The suffering of teachers amidst pandemic

Capstone COVID-19 Education Health Pandemic

Teachers have been suffering since the past one year from salary to health.

Ahmedabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the education sector globally. Six million teachers in India work as front-line workers to ensure that the learning continues. When the school switched to online mode, it fell on the shoulders of teachers to learn technical skills without any training.  With more than a year of online classes, the situation remains the same.

A Teacher’s job is considered as one of the most tedious jobs. Teachers, along with grading assignments also have to ensure that the students are learning to their best ability. Not only teachers have to communicate with parents, they have to make sure the class is engaging for students. Teachers said that their responsibilities have not decreased but surely their income has.

Manjula Parmesh, a teacher said, “I don’t know much about technology or it’s usage.. I only  know how to receive and make  a call and a little bit of WhatsApp. Now the situation is very different, I had to learn to use a phone in depth in order to take classes online.”

Dharni Vora, a primary school teacher,  a single mother and the sole earning member of the family, said, “The schools are paying me half  the salary which makes it difficult for me  to pay bills and look after my pregnant daughter.”

She added further, “It is literally very difficult to pay bills and carry on with household chores. I started skipping food. There is no financial support from any relative or anybody as it is a difficult time for them too. Surviving on a half salary is very difficult.”

Teachers regard this profession as  very stressful at times. Creating an effective lesson plan, setting out curriculum framework and finally achieving the “learning objectives” involves a lot of work at every stage. At each stage, a teacher aims to deliver the best of their teaching abilities. The stress levels of educators are often high, not just in India but across the globe. 

According to the study published in the Journal of School Psychology, only six percent of middle school teachers reported low levels of stress and high coping ability, indicating that 94 percent of middle school teachers experience high levels of stress. 

According to the research carried out by me, it almost gave the same results. 

60 percent of teachers said yes, to the question- “Do they feel any pressure because of their job?”. 47 percent of teachers out of which think of quitting their job as per the survey.   

Even after all the stress faced by teachers, shockingly 65 percent of teachers said no to changing their profession when asked – “ Would you change your profession?”60% of teachers are bothered by students’ behaviour.

Miss Nivedita teacher of Vivekananda school said, “It is difficult for me to know where the students are lagging and what things they are not getting in a good manner because sometimes either there  is a network issue or sometimes they are not attending the regular classes.  Sometimes it becomes stressful because of this.”

On other hand Dharni Vora is struggling to keep her job safe.

“My husband died, since then I have been working and taking care of my children. since they were very young. I had no option but to work. Till today I have not taken a single day off for myself. I can’t afford to retire, I have to keep working as long as I’m alive”, said Dharni Vora, a teacher

She added later, “ During this time, I often felt sick.  I had to ask for some cut off on Hospital bills as I didn’t have sufficient money to pay for my treatment. There was no support from the administration at all. During this time, I forgot one line of rhyme, and the parents complained to the school. As a result of which, I was threatened by the school for my job. So, for me keeping my job was also a big task.” 

Mrs Manjula, a teacher said, “In online classes you can’t be sure about whether the children are studying or watching television or playing.Online classes can be one-sided teaching as teachers are not certain as to whether all children are paying attention or not.”,

Online classes are not only stressful for teachers but students as well, as they admit to falling into the temptation of other activities. 

Vishwa Bhalani studying in class eight said, “ Many things distract me during online class, one of them being the calls.”

Khushi Patel, a student of class 10th, attending online classes admitted she uses  social media during her online classes.

 Aarav Patel, another student studying in class eightsaid, “My teachers introduce new games and stories to make the class interesting.”

Ashvin Kumar, secretary of the teachers association, acknowledged the teacher’s pain and said, “We  have been doing fabulous work despite everything.”

 Further, he added,  “Teacher’s  were forced to resign in many schools. Those teachers turned to online classes and some joined work from home. It was not an easy time for them,but they somehow managed it without letting it affect the student’s education.”

He ended by saying, “MHRD and the education department would surely come up with some teacher upliftment programs in the coming days.”

Solution: School authorities can set up workshops and support programs to minimize teacher stress before it becomes overwhelming down the line. Training and awareness programs about common mental health issues can also improve the health outcomes of students and teachers, and help reduce anxiety. Building teacher support groups to help each other may reduce a great amount of stress. Central and State governments need to take actions like appointing counselors in each school conducting a regular mental health session for students as well as for the teachers.

School personnel play a vital role in providing support and watching out for warning signs in teachers and students who face issues. For a teacher to teach effectively and for a student to grasp and learn effectively, both must be of sound mental health.

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