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Teachers In India

Teacher Motivation in India

Teacher Motivation in India

Reviewing the progress in the elementary education sector on 21 February 2005, the Prime Minister of India said that he was pained to note, “Only 47 out of 100 children enrolled in class I reach class VIII, putting the drop out rate at 52.79 per cent.” This, he said was “unacceptably high” and attributed the high dropout rate to “lack of adequate facilities, large scale absenteeism of teachers and inadequate supervision by local authorities” (The Hindu, New Delhi Print Edition, 22 February 2005). This is not the first time that teachers and local authorities have been blamed for India poor performance in elementary education1; civil society organizations and the media have highlighted the issue of accountability for over twenty years. Yet, it is only in the last three to four years that political leaders and administrators have begun to openly admitted that motivation and accountability among teachers and local administrators is a big problem and that while data on enrolment is impressive most children leave primary school without learning the basic skills of reading and writing.

The roots of the problem of lack of accountability and poor motivation among teachers and local administrators lie in the peculiar trajectory taken by the education system. In the early 1950s, education was a privilege of the few who could afford it. With democratization, education became universally accessible and more and more children started enrolling in schools. The 1960s witnessed a sharp increase in the number of schools – government and private. This was also a period when the relatively well to do moved their children out of government schools and the perception gained ground that regular government primary schools were ‘schools for the poor’.

Right through the 1980s and the 1990s, the government focused all energies on getting children into schools through social mobilization and enrolment drives. Data on enrolment became the principle tool for monitoring progress and teachers were expected to show annual increase in enrolment. If we look at government statistics through the 1980s and 1990s, nearly all states reported a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of over 100. The all-India figure for 1991 was 102.74, with boys accounting for 116.61 and girls 88.09. This was also a period when the government introduced the no-detention policy in order to prevent children from dropping out. Teachers were expected to retain children in school and promote them from one grade to the next. Effectively, this implied that the system ignored what happened inside a classroom and whether children were learning. Teachers and the administration got away with enrolment figures and data on the percentage of children who cleared terminal examinations. Growing political polarization, based on religious and ethnic identities too left its mark on education. State governments began to appoint aspirants based on their community and caste identities.

The education also system was more differentiated through the decade of the 1990s - public, aided and private; formal and alternative; permanent and transitional; and the pedestrian schools coexisting with institutions of excellence. From being respected and revered members of the community, teachers moved into roles of disempowered government functionaries relegated to the bottom few layers of the administrative hierarchy. Even as the pay scales of formal school teachers improved significantly, their accountability towards children and their parents went down. The pressure for globlisation on the one hand and a resource crunch on the other cleared the way for a new genre of teachers, who have since come to be known as Para teachers, contract teachers, volunteer teachers and/or gurujis. The professional status of the teacher gradually eroded not only for the community of stakeholders but also in the eyes of the teachers themselves generating a sense of resigned cynicism in all sections of society.

The government schools continue to provide poor quality education and the media and social leaders continue to blame the teacher. The very survival of teaching as a profession is in question as the social status of the teacher continues to erode. India faces a crisis of confidence with respect to teachers (and practically all government workers and service providers) and teacher motivation is, indeed, a national issue.
Different types of schools in the formal system

The schooling system is not homogenous in India. Government schools are run by the central or state governments or by local bodies. Different types of schools cater to a widely different clientele.

Government Schools
The Government of India, state governments, local self-government institutions (panchayats) in rural areas and municipal bodies in urban areas run government schools. Overall, the relative share of various types of management in schools is 46% (central and state), 38% local bodies and 16 per cent private (aided and unaided). These shares vary from one state to the other. The last 15 years have witnessed the creation of different kinds of government schools, namely:

  • Formal schools – primary, upper-primary, high and secondary schools run by state governments or by private trusts and corporate bodies.
  • Transitional schools – Education Guarantee Scheme Schools (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh), Rajiv Gandhi Pathashala (Rajasthan), and Shishu Shiksha Kendras (West Bengal) managed by local bodies or by state governments.
  • Bridge Courses (residential and non-residential) – short-term schools for older, out-of-school children to reach age-specific grade / class.
  • Alternative Schools – six-hour and four-hour schools, mobile schools.
  • Ashram Shalas – residential formal schools for tribal children financed by the Ministry for Tribal Welfare.
  • Residential Schools – for disadvantaged groups like the Scheduled Castes, financed by the ministry concerned for the welfare of disadvantaged communities.

Teachers in Government Schools
Different norms and rules govern teachers in the various kinds of government schools mentioned above.

