in constant fear of complaint s made by parents ,no matter how genuine it is ,no one is going to investigate ,
    Teacher has to give proof of her teaching work ,has to maintain all the documents in written that could prove her innocence and competency agains a careless complaint made by parents whose child simply says , , “notebook is incomplete ,because she doesn’t teach anything or she doesn’t solve problems systematically on board or I don’t know what she teaches no one understands in the class ”
    One of the parents asked me to put picture of each question I solve on board ,on uolo , as a proof and so that if child not writing in class and wasting time could be made to copy it at home comfortably ,when refused for this I had to face humiliation by principal before other coulegue
    I keep checking the heaps of notebooks completed , documenting ,my honesty towards duties in each period ,
    I can not talk about Vedic mathematics or great work s of Indian mathematicians or anything that is not there in ncert book even if relevant otherwise I have to face the complaint s by ignorents ,
    salaries work hours ,work stress after school ,updating messages after school etc are different important issues , teachers are not free to teach the way best they feel , education business is making parents and students fool and teachers are exploited on this way ,teachers are sandwiched between parents and management school with no support ,and child is left unprocessed ,

  22. This is a strange article, I find it hard to believe. My family lives on my mom’s teaching salary, it’s not pocket money. Men are not more likely breadwinners, I don’t know a single household where men are the only salary. Only some ultraconservative immigrant families are structured this way and there are several infamous documentaries and online help groups that attest how toxic and unnatural this is. There are loads of female breadwinners; anyone who has seen the results of the long-form mandatory survey can attest to the fact that male breadwinners have been rare since the late 1970s. My aunt is a breadwinner, three of my friends’ moms are breadwinners, my doctor is a female breadwinner, and the list goes on and on. Women are twice as likely to attend university and most men go into the trades. Practically every household I know is like this including my doctor’s. Her husband was a mason before he got hurt. The trades do pay better than the university jobs that most women qualify for, but these careers are more dangerous and you retire earlier as well. Since the strikes in the early 2000s teachers have been paid closer to what graduate degree earners deserve. The teachers of Indian heritage are not paid less than the others would be unconstitutional. Private schools have always paid less than public schools for those without master’s degrees. We have so many good universities that everyone comes here for education, considering the exchange rate very few go to the states or the old world; so the IB public school stream is rarely used even though it costs just over 500 dollars for the few specialized courses and the certification fee processing.

  23. Hi Yasmeen, I really appreciate your courage and concern for all the teachers who are facing issues in their professional and personal life. I read you article, it like a lot. the way you expressed it without any confidentiality. its true that there is much a lack of support and motivation for teachers in many schools in India. Actually I am persuing my post graduation and currently working on a project which is completely based on the teachers and their contribution towards this country for better children education deserve a lot more then respect. your article helped me a lot with the info provided in here. I Thankyou personally. Hope we be the responsible citizen and the due respect I have towards this profession wanted to give them what they really deserve.

  24. Yasmeen this was a brilliant article! Your deep insight reflects your passion for the job. I am working out something related to revamp the education system. Your article was a helpful resource. Thanks a lot and all the best 🙂


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