Conduct unbecoming | Daily News

Conduct unbecoming

The teaching profession has always been on top of the pile among all the professions and teachers come to be honoured and venerated by the public due to the special nature attached to the profession. This is because teaching is not only about just imparting of knowledge to the young but due also to their role in guiding the future generations on the right path to be worthy and productive citizens of the country.

In the past the school teacher was a much sought after figure in the villages for advice and counsel and it is the Iskoley Mahattaya (teacher pr Principal) that was called upon the read the first letters of the alphabet to the tiny tots and also feed them their first mouth of rice. During special events such as Avurudu it was common to see village folk lining up before the homes of the Iskoley Mahattayas with sheaves of betel as a mark of respect to the individuals concerned, to receive their blessings and advice.

It is to the teachers that parents turn to discipline their wayward children and entrust them in their care in times of difficulty and domestic trouble. Teachers travelling in public transport are automatically offered their seats not just by students but also by the ordinary passengers familiar with the holder of the profession. In other words, teachers won much respect and possessed a great stature among the public chiefly due to the very essence of the teaching profession and what it stands for.

Alas, the same cannot be said anymore, not of the teaching profession, but about those who don the mantle of teachers in this country. At no time in our post-Independence history has the teaching profession been sullied the way it is today. As of late, teachers have started to conduct themselves in a manner quite unbecoming of such a noble profession.

Teachers are seen more on the streets than inside the classrooms. They have taken a leaf from others in politically-driven trade union movements and have repeatedly been protesting and agitating making unreasonable demands not giving a thought as to what levels to which they are dragging the teaching profession that was so ennobled and deified in the not-so-distant past.

First, it was the salary demand that saw teachers and Principals taking to the streets for months shouting themselves hoarse and using language that one hardly comes to associate with individuals whose main task is the education of youth. Some teachers were seen on television even pushing and shoving officers of the law during one such demonstration. What can one expect from the young charges when their guardians have taken to the war path in this manner?

The Government, with the future of the children’s education in mind had no option but to concede the demand granting an almost threefold increase in the salaries of teachers and Principals. In other words, the teachers won their demands by holding their charges to ransom. Could such a development ever have been envisioned in the past where the children used to worship their teachers considering themselves as Guru Deviyos?

After winning this salary windfall, the teachers have seen it fit to get embroiled in the demand of public sector trade unions for a withdrawal of the Government’s new tax regime. They are joining the protests and strike action once again holding the student population to ransom. This, while students in private and International Schools are having uninterrupted school activity and also going that extra mile to attend additional classes conducted by teachers in these schools to ensure top results at the exams.

The Government teachers in their greed for more have lost sight of the fact that it is the children of the poor who are being sent to State-run schools and from whose taxes the teachers’ education had been paid for.

Even at this late stage the teachers ought to take cognizance of their duties and desist from joining any trade union action orchestrated by political parties whose main agenda is to destabilize the economy at a time the Government is on the cusp of receiving the US$ 2.9 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid package. Will the teachers who plan to join the strike pause to consider the consequences of their actions? What message will a continuous work stoppage that is being planned send to other international donors who are bound to extend their support once the IMF deal is sealed?

Political and social stability is a sine qua non for international financial assistance. The teachers could not be unaware of this cardinal fact. Do the striking teachers like to see a bankrupt economy where even their own children will suffer? As educated men and women teachers are expected to see the bigger picture in its true perspective unlike others, instead giving into parochial considerations. They ought to see the current protest wave in its right context - a clear case of undermining the Government’s efforts to stabilize the economy and plunge the country into chaos. Do the teachers want to be partners in such a project?



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