Regular teachers are full-time, permanent employees of the government. They are governing by strict entry and qualification norms (1to 12 years of general education and minimum two years of diploma or degree in education). They are covered by a range of welfare benefits and get a pension after retirement. They can be promoted from a teacher to a head teacher and even a supervisor/administrator/teacher trainer.

Para teachers or contract teachers are appointed on a contract basis by the local body (panchayat or municipal body). Eligibility requirements differ from one state to the other. They are not entitled to any welfare or pension benefits. They are not eligible for promotion and are appointed for a specific school. Para teachers in West Bengal are women above the age of 40 – those technically not eligible for formal government employment.

Guest teachers are local resource personnel called upon by a school to teach as a stopgap arrangement. There are no norms for such appointments.

Instructors are appointed to conduct classes in bridge courses and some alternative schools. In the absence of specified norms and these appointments are essentially ad hoc and on a fixed term contract.

Private Schools

Unlike government schools, private individuals or institutions set up and run private schools. These can be aided or unaided.

Private aided schools

Private individuals or trusts establish private aided schools. They are recognized and funded by the government and teachers are paid according to state government norms. All teachers in private aided schools are “formal teachers”. Consequently, they must conform to specified qualification norms.

Private unaided schools

These schools are owned and funded privately with no state support. For purposes of recognition, they have to ensure adequate pupil-teacher ratio, conform to certain qualifications regarding recruitment of principal and teachers and assure their financial viability. However, all management decisions are taken by the school, including recruitment procedures and teacher salaries. They frame their own admission rules and fee structure for students. The tuition fee may vary from Rs.30 to Rs.3000 to 4000 per month depending on who is accessing the school and where. As distinct from government schools, studies reveal that private unaided schools are largely urban based and enroll more boys and upper-caste students. The sixth All India Education Survey (NCERT, 1993) revealed that 38 per cent of the growth in enrolment of boys was in private unaided schools as against 8 per cent for that of girls. There is a similar bias in the enrolment of children from the backward castes as well as those in rural areas. The system prevalent in Rajasthan mirrors the national norm, namely:

• Secondary Schools where Grade I (Graduate or Post graduate with teacher training degree) teachers are appointed
• Upper Primary School where Grade II teachers (Graduate with teacher training degree) are appointed
• Primary School where Grade III teachers (12 years of general education and diploma in teacher education)
• Shiksha Karmi School – where Para teachers known as Shiksha Karmi are appointed.
• Rajiv Gandhi Pathashala (primary) – where contact teachers are appointed with a minimum of 12 years of general education.
• Alternative School (primary) where instructors are appointed for a specified duration
• Madrasas (Muslim community schools, primary level)
• Residential camps for out-of-school children to get back to the formal stream (government and NGO)

Teachers - An Overview

The 1964 National Education Commission report, penned by eminent educationist Dr. D.S. Kothari, comprehensively addressed most aspects of teacher management, motivation and performance. The report noted:

1. There should be no teacher at the primary stage that has not completed the secondary school course and does not have two years of training.

2. It is necessary to improve promotional prospects in order to attract and retain talent.

3. Qualified and trained teachers in primary schools should be considered for promotion as headmasters and inspectors of schools.

4. Salaries should be reviewed every five years and dearness allowances (linked to the cost of living index) should be the same as other government servants at the same salary.

5. The government must establish a welfare fund.

6. Retirement benefits, based on the principles of uniformity and parity, must be provided along with a high rate of interest on provident fund of teachers.

7. Minimum facilities required for efficient work must be provided (no details) – residential accommodation in rural areas.

8. Teachers in tribal areas should be given special allowances, residential accommodation and provision for education of their children in residential schools.

9. National awards.

10. Remove the isolation of teacher training from ground situations.

This report has been the reference point for all subsequent work on teachers in India. The 1986 National Policy on Education (NPE) and the supporting document - Programme of Action of 1992 - tried to reframe some of the main provisions of the landmark 1964 report. The NPE 1986 devotes a section on “The Teacher”:

The status of the teacher reflects the socio-cultural ethos of a society; it is said that no people can rise above the level of its teachers. The government and the community should endeavour to create conditions that will help motivate and inspire teachers on constructive and creative lines. Teachers should have the freedom to innovate, and to devise appropriate methods of communication and activities relevant to the needs, capabilities and concerns of the community.

