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Why Is Teaching Considered Less Prestigious Compared To Careers In Bureaucracy?

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Being an academician, I am thinking of an important question these days, i.e., why teaching and many other professions, such as medicine, engineering, law, banking, business, politics, are not considered as prestigious in my country as the three professions of bureaucracy, military and judiciary which I subsequently term as BMJ (B – Bureaucracy, M – Military, and J – Judiciary). To reach a logical conclusion, I ask a few questions to myself and the answers to most of these questions are a big ‘NO’. For instance:

Are the people in BMJ more educated as compared to the people in rest of the professions?
No, mostly they are simply postgraduates and graduates like people in other professions. Even many people in other professions, such as the specialist doctors, professors in universities holding PhD degrees, barristers, are more educated than them.

Are the BMJ very wealthy?
No, many businessman, politicians, top lawyers and doctors are many times wealthier than them.

Don’t BMJ do anything wrong? Are they infallible?
No, they are equally prone to mistakes and wrongdoings as any other person can be.

Do they hold more authority and power?
Yes, they do; but the politicians are even more powerful than them and many times the BMJ have to act on decisions made by politicians.

Then, the question arises why they are considered more prestigious? Why most of the parents wish their children to become an officer in the BMJ.

One obvious answer to these questions is that the BMJ are well-groomed. Then the question arises who grooms them. Do they groom themselves? Obviously, not. The system grooms them. The system the state-machinery has developed for them. The five important features of the system that play a vital role in their grooming are:

1.     A rigorous selection process
2.     Compulsory and long term pre-service and in-service training
3.     Maximum exposure at both national and international levels
4.    Availability of resources and facilities
5.     Freedom to make their own policies

I now discuss all these points in detail.

The BMJ have to pass through a rigorous selection process. They have to qualify a number of tests evaluating their knowledge, mental and physical health, and personality traits before they are finally selected. As a result, the best available persons are selected for these jobs. Whereas, in teachers’ selection, no such rigorous process is involved, which is very unfortunate. It is deemed that teaching is a very easy job and any one can be a teacher. It is hardly realised that teaching is a very important and sensitive job as it plays a key role in the character building of a nation. Unfortunately, it is deemed that the only requirement for a teacher is to hold a Master’s, MPhil or PhD degree in line with the respective domains (schools, colleges and universities) a teacher is selected for. When selecting teachers, no attention is paid to the personality traits of an individual. It is not realised that a bad teacher, if selected, can play havoc with the whole nation. The future of the coming generations whom that teacher will teach in the next at east thirty years of her/his job lies in the hand of a teacher. A judge, bureaucrat, or military officer never comes across so many individuals in his professional career as a teacher does. Therefore, it is imperative that utmost care should be taken in the selection of teachers at all levels of education from primary schools to universities, and only the best people should be selected for this very important job. In this regard, the implementation of a similar rigorous selection process for teachers as is followed for selecting the BMJs is very important.

The next important factor that plays a key role in the grooming of the BMJs is the compulsory long-term pre-service and in-service training. Before their postings, the BMJs are given professional long-term training in professional academies where they are taught multiple courses for the further enhancement of their knowledge, professional skills and personality. Moreover, they are trained by the best minds in the country. Apart from these pre-service trainings, multiple in-service trainings are also a compulsory feature of their professional career. Such trainings help grow both professionally and personally. No such training is provided to the teachers. Just after their selection, they are asked to work on their posts or are given just a week or a month-long training in which they are rarely taught anything about professional ethics and personality grooming. The only bit of training they are given encompasses a few teaching methodologies and skills, and that is also mostly based on traditional and outdated methodologies which are hardly used in the developed countries these days. The teachers are not trained in line with the modern teaching methods and approaches which are used currently in the West. In this regard, the most important step is that every selected batch of teachers should be given a similar long-term training in proper well-established academies as are provided to the BMJs. A significant initiative, in this connection, has recently been taken by the Punjab Higher Education Commission. Reports are appearing in the media that the PHEC is going to launch three teacher-training academies in Punjab. This is a good step initiative of the PHEC. However, the real fruit of these teacher-trainings can be obtained only if they are based on long-term training patterns as are used for the BMJs. Short-term trainings will definitely help the teachers, but they will help them only in terms of teaching methods not in terms of grooming their personalities which is very important if one really wants that the teaching profession should attain the same glory in Pakistan which is expected from this noble profession.

The third important factor in the grooming of BMJ is national and international exposure they obtain during their job tenure. They are posted to different areas all across the country after every three years where they come across various situations and people. This enhances their exposure to life and provides them a better understanding to life as well as the skills of dealing with different situations. Similarly, they are also sent for trainings at international levels. No such practices are followed in education sector. The teachers in schools and colleges are hardly transferred two to three times in their whole service. The university teachers have no facility of transfer from one university to another. They keep working in the same stagnant pool throughout their career and, hence, cannot get the opportunity of working in different contexts with different people and learn from them. The important step, in this regard, is that the teachers should also be posted at different stations in their career. However, for that they should also be provided with some residential, transportation and logistics facilities as are provided to the BMJ. Such a practice will not only help in expanding teachers’ exposure but will also enable them to learn more. Similarly, the teachers in universities should also be posted to different universities. It should also be made compulsory for a university teacher to move from one university to another after every three years. In this way, they will serve in many universities in the country in their professional career and will learn more by being in contact with different minds in different universities. Such a practice will also help a lot in curbing the stronghold of a few individuals in educational institutions and will prove helpful in improving the quality of education in Pakistan.

Another important factor in the grooming of BMJ is the myriad of facilities they are provided in the form of lucrative salaries; excellent residential, medical and transportation facilities; education for their children at low cost; and complete transportation and logistics services at the time of their postings. But no such facilities are provided to the teachers. Verbally, the teaching profession is glorified a lot, but we all know that in reality it hardly bears any importance in the minds of our policymakers. In such circumstances, how can one expect to raise the standard of education in Pakistan? Though the teachers are given higher official scales, but they are not provided with the facilities that are given to other government officers. A government officer on an administrative post is entitled to far more facilities than a teacher. It is not realised that a teacher can perform exceptionally well only when she/he is mentally relaxed. How can a teacher learn more and, consequently, teach better when she/he remains continuously engaged in tuition work in order to meet her/his financial needs and cannot spend her/his time in reading and attaining more knowledge? Therefore, it is important that the teachers should also be provided with lucrative salaries and other facilities as are provided to the BMJ.

The BMJ make their own policies. Whereas the teachers are rarely consulted when developing educational policies or the matters related to them. Mostly, decisions are taken at the level of bureaucracy without consulting the teachers. Therefore, it is very important that the teachers should also be given an active role in formulating the policies related to education and educational institutions.

In short, if our state and society are seriously interested in raising the standard of education in Pakistan, then they will have to adopt a rigorous selection process for teachers so that the best lot should be selected for the job of teaching. After their selection, they should be given a proper long-term training in a teachers’ academy in a similar way as is given to the bureaucrats and the army officers to enhance their personal and professional skills. The teachers should also be posted to different places throughout their service, but for that they should be provided with all necessary facilities as are given to the administrative officers. The teachers  should also be given an active role in formulating educational policies as well as the policies related to educational institutions. Unless and until such steps are taken, it is very difficult to raise the standards of education in Pakistan.

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