Thursday, September 17, 2020

Transfer Woes

When I was undergoing my training at the Samtse College of Education, I was acquainted with the idea that each teacher must serve in remote schools for at least three years. Honestly, I felt there was one additional word suffixed to this statement - COMPULSORY. Well, I did not have any qualms then to render this service. In fact, it is a calling that needed more actions than mere ears. That was what I believed when I volunteered for one of the remotest schools in Dagana for my year-long apprenticeship. Of course, I went there on my own volition but it was also because no one else was willing. It was a six-hour walk uphill from the nearest road head (it was longer 'officially', course!) through the thick woods infested with mountain bears and boars. And during monsoon, it was worse. There was the constant fog that formed aura-like shroud over that place. Sun was only a winter's memory. I saw 'acrobatic' leeches for the first time in my life. They climbed on the boughs and somersaulted thrice or more and landed on the passersby beneath. And there was a swarm of sandflies which fed on humans. Locals called them 'bushina' and my natives call them 'zammu'. Every single bite meant boil-like wounds lasting for weeks. And there were bugs to bother at nights. Life was hanging in balance awhile. In retrospect, it was one sweet journey I made in life post-high school.

And after my training, I was placed at Phensum Primary School. I still remember what my Principal said during our first meet. He said, 'Whoever teaches English in Class IV must put in extra efforts.' I replied that I would. But it was only later that I discovered something was amiss there. Class IV children could not even complete the alphabets let alone venturing on any further. I was at my wit's end. I did not know what to do next. I decided to unlock the secret behind this. I was literally taken aback to find out that half of them directly joined from NFE to Class III the previous year. Some of them could hardly differentiate p's from q's and b's from d's. What could the teacher's years of training fend for them when communication was not possible? I had a robust urge to see how they managed to pull through and checked the Question Bank. The cat came out of the bag! Class III was no Class III in any sense. Then I understood what my Principal meant by 'extra efforts'. And that was not possible even for Hercules, in the strictest of sense, given the nature of Class IV English syllabus.

Teacher Human Resource Policy 2014 stated there must be a right composition of teachers in any given school. But when I first arrived there, there was not a single senior teacher other than the Principal. The little mentoring, little guidance and little hand that a fresher would need were out of the question.

Then I came to my present ECR. One thing I learnt here is that an ECR is a poor concept if it is left to fend for itself. And multi-grade teaching is a daunting task. Not having many friends around certainly puts limitations on learning by sharing. Now I feel I should go on a transfer if I at all should advance professionally.

But it teases me to find out that my transfer requests are turned down each time I apply. My friends consoled, "It's alright. Better luck next time!" That is when I go rather hysterical--did they imply that I ran out of my luck? And what has this luck thing got to do here! I completed three years already and now I am running into my fifth. This is the reward for serving remote schools. I look at my Principal and I tell myself that I should not end up like him. He served remote schools all his life and when I saw him filling up a transfer form, I was touched beyond words. The reason for transfer he wrote was: "I want to have a glimpse of urban life before I retire."

The point is, why bias? There are teachers who never stepped outside the metropolitan centres for reasons what not. For one more year they dwell there, one more year transfer requests of teachers serving in remote schools will be turned down. And let's face it, there are also teachers who have fake medical certificates to ensure them a place in urban hubs.

The change of place does not necessarily promise growth but it does give a new page to begin afresh, a new sense of motivation to prove oneself and thrive. It is when such privileges are denied that even the dusty road on the other hill appears greener.

PS: I posted this piece on Facebook some years ago. My transfer was repeatedly turned down and I could not help but come up with this. No sooner had I finished posting it on Facebook than Kunga Tenzin Dorji (aka Supe) shared it after tagging our PM. That sent chill down my spine. It was then shared by Namgay Zam on her page. As 'Like' poured in over time, I began to fear the worst. Luckily, no such thing happened, much to my relief.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A Slice of Goulburn