The methods of recruiting teachers will be reorganised to ensure merit, objectivity and conformity with spatial and functional requirements. The pay and service conditions of teachers have to be commensurate with their social and professional responsibilities and with the need to attract talent to the profession. Efforts will be made to reach the desirable objective of uniform emoluments, service conditions and grievance-removal mechanisms for teachers throughout the country. Guidelines will be formulated to ensure objectivity in the posting and transfers of teachers. Systems for teachers’ evaluation – open, participative and data based – will be created and reasonable opportunities of promotion to higher grades provided. Norms of accountability will be laid down with incentives for good performance and disincentives for non-performance. Teachers will continue to play a crucial role in the formulation and implementation of educational programmes.” (National Policy on Education 1986 (with modification undertaken in 1992), MHRD, GOI, 1992, part IX, pages 43-44) While reiterating the fundamentals of the 1964 report, the Programme of Action of 1992 stressed four important issues:

1. Pay and service conditions of teachers have to be commensurate with their social and professional responsibilities and with the need to attract talent to the profession.

2. Teachers’ association must play a significant role in upholding professional integrity, enhancing the dignity of the teacher and curbing professional misconduct.

3. Teachers’ education is a continuous process and the pre-service and in-service components are inseparable. To this end, DIETs must be established to organize pre-service and in-service training. As DIETs are established, sub-standard institutions will be phased out. Secondary Teachers’ Training Colleges will be upgraded to complement the SCERTs.

4. The NCTE will be mandated to accredit institutions for teachers’ education and provide guidance regarding curricula and methods.

Educational, social and economic profile of teachers

“The primary school teacher is doing more difficult work than the middle or secondary level School teacher. The primary teacher has to start from zero, whereas the secondary teacher gets ‘ready students’ they just have to complete the course. It is unfortunate that the primary School teacher does more work, and receives less pay. Quite apart from this salary, the teacher is called a Grade III teacher. The definition by itself is lowly. The allocation of power is faulty. The person who builds the foundation is called ‘grade three’. This is an insulting way of grading a person. It creates dissatisfaction and is the cause of de-motivation too.”

Teachers in primary schools are expected to have completed 10 to 12 years of general education and acquired either a diploma or a degree in education. A two-year training programme was introduced in the 1950s and separate non-university teachers’ training establishments were set up for this purpose CABE, a statutory body that approves education policy and norms for the appointment of teachers), and the NCTE, another apex body established in 1973 that makes norms for teachers’ education, have stipulated that 12 years of general education plus two years of professional training are mandatory for appointing primary schoolteachers.

Pay and non-salary benefits
Teachers’ salaries in India are comparable with public sector employees with similar qualification. Furthermore, at 3.6 times the average per capita income, salaries of primary schoolteachers in India are better than those in middle-income countries as Chile, Costa Rica and Thailand, although worse than other low-income countries such as Kenya, Malawi and Zambia.

Entry-level salaries of schoolteachers are comparable with those of other professionals with the same educational qualifications (Table 3.11). Since 1997 (when the Fifth Pay Commission revised the salaries of government employees across the country), salaries of government teachers have become extremely attractive. While nearly all the teachers we met during the course of the study appreciated this increase, we found better salaries alone were not enough to enhance motivational levels.
The entry-level salary and allowances of a primary school teacher at 2001 value in 2003 is Rs. 90996 per annum, while the GDP per capita for India for the same period is US $ 462 at 2001 value in 2003 (HDR, 2003). This implies that the salary of a primary school teacher is 4.59 times the per capita GDP of the country.

The maximum salary of a trained teacher after 20 years of service may be nearly four times the entry-level salary. The government also provides fixed non-salary benefits like actual medical reimbursement, advances/loans for houses, retirement benefits (provident fund and/or pension on retirement @ 50% of the last pay drawn plus dearness allowances as declared by the government from time to time). Automatically, teachers move from one pay scale to the next after 9, 18 and 27 years of “satisfactory service”.

Incentives and awards
One of the ironies of the Indian education system is that there is practically no incentive for performers. Teachers move up the ladder according to seniority. The government had introduced a range of awards for teachers in 1950. Discussions with teachers and stakeholders revealed that selection for awards now rarely depended on performance on the ground and was more a function of a teacher’s ability to lobby with the decision-makers. They also informed us that the award system had become highly politicised in the last 15 years and the situation had deteriorated.

Job Satisfaction and Motivation
The issue of job satisfaction and motivation is explored from different dimensions. This selection start with the reasons for choosing and whether teachers are happy with their vocation, followed by teacher’s voices on why they are satisfied or not satisfied. It then explores what head teachers have to say about the motivation levels of teachers and the challenges they face in sustaining motivation levels among the teachers in their respective schools. We conclude by exploring what could be done to motivate teachers and the role of the head teachers, the government and the larger community.

