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Teachers, teaching and teachers unions

Shabeer Rather
[ March 21, 2017 ]

The common news we read in almost every newspaper and almost every day is like ‘The employees of department X protested under the union Y under the leadership of Mr A to press for their demands'. 'Mr A president of union Y has given ultimatum to the government to full fill their demands'. And all that. Yes! I am talking about trending union culture in Jammu and Kashmir.

The general line teachers’ union, ReT teachers’ union, non - gazetted employees union; I mean unions and unions all around. As a common kashmiri student I have few concerns about the unions related to education sector. I am active on many social networking sites. The most active or visible unions on these sites are those related to the education sector. By education sector I mean unions like general line teachers’ union, ReT forum etc. I as a common student have no problem when our respected teachers do protest under the banner of these unions to press for their demands whether genuine or not, that is not my concern. Rather as a student activist I would love to support them for their genuine demands. Yes my concern is when my poor fellow students suffer. Yes my concern is when schools remain closed due to these protests. Last year I remember before the uprising one of my friends updated on Face book “Sunday:- holiday Monday, Tuesday,:- ReT strike; Wednesday, Thursday:- general line teachers strike; Friday, Saturday :-EJAC strike. I wonder if they ever go to school. I wonder if they are doing justice? !!! '' This status was really the thought provoking. If you don't agree with him completely but there is a fraction of reality at least. The thing which I failed to understand about these unions is why the individual teachers celebrate so excitedly when they are chosen as representative, member, president, or vice president etc. or when their candidate is elected. Even these candidates have their own lobbies and followers. I have some of the members of these unions on my Face book friend list .Last year it was probably their election. I was surprised to see the way they were campaigning for their respective candidates, as if they were campaigning for the parliamentary elections. They uploaded the pictures of their respective candidates with a message to support him/her. Then come the celebrations after they win, believe me not less thn the ways the parliamentarians celebrate theirs win. During election days I saw almost in every newspaper that Mr X congratulates Mr Y for being elected as president, vice president, general secretary etc of some union. The newspapers were full of such messages, I mean flooded. On social networking sites especially Face book believe me it was like all about them and their election for at least a month. Tyranny is they claim the union is for the betterment of the teacher community and the education but they fight each other in the elections like the professional politicians. They have the competition with their fellow teachers. Even they posted about each other’s morality, questioned each other’s character. I failed to understand why were my dear respected teachers so much excited about their elections? I am one of the core members of All J&K students union as well as coordinator , whenever we have to choose our president etc we just fix the meeting and choose the one keeping in mind the welfare of students, I mean we don’t have any competition within us because our sole aim is to fight for student’s rights . So my dear respected teachers your celebrations suggest you are having competition within your community, I mean you fight with each other to win. So may I ask you why do you compete with each other when you say your sole aim is to fight for rights of teachers? Aren't your activities disrupting the education of poor students? You don’t send your children to the school's you teach in , I mean in government schools, most probably you know what you have created inside the government system(I never doubt your capabilities of teaching but am pointing towards the image you have created of government schools) . I am not saying you should not fight for your rights but I am saying don’t behave as professional politicians , who for the votes can do anything.

You have transformed yourselves from the teacher to the politicians. Believe me no politician is as much respected as a common teacher, but still you put yourselves in the race. Teaching is such a pious and respectful job even dead, I mean worst people of society respect you. Teacher in general will remain as pious as it is but you in person as a teacher are losing the respect. Every children nowadays from eight class are having access to social networking sites, think what your actions would inflict into his / her mind. Think what impression you are creating for them. I am not pointing towards the whole teachers community but to those who are too much involved in this union politics. When I see their activities on social networking sites I doubt whether they are getting time to teach the students in the school or not. I mean they are too much active in this union system. Even they are busy in creating there own lobbies and political space.I even doubt if they like to teach now. Most probably answer for the question why they celebrate so excitedly is that once elected these representatives need not to teach the students. They enjoy the perks under the union.Most of these(not all) representatives hardly go to their respective schools. I mean some of them don't know even where they are posted. They just keep moving from here to there, to accommodate the time which was otherwise for the poor students. They keep enjoying the union toffees. Another thing why they celebrate the win is probably they get publicity to enjoy the perks from some politicians or some political parties. Even some of them are having secret ties with mainstream political parties, from which they directly or indirectly get support and in return they support them in the election openly or secretly. As a responsible citizen we must think why our respected teachers have gone so deep in this politics. Are they doing it by will or without will? As a citizen we must check this trend. We must support them in their every ups and downs but at the same time we should keep vigil on their activism to save the poor children. As responsible citizens we must involve ourselves in this education system from the grass root levels (primary) to upper levels (higher, higher secondary) for its betterment. We must keep this education system apolitical. Our respected teachers can't justify their activities by ignoring basic duty that's teaching. My dear respected teachers introspect and reflect what you have gained and lost from last few years since you have indulged in this union politics. There is a image problem now for one part of your community. The people are not now respecting you as much as you deserve. Power, money, position is not everything, it weighs nothing when we talk of dignity. Allah has bestowed you with such a pious job; even peons of your department are highly respected in our society. This article is focused only upon those teachers who have indulged themselves too much in politics of power position and reputation. Let me mention it again I personally never doubt the teaching capabilities of our respected teachers. Some of them may be best, some better and some good.
(---------The author a student at SSM College of Engineering and Technology Srinagar is a student activist and coordinator of J&K Students Union. The views expressed by the author are his own but not of “Kashmir Horizon”)