With no time to prepare, quality of teaching is falling

Teachers have to work during vacations to ensure that the mid-day meals are served. DH Photo/ BH Shivakumar

The time is 8.30 on a Monday morning. Suma (name changed) is at a bus stop in Devanahalli. With a pile of books in her hand, she starts the commute. It is a three kilometre walk to the school where she teaches.

“If I were a private school teacher, I would be picked up from my residence and dropped back. But I have to walk the three-kilometre stretch as there is no last mile connectivity. It is my passion to do something for the rural children that keeps me motivated to literally walk the extra mile.”

Once Suma reaches the school, she has to teach primary and higher primary students. “Unlike private school teachers, we do not get a break here,” she says drawing a comparison.

For her, as well as several other teachers who have been recruited into government schools, the schedule is tight. Once in school, there is no break in between.

“If I start taking classes, I can take a break only for lunch. There is no free period to relax or prepare for the upcoming classes,” she explains.

Ask government teachers what they wish the Department of Public Instruction offered them, they say it is ‘spare time’. While the teachers in private schools have the time to up-skill themselves, for government school teachers time is a luxury.

Each time the syllabus is changed, the department conducts workshops to brief them about it and also helps them prepare better. However, there is little time for them to make notes or prepare teaching aids to help students learn better, they lament.

This is one of the primary reasons why the quality of teaching is taking a beating in schools, they confess. “Most government schools are short staffed. We do not even have the time to prepare for the next class,” says another teacher from the school.

No subject teachers

Even though it is mandatory for schools to have subject specific teachers, there are several of them with none, confess officials of the education department. “We have one teacher teaching students from Class 3 to 7 in several schools. In many of these schools, they teach a combined class of students from two different standards as the strength is very low. How much can one teacher do?” an official questioned.

Vinay, a student from a government higher primary school said, “Our teacher comes to our class to teach mathematics. She gives us a few problems to solve and walks into the next class to attend to the Class 3 students. She teaches English and mathematics at the same time in two different classes.” This is a school of over 70 students managed by just two teachers in Bengaluru Rural district.

Single teachers

Karnataka has over 3,500 schools managed by single teachers, as per reports by the Department of Public Instruction. These single teachers have to multitask. Not only does the teacher juggle between various classes but also has to do other non-teaching works.

One might assume that summer holidays give these teachers room to up-skill themselves, but on the contrary, non-teaching work keeps them occupied constantly.

Chandru Nugli, state secretary, Karnataka Government Primary Teachers Association says, “In several of the drought-affected districts, teachers have been asked to continue work as mid-day meals must be served to children.”

“This year is particularly hectic for teachers due to elections. We are employed as Booth Level Officers and put on election duty. We are also deployed for census duty,” he said.

“For many of us who wish to pursue additional training, there is no time. Besides this, we have to reach out to the neighbourhood homes and enroll students. The social welfare department gives scholarships to students. We have been entrusted the responsibility of opening accounts in the students’ names and ensure the money is in their accounts,” he added.

Nugli said, that even as RTE has mandated only 210 working days, consecutive governments have been stretching this for 250 days. “Teachers have no time to prepare”.

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With no time to prepare, quality of teaching is falling

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