Reasons for choosing teaching as a career:
“I wanted to become a Physical Training Instructor (PTI). Since jobs are difficult to get, I applied for the post of grade III teacher also. I got both the jobs but the call letter for PTI came late. So I decided to become a teacher (family pressure was also there).”

“I was selected for the job of a patwari (village level revenue official who maintains records and collects revenue). During training, I was told by the trainer that society always sees a patwari as a corrupt person even though he may be honest. I did not want the label of a corrupt person so I left the training half way. Those days a teacher was viewed with great respect in the community so I changed my profession.”

“I did not want to work but after I got married, my husband was posted in a remote place where I did not have much to do. Therefore, I applied for the job. I did a B. Ed and my marks were good. I had good contacts as my father was well connected. I got this job by luck. I am enjoying it, as the salary is good. I can buy things for myself and for the house and have lot of spare time in my hands. It is also non-transferable (outside the district). It is the best profession for women – I can strike a balance between family and job. I do not have much tension from the HM and enjoy a good understanding with my colleagues.”

Detailed interviews and focus group discussion revealed that some teachers chose the career on the rebound when they could not pursue their preferred career choice. A few teachers made a conscious choice because of the inherent “nobility” of the profession or inspiration from parents or a teacher. However, there is a significant difference between men and women. Women seemed to have picked the profession for different reasons, namely, respectability, security in addition, less work, “can also manage my home and house”. Women teachers talked about how this was the preferred choice of their parents or husband. Some of them took it on because they had nothing else to do, even though their first choice might have been to be a homemaker. The responses of women reflect in gender relations in society – with women citing different reasons for choosing the profession. Teachers pointed out that given the dismal employment situation in the state and the steep increase in the salary of schoolteachers, a number of rural youth were attracted to the profession. Few male teachers admitted that this profession was demanding and left them no time to pursue supplementary vocations. Some male teachers also saw teaching as a stopgap arrangement while preparing for civil service examinations (including entry into the police force, secretarial services, revenue services etc.).

Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction and morale are highly inter-related. To my mind, job satisfaction and morale require a certain basic seriousness about what one is doing. Thereafter, the level of satisfaction or morale may decrease due to prevailing work conditions or other factors. However, government schoolteachers lack this basic seriousness. There is a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration among them but it does not generate any action. Surprisingly, they do not seem interested enough to do anything about it. The blanket perception, therefore, is that the teachers are not satisfied. However, when interventions are designed for them and opportunities provided, one group responds enthusiastically (say about 70%). The remaining 30% still respond cynically.

If the family or community considers teaching a noble profession, the teacher will naturally be more motivated. When someone does their job well, their status in society increases. Until recently, villagers had respect for teachers. Though rich people have also reached the villages, the respect given to officers and the moneyed class is a surface phenomenon. They are driven by fear or sycophancy. The teacher is more respected and in a deeper way. I can give you a very good example: Kalyanpura village is in Chaksu block. Girls here were hardly sent to school. Their numbers were minimal. We started Pehchan Shala. The teacher appointed identified all the girls herself. She built a rapport with the community. Everyone was full of praise for her work. The villagers themselves organized her salary. She had to leave when she got married. A huge party was thrown for her and that day was called Balika Utsav (festival for girls). About 700 girls from all the nearby Pehchan Shalas participated. The villagers organized everything themselves. The function cost almost Rs 20,000!

Discussion with teachers revealed that most of them had not really thought about their vocation as a teacher. Their immediate response was, consequently, superficial: “all is well” and “we are satisfied”. However, this initial response was invariably contradicted as dialogue with them proceeded to deeper levels. In fact, the responses began to come from the heart when the investigators shut their notebooks and the discussions became less formal but more serious.

This is an important issue for researchers. There is little point in asking people to respond to a series of questions without providing space for serious reflection. There was a mismatch between:

• Responses to multiple-choice questions and more in-depth exploration of issues through discussions;

• “Formal responses” in the personal statements and the detailed open-ended responses;

• Casual conversations with teachers before /after the interview and during the formal interviews.

We have five teachers in our school. One of them is a dakia, who responds to enquiries that come from above and dispatches data / information to the district or block office. The other is a halwai, who manages the midday meal. The third one is perpetually on training and the fourth is a clerk who has to maintain accounts and pay salaries. Who, then, is left to manage five classes and teach around 200 children?”

The dissonance between what they ticked in the questionnaires and structured interview schedules and what they said during informal interactions was marked when teacher motivation was discussed. We did not notice any significant difference between teachers in rural and urban schools or between men and women.

