Teaching is easy: Perception of Teaching Profession in Nepal
Since I’m also in the management committee of the school, I have to regularly attend both formal meetings and informal chitchats with parents. On one of such chitchats, a guardian of a student asked me if there was any vacancy for teaching post. And she added that there’s a daughter of her sister who has just completed plus-2 and isn’t doing anything these days. So instead of ‘wasting her time’ until she joins her Bachelor’s, it’s better she (the daughter) does some teaching to utilize the time. That way, she can keep herself ‘engaged’ and earn some pocket money as well. usle English medium ma padheko ho, English subjects ta sajilai padhauna sakcha – and, that she can teach English very easily.
Well, that was not the first time that I had to face such request. And each time, I had to lie to them saying that I would let them know if we needed any new teachers. I’m sure many school principals and management get similar requests frequently. And I’m sure many people in our country hold such view – that teaching is a way to keep oneself ‘engaged’ until you find a better or high paying job. It’s just to hang around for a time being.
Not surprisingly, my own mom holds such opinion – that teaching, especially in schools, is just a ‘time pass’ activity. In addition to that, she believes that teaching job is specifically made for females and housewives. In fact, she even believes that – kehi kaam garna sakiyena bhane, laast ma teaching kaam ta cha dai cha ni, if one cannot succeed in any other profession or business, or if one cannot find any other jobs – you still have teaching as the last option. I believe, many people in our society hold such view.
Teaching is easy.
Teaching is for females.
Teaching is not a profession – it is just a way to get engaged for a time being.
But, are these claims all real? I have pondered over this issue and I guess these are the reasons for such perception.
The fact that any average person (male or female) with an average result in SLC or plus-2 can work as a teacher in Nepal has twisted this perception even more. These types of teachers working to ‘pass time’ and to save some pocket money – this is widespread in most of the private boarding schools, may be not that widespread in ‘big and rich’ private schools but definitely in small-budget private schools. In Nepal, one simply doesn’t need any teaching license or any teaching experience. In fact, this situation works out fine for the both sides: the schools can make the them work for really low salary and in return, they get what they want – a reason to get engaged for a time being and earn pocket money. Plus, a reason to easily get a certificate of experience. (In case of the government schools, I believe that only those with at least Bachelors in Education get appointed as teachers, hence it might be a different story in those schools.)
The other side of the coin:
Small-budget private schools have their own stories of compulsions and sacrifices. With a limited budget and a necessity to satisfy the requests of fee-paying parents, such schools are compelled to hire these types of teachers. And, when these teachers quit the job (mostly unannounced and in the middle of the session), the school can do absolutely nothing. The first reason, there’s hardly any system of a job contract. The second reason, when a teacher says he/she has been offered a better job and a better pay, the schools can’t hold them back, morally or legally. So, it’s back to the square one. A hunt for another teacher begins and the incessant cycle of hiring a new temporary teacher to finish the session continues.
In fact, according to a very experienced teacher-trainer that I know, over 80% of teachers in the private schools of Nepal are not career teachers. They are just hanging in the schools – either until they complete their studies, or they find another job or they need a job experience to apply for foreign countries. They may also be seeking job in another bigger and reputed school but with an increased pay. The remaining 20% are full time teachers and hardly 5% are true professional career teachers, he claims. I don’t know how authenticate his data is but judging by the opinions of the general people, the data might be a true story.
And thus, the perception that ‘teaching is an easy job’ persists in our society. But you can ask any teacher you meet. They might have joined the profession by choice or by chance, but I bet you they would never say that it’s an easy job.
So, who is responsible for this prevalent perception – the teachers, the schools, the parents, the policy makers?