by Swatee Jog
One feels deeply concerned while reading posts by parents who’re saying that the schools are taking online classes, so why should we pay the fees. That’s so absurd an argument. Many of us have seen up close how every teacher and the management have strived hard so that every kid keeps learning. The new state govt. order states that schools should not charge for online classes up to std. 5th. Many parents are inferring that schools must not charge fees at all.
We must stand up for the teachers now.
Firstly, the teachers are a damn talented bunch. Many people have raised questions on the quality of the teachers, their pronunciation and their confidence. One must remember that Governing bodies like CBSE and state boards have stringent rules for recruiting teachers including their qualifications and experience. Schools publicize vacancies and screen teachers and the best from the available ones are selected. As for the very high quality expected, one must not forget that all brilliant students cannot become brilliant teachers. Also, how many toppers join the teaching profession is a matter of debate. In the same vein, should we start testing quality standards of bankers, professors, scientists and the like on our personal scales? When parents compare teachers doing classes on Google Meet or Zoom to those teachers on tutorial apps, please don’t forget the latter are teaching in a studio setting with professional cameras, with a host of technical experts, editors, sound mixers working behind scene. Normally, a B.Ed. degree does not train teachers to teach in front of a camera, it trains them for classroom settings.
Teachers did not shy from their duty in this crisis. When all shops and offices were shut, teachers were performing their duty. All classes are running smoothly, albeit online. Does knowledge diminish by that?
Schools had to quickly rise up, train the teachers for teaching online. Using multiple software, video editing and voice editing was learned. All teachers used their own phones and mega internet packs to use for 4 to 5 hours every day. It takes an average of 800 MB of internet data to take a one hour class on Google Meet. Please calculate the internet cost.
Some teachers may not have big houses to find a peaceful environment to teach. They shooed their kids outside and took lessons. Some took refuge in neighbor’s homes leaving old in-laws at home while taking classes.
When we see someone post that teachers saved 50 percent of their efforts, I’m sorry, you’re wrong sir. They had to call each parent, reassure them, guide them, create lesson plans, delivered lectures, set assignments, pored through each answer sheet that came on Whatsapp, evaluated them, marked attendance, joined staff meetings, sent weekly reports and never complained. It’s not by choice that they’re working from home, but by choice, they’re working, come what may, so kids keep learning.
With the due exception, not many schools have deep pockets. The labs, buses, the extra grounds, the software, the basketball courts, all costs money to the school. They hire more teachers so no class is wasted when someone is on leave. They hire more staff to clean so kids get a spanking clean environment. They invested in computers, in smart classes and books, in smart teachers and sports facilities, teacher training and seminars. Schools have EMIs to pay too. Ask me how good managements run a school and you’ll know it’s not business.
Most schools on their part, have tried their best to understand parents’ problems. With stray exceptions, no school has forced to pay fees. No fee hike is implemented. Installments are provided. On the other hand, not a single outflow of money has stopped for school. Where will the money come from? Parents question what schools do with these fees. Most schools grow organically, one year, one classroom at a time. The fees that you pay go into that new classroom built, the furniture, the ICT facility and stipulated pay has to be paid along with ESI, PF, Gratuity, Insurance and spend for transport arrangement for teachers, etc. Apart from the 2% relaxation in PF, the education sector has got no sops from the government. The schools pay property tax at commercial rates. Schools being the end-users, have to bear the burden of GST at the higher slabs.
No one forgot to pay the electricity bill or the property tax. No one forgot to charge internet packs or the cable TV. When teachers spent extra hours teaching kids difficult lessons, did they charge extra? Is it a pay-per-use service? The counterparts in aided schools have not borne the brunt of all this.
If schools don’t charge fees, how will they pay the teachers? By this rule, no worker of any factory or any company/establishment which was not running during a lockdown, or which is not working even now, should get any salary!
Parents can speak with the management before making sweeping statements and generalizing all schools. Teachers have households to run too, take care of elderly parents, in-laws and kids. Ours is a nation that reveres Gurus. Don’t trivialize teachers. They shape a nation’s future.
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