Teachers had a nuanced understanding of motivation – almost all of them admitted that “motivation” is a dynamic feeling; it changes from time to time. They linked it to the larger environment in which they work and how this affected their sense of self-worth. Their response of the teachers can be categorized as under:

Emotional level:
Teachers complained about feeling demeaned when they were sent out to collect data or for door-to-door polio campaigns. They argued that their job was not do research surveys and campaigns for the government and felt that when they had to do so it affected their social status. The government’s decision to hire Para teachers was a further blow to their self-worth. They felt they were no longer discharging a unique, special duty and that even untrained hands could do what they had been doing hitherto. It was clear that motivation in this case, like in others, hinged on the emotional energy of people. This intangible dimension of motivation had been ignored in the case of teachers. Their sense of emotional well-being had been disturbed by what they felt was shabby treatment when they were made to run errands like taking letters or doing non-academic duties. Their skills and unique strengths had not been appreciated and there was no positive affirmation and encouragement.

Financial level:
Non-receipt of salaries on time and, in particular, the inability of the administration to release timely travel reimbursements and other payments were cited as reasons for poor motivation. Teachers unanimously felt that timely clearance of dues could improve motivation levels. Many teachers said their motivation levels would rise if they were paid extra for performing additional duties and training, because most of them did not see the latter as opportunity for professional growth.

Physical level:
Improvement in the physical facilities – the infrastructure – of schools was perceived as a factor that influenced motivation levels, but physical infrastructure though necessary was not a sufficient condition. Ensuring one room for each class would work as an instant booster, they said. Cleanliness, transport, furniture, drinking water and toilets (for women teachers) – the list was long.

Academic level:
Nearly all teachers talked at length about the number of training workshops they had to attend and the poor quality of training doled out to them. They discussed the problems they faced in handling a multi-grade situation – where two to three classes had to be managed simultaneously. They explained how subject-specific training to manage multi-grade teaching situations would go a long way in enhancing motivation levels of teachers. Some teachers talked about access to better teaching-learning material (TLM).

Role of the head master / head teacher:
Prof. VV John, an eminent educationist once said, “If you have a good head teacher, then you need not do anything. But if you do not have a good head teacher, there is nothing that you can do to turn a school around.” This observation was reflected in practically all our discussions with senior administrators. The head master (HM) or head teacher was not just the leader but also a role model. Administrators said the HM’s role in maintaining discipline (regular attendance of teachers, functioning and teaching) and enhancing motivation levels was important. They admitted that the all-pervasive bureaucratic indifference or inability had rubbed off on the school system too, which had little power to do anything about a teacher who refused to teach. The ability of the HM to provide leadership was constrained by the larger system in which she/he had to function. Yet, a good HM could make a big difference. The tragedy of Rajasthan is that 4,364 posts of HMs are lying vacant and a senior teacher manages many schools. Equally, the head teachers are not given any special training or orientation besides being expected to do a number of administrative duties, including disbursing salaries and approving travel claims.

What administrators say about teacher motivation?
Teachers relax when they get a job. They feel they have achieved their goal once they get into government service. They do not want to work in rural areas – all of them want an urban posting. They lack motivation and commitment to their work.

Teachers are victims of the transfer and posting phenomenon. They have no security of tenure and are constantly haunted by the fear of being transferred. They have to acquire godfathers for protection. Once they develop these contacts and linkages, then there is not need for them to do their job seriously.

There is no database of all teachers at the elementary level or the details on their training. They are sent for training in an ad-hoc manner. Some may attend several training programmes only to escape going to school while others may not attend even one.

The biggest problem is that we have more than required teachers in urban schools and a huge shortage in rural schools. Even if we have to ensure two teachers in each rural school, a large number of teachers would have to be shifted from urban to rural areas. This will lead to strikes and protests by the teacher’s unions.

We met two kinds of administrators. The first group was empathetic to teachers and talked about systemic issues affecting regular teaching and learning in schools. They did not see teachers as villains but cogs in a giant wheel that were but trapped in a hierarchical system rife with corruption. The second group saw teachers as work shirkers and blamed them entirely for poor quality education. The latter was unwilling to explore the systemic issues and insisted that appointing low paid contract teachers was the answer to all the problems of education. It was as however, the two groups were talking about two entirely different worlds. Unfortunately, the latter worldview was more popular among senior civil servants, with a few notable exceptions. We found greater empathy and a more nuanced understanding of the problem of teachers in the lower echelons.

What stakeholders have to say?
We interviewed a range of stakeholders – former teachers, former administrators, NGO leaders and educationists involved in research and training and so on (list annexed). Each one of them had something to say. Reproduced below are some insights:

• If one were seriously dissatisfied about one’s job, one would do something about it. Perhaps, teachers are not really engaged with their profession and their work or feel deeply enough about it.

