“Education of all, Education for all” is the motto of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), which is an Indian programme, mandated by the 86th amendment to the Constitution of India. The programme is aimed at making education free and compulsory for children between the age group of 6-14. Its objectives are to:
1 Provide free and compulsory elementary education for all children in 6-14 age of group
2 Bridge social regional and gender gaps with the active participation of community in the management of schools at the elementary education level by 2010
3 Enhancing the learning levels of children.
The SSA initiative is led by the Ministry of Human Resource Development from the year 2000-2001 and was in effect from March 3rd.
Teachers of the SSA schools play a crucial role for students’ success and their brighter tomorrow. They work tirelessly to help students acquire knowledge and lay a strong foundation in children’s academic life. They are the key people as their part is to educate and assist students to build their career.
The SSA teachers have considerable responsibility to ensure that students learn and be able to interpret their knowledge and skills to many. In fact, these teachers are second parents to all students.
However, despite the efforts, dedication and commitment, these teachers became helpless when economic crisis came down upon them. In Meghalaya, the SSA teachers’ constant agitation and appeals to the government to not ignore their economic rights and pay their dues only show what hardships they have gone through. There was starvation, exasperation and long struggle among these teachers.
The late release of the salaries to all SSA teachers, particularly the state of Meghalaya, have had a huge impact on teachers’ income and their ability in extending support to their family members. The protest by these teachers at the Secretariat, where seems to be no end puts the government and the education department to reckon on the importance of teachers’ presence, value, and their right to live. The protest also has a huge impact on students’ development in education as well as teachers’ personal career. If this continues, this would put teachers and students in a tough situation.
The protests have ended, finally, as the government has agreed to fulfil their demands. However, the question remains whether the authority has really understood the true worth of the teachers.
One must understand that every teacher is important to students for he or she plays a crucial role in strengthening the building blocks in a child’s life. They are, in fact, like a constant source of light for children as teachers not only help them in acquiring knowledge but also take care of the behavioural development of their students. All those at the helm of power should be grateful to their teachers who helped them become better persons with successful careers.
Teachers matter a lot and it will be better for the government to take initiatives to make the living condition of these teachers better. This will not only be a way to pay the due respect but also help teachers focus on what they do the best — build the future of the nation.
(The author is a visually impaired teacher)