Sunday, September 5, 2021

Where are we headed, education-wise?

If you take a look on social media, there are people of all sorts posting something daily. As a former teacher myself, one thing I noticed there recently is the growing frustrations teachers felt since the onset of the pandemic. The pandemic has not only challenged but also crippled the ‘normal’ way of delivering education. Today our teachers grapple with NNC, BPST, lesson and TLM planning and preparations, CA, interventions for students with LD, assignments, setting questions for exams, evaluations… The list is seemingly infinite. 

And what is worse is, there are some schools understaffed. It is quite common in rural schools. The situational irony is that there are many B.Ed. graduates sitting at home (because RCSC would not recruit them) despite them undergoing years of strenuous training only to turn into couch potatoes after graduation. B.Ed. is a technical qualification. Therefore, someone who is a B.Ed. graduate is only fit to teach. They are NOT eligible for any other jobs, technically speaking. Even if they apply, they do not make it to the shortlist, let alone talk about the interviews. Interestingly, RCSC recruits general graduates to teach on contract as NCT in the name of addressing teacher shortage. What a shameful quick-fix! If anything, that only warrants more issues in the long run. That makes me wonder if RCSC at all cares about the quality of education. 

Oh, they seemed like they did when I had a brief meet-up with some of their high officials on school visits just before I applied for my resignation. They argued that they had to recruit general graduates as NCT (and not the recent B.Ed. graduates) supposedly for the benefits of the regular teachers. Seeing us struggle to process what they just said, they hastened to add that “recruiting an NCT has fewer financial implications than recruiting a regular teacher.” Although there was nothing we could nod in affirmation, we still had to shrug and pass a nod perfunctorily. After all, our job was just to teach; it was them who decided who taught or who did not, with or without a teaching qualification. But deep down, I made a silent prayer: please do not blow it up! 

I still keep my close eye on the education landscape in Bhutan even today. I reckon I will do this until the very end of time. In line with this, a friend of mine had recently experienced something quite interesting. He resigned from teaching for personal reasons some years ago. However, upon seeing an empty slot for a substitute teacher in English’s role, he could not resist applying for it. With a master’s degree to his name, he was quite confident that the role was coming his way. As fate would have it, that never happened. In fact, he did not even make it to the shortlist. Largely taken aback, he contacted HR, and he got the following reply: 

Intrigued, I promptly asked him what he had replied to that message, and he said he just said, “Las!”. As I prodded him further as to why he did not justify to him, he quipped there was no way such a person sitting on HR’s chair could understand what it takes to teach English when all he thinks is otherwise. That made sense to me. Literally. It is similar to a hacking case in India. Someone got his Facebook account hacked and he went to the cops. The cops thought he had lost a book all the while. 

So that took me back to the RCSC’s preferring NCT over B.Ed. graduates. I may be wrong but I can see it is a huge compromise on the quality of education. Why can’t they see it? What makes them so myopic? And at the end when questions are raised about the education quality, it is teachers and teachers alone who are dragged through the guillotine, more often than not. 

Oh, I am at least glad that the HR my friend had to deal with is not our education minister. It is better to have a goat sit on his chair otherwise. 

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