• The system is such that if you do not take the initiative you cannot go wrong, but if you do then you could get into trouble.

• There is monotony in school teaching. A teacher can be motivated on two things – excited about the way the child’s mind works or linked to the large social context in which schools function when both are absent then teachers have no reason to be motivated or excited with their vocation.

• Teachers are not at all committed to their profession. They treat teaching as a means/ instrument to achieving something they value more– like fewer working hours, being with the family, a good salary. Teaching itself is not a commitment or a passion for a majority of teachers.

• Remuneration is an important factor in teacher motivation. However, by itself, it does not do much. It can be said that it is necessary for teacher motivation but it is not a sufficient condition. A very low remuneration is definitely a de-motivating factor. However, a higher pay does not result in increased motivation. I do not think that a system of cash benefits can increase motivation.

• The workload is tremendous. There are many non-teaching tasks. In the current year, teachers have been involved in educational survey (SSA survey, child tracking), pulse polio (10 days a year), two elections (state, panchayat), electoral list revision and BPL survey. Additionally, the District Collector also involves them in several district-based assignments – working with self-help groups, family planning, drought relief / food-for-work programme etc. They are also co-opted in work related to the mid-day meal scheme, such as keeping records and management of the scheme.

• Training programmes are done with little advanced planning. Without prior schedule, they cannot do the training properly.

• Teachers now spend less time in schools. Actual teaching time is decreasing.

• Teachers have now become more vocal and can articulate their aspirations with the ‘right’ people. They are closer to active politics, can intimidate officials citing political connections.

• Unlike in the past, teachers have no personal linkage with the community. They depended on the local people when there were no facilities. Now better means of transport are available. For example, a teacher comes to school on a motorcycle and leaves after the day’s work is done.

It is difficult to synthesize the observations of stakeholders. We have used their insights and experience to understand this complex issue. Again, the stakeholders, (like the administrators) we interacted with, can be divided in two broad groups. One group understood and appreciated the systemic issues that inform the question of teacher motivation. The other looks at teachers in isolation, as a cadre of self-seeking government servants who are not committed to their work.

Teacher Motivation – What Are The Issues?

As we were preparing for a focus group discussion with teachers in Rajasthan, we realize that the word ‘motivation’ meant different things to different people. We casually asked the teachers if they could tell us who a “motivated teacher” was. After thinking for a while, one of them said, “A ‘motivated’ teacher comes to school every day, does what he is told and provides information the higher ups want!” The answer put us on the mat! We probed further. Apart from the teachers in all the schools, we posed the question to administrators and stakeholders as well. Nearly all the teachers believed that daily attendance and complying with orders and requests for information were reasonable indicators of motivation. Administrators at the district level described a motivated teacher as one who was regular, did what she or he was told and was, largely, compliant. Children were nowhere in the picture, nor were the teaching and learning processes. Learning was incidental to the mountain of data they gathered and fed into the system. Enrolment, attendance, mid-day-meal distribution and participation in training programmes and workshops – cold figures – had become the indices of education.

Administrators, at higher levels, associated motivation with:
• Low absenteeism
• Maintaining discipline
• Proper record keeping
• Collection and supply of educational data
• Utilization of funds allocated for teaching and learning material;
• Giving exercises in the classroom and correcting them.

It was worth to noting that the notion of “quality” was linked to efficient management. As a result, obedience and predictability became pervasive values sought in the system. Actual transaction time, classroom processes and learning outcomes of children did not figure in their first response. Further investigation revealed that the percentage of children clearing the terminal examination at the primary level was also an important indicator. For parents and community leaders, discipline in the school and regular teaching served as clinchers. A teacher, who came regularly, stayed in the school for the stipulated time, did not use excessive force (beating, abusive language, shouting and punishment) and taught with interest was, for them, a motivated teacher. The ability of their children to learn to read, write, and pass examinations was another important indicator.

Educationists, on the other hand, argued that a motivated teacher was one who could communicate with the children. He/she drew energy from his/her interaction with the children, was concerned about what and how much they were learning and his/her ability to attract and retain children in the school. They also believed that only a motivated teacher could build a rapport with the parents and the community and go beyond the call of duty to ensure that every single child attended regularly, even if it meant visiting their homes and persuading the parents to send their children to school.

