I have heard from teachers that the nation-wide training of teachers on ‘English for Effective Communication’ is good. It is a clear sign that teachers are getting recognised for their sacred service. Understandably, there is also an air of gratitude and satisfaction reciprocating from within the big teaching family. For that, I would like to personally offer my appreciation to everyone who is involved in this laudable job.
But I feel that the timing of the training couldn’t have been worse. As we all know teachers get busier before the summer break. In addition to the invigilation duty that they are assigned during the mid-term examination, they have stacks and bundles of answer papers to be corrected, counted, re-counted, tabulated and submitted within a short period of time. They have to spend extra hours every day to get the job done. Yet they do it without a word of complaint because they know that the holidays are just around the corner, which they much deserve.
Summer break is rightly a time to recharge the battery, which must again last for around five months at a stretch. It really is not a time for the tired teachers to undergo training. I understand that people will say that this training itself be marked as an instance for teachers to re-charge their batteries. They are not quite wrong to make that claim, but most importantly, they aren’t right either.
I am not sure if the person(s) or entity (ies) behind this ‘training during summer breaks’ idea has/have consulted teachers before finalising the plan, or at least the school principals. That being done or not, if other civil servants are paid to undergo trainings during office hours why is it not possible that the same could be done for teachers. Winter and summer holidays are two of the few perks that teachers are entitled to. And if these entitlements are openly robbed, then no one should make any noise whatsoever about teachers leaving their job. No one! The decision on the timing of the training stands a wrong one, it ethically is wrong.
Quite often than not, I have seen non-teacher civil servants complaining for a couple of extra hours that they sometimes have to spend in a prolonged meeting. Worse, I have seen some complaining for having to attend a few-days workshop, which spans over a Saturday. Worst, I have heard a few even complain about having to attend a seminar outside Bhutan which coincidentally falls on national holidays. On the other side, we have a big family of teachers who is at the end of some ‘improvable’ decisions.
With a necessary number of discussions among the relevant stakeholders, I see that this ‘really good’ training could easily have added another feather to its cap, a feather for great timing. Teachers usually have a period or two off a day, which could be cumulated into five days, the requisite duration for the training. The same duration could also have been acquired with a little tweak in the timetable between few teachers. There are provisions of substitution and extra classes to consider too. And there is generally more than one teacher for every subject except in few schools. Whatever the situation, a teacher always makes sure that s/he covers the full syllabus within the stipulated time so that students are not at loss. Teachers in the Dzongkhags have to travel in the monsoon to a training centre.
Yet, it so appears that none of these were taken into account. I can only assume that whoever made the decision to impart training to teachers during their much-deserved holidays is being done mainly on one or all of the following reasons:
Teachers are all welcoming and all receiving of any kind of training since there virtually used to be none before.
The financial incentive is attractive (for teachers).
Teachers rush for tiring evaluation tasks held during winter breaks, so they do not really mind working during holidays.
If the parent ministry fails to show respect to teachers, then it would merely be wastage of time calling others to do it.
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I have huge respect for all teachers. We all must. I suggest that if the ministry first shows some respect to teachers, then we might see the general populace doing the same. And one simple way to show respect is not by engaging teachers in some training during their holidays.
My appreciation would only grow deeper if we leave a holiday as it stands in the dictionary: a day declared free from work by state or government.