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Beyond the Pay Package

The Asom Prathamik Shikshak Sanmilani (APSS) is unhappy with the decision of the Sarbananda Sonowal government to implement some of the recommendations of the pay anomaly committee that was formed in the wake of the disgruntlement of the State government employees following the recommendations of the Seventh Assam Pay Commission effective from 1 April 2016. The State government employees had discovered that a number of the pay commission’s recommendations were anomalous, and they, therefore, demanded rectification. An anomaly committee headed by a former chief secretary came into being thus. Now the APPS’ grumble, as this newspaper reported on Tuesday, is that the government is trying to drive a wedge among teachers by categorizing them and their pay grades, which is “injustice to the teachers”. Therefore, the organization is all set to chalk out its next phase of agitation on June 10. No doubt, the new packages and grades for government school teachers are attractive and should prove to be an incentive for what they really need to do in the field of school education in the State in the coming years. This is surely not an incentive for their past works. We must not lose sight of the disgrace that shames the journey of government school education in the State every year when the results of board examinations are declared. This year, out of the 171 schools with zero pass percentage, the figure for government schools stands at 31. In other words, there are 31 government schools that have been an unmitigated failure in producing a single matriculate this year. These are institutions run by the government where salaries, which are increasing by the day, to teachers are paid from the honest taxpayers’ money without most of them being accountable in any way. This is terrible news. But things really educational would not be in the APSS scheme of education. What seems to rate far more is agitation for a perceived ‘injustice’ as it fails to strike the agitation-ready teachers that such categorization in terms of grades is commonplace in other professions as well, including in the defence services.
The other aspect of the story vis-à-vis the enhanced pay package is about productivity. Productivity is a qualitative parameter. It pertains to both the quality of the producer and the produced, the former being the teacher and the latter his student. Needless to say, people, unlike in the past, choose the profession of teaching not due to love and passion for the profession but because they will be misfits elsewhere due to lack of skills and originality and they are aware of it too. This helps sustain a crowd of teachers, not just in schools but also at the university level in general, who are teachers not given to the art and science of teaching, who have nothing to do with productivity (a crucial requisite for the making of a quality human resource and capital that could be invested further in different ways), and who are rather more concerned with pay hikes without having to bother anything at all when it comes to the modern methodologies of teaching and learning. Let us not gloss over the reality of most in the existing teaching fraternity not prepared to be learners in the first place because they are happy with their nourishment of the fallacy that they have learned everything before their avatar as teachers and they do not have to learn anything new now. This sounds harsh, but a reality check is imperative. We have in mind a knowledge society in the true sense, and Assam cannot be an inglorious exception.

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Ankur Kalita