Discussions on motivation, invariably, led to comparisons with private schools. Teachers, administrators and parents quickly pointed out that private schools attached great importance to discipline, regularity and successful results in yearly as well as public examinations (classes 5, 8, 10 and 12). Almost all the teachers we interacted with in the course of this study sent their own children to private schools. They admitted that irregular attendance of teachers was uncommon in private (aided and unaided) schools and that teachers taught for the stipulated hours/periods.

However, when asked why government schools were different, most could not give us any convincing answers. They ended up blaming the system where the dice is loaded against teachers in primary schools.

India is a large country. It is possible that the gap between the educationist’s perception of motivation and that of teachers, administrators and the larger community will be lower in educationally advanced states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. Yet, administrators and the public agree that there is a definite problem with the education system as a whole. Laypersons and the media squarely blame the teachers – citing absenteeism, bad behavior, and politicization of teachers’ unions and, most importantly, lack of professional ethics. Teachers, on the other hand, argue that the system has pushed them to a point where they have to cultivate politicians to avoid frequent transfers or pay huge bribes to get a job. Administrators, sympathetic to teachers, argue that the obsession of the system with data and targets pertaining to enrolment and retention has deflected attention from the children themselves. The more sensitive among them admit that no one is interested in government schools that cater essentially to poor children. Poor parents and communities do not have a voice. Those who have an option and the resources to exercise it, simply send their children to private schools.

The answer to the question of poor motivation lies buried, perhaps, in the labyrinth of a complex education system. This issue was discussed at length in a recent national meeting of educationists, administrators and practitioners. What emerged is an intricate matrix of cause and effect – where one cannot really discern a clear, one-to-one linear correlation.

The key issues pertaining to the motivation of primary school teachers can be summarized as follows:

First, the education system has expanded rapidly and enrolment rates have shot up. However, growth rate in the number of teachers has not kept pace with the rise in enrolment. The classroom has become very complex. Children from extremely poor families and first generation school-goers account for an overwhelming majority of new students in government schools. Most rural schools are multi-grade with one, or, at most two, teachers managing five classes. Teacher-pupil ratios are also high in such schools.

Second, the social distance between the teachers and the children is wide in government schools (which cater to the very poor). Social attitudes and community prejudices play an important role in determining the ability and willingness of teachers to empathies with children and teach them love (PROBE 1999, Mazumdar 2001, Ramachandran et al, 2004). Recent press reports (especially in the last six months) reveal cases of sexual exploitation of girls in rural as well as urban (municipal) schools. Recently (18February, 2005) a headmaster and three teachers were arrested in New Delhi for raping a 14-year-old girl and another teacher was arrested for sexual abuse of young boys. Senior police officials said teachers used abusive language when they talked to/about children from very poor or socially disadvantaged communities. It was as though they were doing a big favour by teaching children from erstwhile “untouchable” communities or very poor migrant communities from other parts of India and Bangladesh.

Studies on classroom processes done under the aegis of the District Primary Education Project also revealed similar caste and community prejudices (Ramachandran (ed) 2004).

Third, teachers lack the skills to manage so much diversity in the classroom. Training programmes for teachers are designed keeping in view the situation in large urban schools where one teacher manages one class. The problems faced by teachers in multi-grade situations, where teacher-pupil ratios are high, are rarely covered in training programmes. Labels like joyful learning and child- centered learning do not mean anything to teachers who have to deal with social diversity, different levels of students and most importantly, children who are undernourished, hungry and frequently ill (Vimala Ramachandran et al, 2004b). Focus group discussion with teachers in Rajasthan revealed that teachers wanted subject-specific training for multi-grade situations. However, most training programmes focus on generic skills. The mismatch between the problems faced by teachers inside the classroom and training programmes designed by administrators and teacher educators (who have very little idea of a multi-grade class) is stark.

Fourth, systemic issues dealing with corruption (payment for transfers/preventing transfers, deputations, appointments, promotions and special assignments) have vitiated the larger teaching environment in the country. Teachers say this has politicised the environment and actual teaching is rarely monitored. Building networks with patrons and supporters is more important. Teachers, who are in leadership positions in trade unions or affiliated to political parties in power, rarely attend school. Continuation in the job and/or in preferred posts depends on the teacher’s ability to strike the right chord with the people in power. As a result, a highly motivated and honest teacher is one who is transferred to difficult areas. He/she is saddled with a number of non-teaching duties and made a scapegoat when the need arises. Therefore, even though there may be no incentives for performing better, it certainly pays to build networks and cultivate godfathers.

