Its that time of the year when career decisions are sealed. In the flurry of admission into business schools and other fancy professional courses, one noble field is usually bypassed. But its time people realised that the career they are not giving a second thought to is a rewarding and secure option, especially in the age of pink slips.
The field is teaching — a profession that has been creating a buzz in recent times. Many states have said they do not have enough teachers to implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act recently passed by Parliament. Large vacancies reportedly exist in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh as well as West Bengal. Union minister for human resource development Kapil Sibal has said that for the Act to be successfully implemented, the country will need another 20 lakh teachers in government and private schools.
In other words, there is going to be a huge demand for teachers. A boom in teaching jobs is imminent.
According to statistics provided by the United Nations Childrens Fund, at least eight million out-of-school children in India need to be brought back into the education system. Not surprisingly, if every child in the country between six and 14 is to get primary education — as has been stipulated in the Act — there should be a direct demand for more teachers. More so, because the legislation also requires schools to maintain a 1:30 teacher-student ratio.
That seems a very optimistic target at the moment, says Sister Cyril, principal, Loreto Day School, Sealdah. Currently in government schools the ratio is a far cry from what is required. Curiously, it is this depressing situation that creates the anticipation for opportunities.
The target for West Bengal is to recruit at least 61,000 primary school teachers. Of this, about 30,000 have already been enlisted. Secretary of the School Education Department Vikram Sen, however, maintains that this is part of the regular recruitment process that was stalled in 2005 following a court case.
But are there so many qualified people, especially in rural areas? Its not so difficult to find Madhyamik qualified students in the villages these days, says Animesh Chatterjee, state head of Pratham, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working in the field of primary education.
Manabendra Nath Ray, state programme manager at Save the Children, an NGO, says it may be another two or three years before we get to see the volume of actual recruitment. And when it does happen, it will provide opportunities en masse. As Abhinav Chandra, state project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, puts it, Schools are a one-time investment, while teachers are a recurring expense. According to him, the RTE is a powerful tool, the impact of which is still not very apparent.
Educationist Samar Bagchi agrees. When every village has a school, and every school has to subscribe to the 1:30 ratio, the demand will be Herculean.
Even without the anticipated boom, schools are already among the biggest job providers. The West Bengal Central School Service Commission recruits 16,000 to 17,000 teachers for junior, junior high and secondary schools every year, informs chairman Ranajit Basu. We are the largest employers in West Bengal, if not the country. Who else provides permanent pensionable jobs in such numbers? he asks. This year, of the 17,041 vacancies, about 3,000 could not be filled. Most of these are in the Scheduled Tribes category, in subjects such as physics, chemistry, work education, and Santhali and Urdu languages, Basu points out.
Financial rewards for taking on the challenge vary. Gone are the days when school teachers were paid peanuts. Thanks to the successive pay commissions, the overall image of government school teachers has undergone a sea change. See box for remuneration and other benefits.
Training is an important factor. Though it is still not compulsory in government schools, you get extra credits at the secondary level and a better pay packet at the primary level if you are trained. For a secondary school job, you must be trained from a recognised bachelor of education (BEd) college, and for the primary level, the Primary Teachers Training Institute.
The RTE specifies that even if untrained teachers are taken in to meet immediate requirements, the latter need to get in-service training within five years.
Sister Cyril advises would-be teachers to join a recognised college. Recently, 60,000 teachers were derecognised by the Central government because the colleges they trained from were not recognised, she says.
Clearly, there arent enough training colleges. But we are in discussion with the Indira Gandhi National Open University for in-service training, says secretary Sen.
Today, teachers are an envied tribe. You have an exciting life, as you are always with young people, says Kar. The vacations are a huge bonus. And you have a lifelong learning experience.
So if you have the degrees and a great love for children — a quality Sister Cyril feels is a must — go for it and be part of a revolution which could well transform the nation.
POINTS TO PONDER
► Eligibility is Class X (which may change), age limit 40 years
► Selection is on basis of Class X result, exam, interview
► Trained teachers in higher pay band than untrained ones
► Entry-level salary is Rs 10,000 to Rs 13,000, including dearness, house and medical allowances. Added to this are gratuity and pension
► Retirement age is 60.
Secondary school teachers
► Age limit is 37 (minimum 20)
► Includes junior, junior high and secondary school
► Two categories: pass (graduation in subject) and honours PG (honours or postgraduation in subject)
► Pass teachers can teach up to Class X, others up to XII
► BEd not compulsory at entry, but credit marks given for it
► Entry exam is of 100 marks (60 for subject). Paper II is objective type, based on general knowledge. Results of classes X and XII, honours and PG exams count
► Subject vacancies declared every year in newspapers and also on West Bengal Central School Service Commission website (www.westbengalssc.com)
► Honours PG teachers can expect entry-level salary of Rs 25,000, pass category teachers Rs 20,000
► Before retirement one can expect to draw Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 or even more
► Jobs are permanent and pensionable.
Private school TEACHERS
► Salaries expected to follow Fifth Pay Commission rates
► Pay scales and other facilities vary from school to school
► At least graduation required; trained teachers preferred
► Entry-level salary is Rs 10,000 to 15,000
► One can expect gratuity and provident fund, but pension facility depends on school
► Retirement age is 60.
B Ed INSTITUTES
St Xavier’s College
30 Park Street, Calcutta
Contact: (033) 22551242; firstname.lastname@example.org
7 Middleton Row, Calcutta
Contact: (033) 22640952, email@example.com
8 David Hare Training College
25/3 Ballygunge Circular Road, Calcutta
Contact: (033) 24864848
IGNOU School of Education,
Maidan Garhi, New Delhi
Contact: (011) 29535519; www.ignou.ac.in/schools/soe/index.htm
Gopal Chandra Memorial College of Education,
Contact: (033) 25672826
The list is not exhaustive