Fifth, teachers’ unions and block and district-level administrators’ claim they are asked to do a range of non-teaching tasks which them away from the classroom. For example, the Rajasthan Government had asked teachers to motivate couples for terminal family planning methods. This led to a series of protests by teachers in February 2005. In 2001-2003, the state government directed them to maintain the books of women’s self-help groups and monitor if loan repayments were made on time. District Magistrates rely on teachers to distribute drought or flood relief supplies, and identify beneficiaries for government welfare schemes. Discussions with teachers revealed that while the task of meeting family planning targets may be given to all the teachers, the more difficult and time-consuming non-teaching duties go to teachers seen as dedicated. Teachers with political links or the ones active in trade unions are not given additional duties. Both the central and state governments contest this. Senior administrators in the Government of India point out that less than 5% of the teaching days are taken up by non-teaching duties. Recent DISE data collected information on non-teaching duties and the days spent therein. While state-wise data has not been made public, a recent presentation made by Dr. Arun Mehta (NIEPA, January 2005) indicates that non-teaching duties accounted for only 1.6% of working days. Teachers’ unions and local administrators disagree. They argue that the government may expect teachers to do such work after school hours, but invariably the teachers spend the teaching time performing non-teaching assignments. The problem gets particularly severe during January-March when annual targets (especially, family planning) are reviewed by the district administration.

Sixth, teacher training has picked up since 1994 with almost all teachers expected to attend a range of training programmes every year. Many of these workshops are held during the academic session. Teachers are eligible for compensatory leave if they attend these workshops during vacations. This reduces teaching days. While the training programmes are intended to improve knowledge levels as well as skills – especially in child-centered teaching processes – teachers claim that these programme add little value when the overall teaching environment, the examination system and other aspects of the school remain unchanged. Nearly all the teachers interviewed in Rajasthan said training was a burden - it was neither planned well not did it cater to their needs.

Seventh, teachers and administrators are continuously embroiled in court cases to do with promotions and placements, claiming arrears due to them and disciplinary action-related issues. Administrators explain that a lot of their time do teachers file spent attending to court cases. Teachers argue that they have no option but to go to court for justice. Teacher cadre management is highly politicised – both administrators and ordinary teachers are caught in a web of allegations and counter allegations. This has affected recruitment of new teachers in several states.

Concluding remarks:
In course of the study, we came across teachers who loved children and were highly motivated regardless of where they were posted. These were exceptional people. It was, indeed, humbling to meet teachers who worked hard despite all odds. We came across situations where good teachers received tremendous community support that led to improvement in their teaching and overall results. The reverse was also true. There were villages that had a wonderful teacher in the past but could do little to motivate/support a new teacher who just refused to teach.

The most dismal picture was in schools with only two teachers and many children. Teachers could not cope with the situation and had simply given up. There were teachers who were indifferent to the children and did not really care if they learnt to read and write. They promoted children, maintained records and did what they were asked to do.

We discovered no correlation between motivation levels and teacher qualification, training, residence, gender and pay scale. However, a school with good infrastructure and connectivity could hold back more teachers for more hours. It is difficult to say whether this translates into more instruction time or higher learning levels. As discussed in the opening paragraphs of this paper, teachers said they were motivated – but their understanding of motivation is different from ours. Both teachers and administrators gave a lot importance to daily presence, compiling and sending the necessary data and maintaining discipline. They valued justice and fair play. They were ready to work with administrators and political leaders who they felt were just, and appreciated and rewarded hard work. However, rapport with children, learning levels and actual classroom environment were not seen as being a part of motivation.

These factors did not figure in any discussion with teachers or administrators!

Teacher motivation is a complex issue in Rajasthan, indeed across India. There is virtually no incentive for teachers who go beyond the call of duty and empower their students to learn and move on in life. On the other hand, teachers who network with political leaders and local bureaucrats manage plum postings and, if they are lucky, teachers’ awards too!

Everyone – the different categories of people we spoke to – was of the opinion that 25 to 30% teachers are highly motivated and work very hard regardless of their personal circumstances. Another 30% comply with all the formal requirements – regularity, attendance, data on enrolment and retention, mid-day meal distribution and so on. These teachers have the potential but the system has worn them out. The remaining 40 to 45% can be categorized as ‘indifferent’– they are just not motivated and really do not care.

Strict monitoring – by a highly motivated head master or a block/district official – can tip the scales and ensure better functioning. Given the right stimulus, teachers are known to perform well. The fundamental problem is that this stimulus is lacking. Most educated middle-class professionals – those who form the backbone of the administration and the larger community of stakeholders – have abandoned government schools. Their children study in private aided or unaided schools. They do not have a personal stake in making the system work. Therefore, they just let the system drift along while making sure the data that is fed upwards is acceptable.

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