Teachers are experiencing harsh reality
If education is the backbone of a nation, the teacher will be the builder of that enlightened society and thus, of the entire civilization of humanity, present, and future. Without the active cooperation of the teacher's wholehearted efforts, reconstruction of a nation will merely be a nightmare. At present, we are going through a global pandemic. Do we ever think about the miserable plights of the non-government teachers during the pandemic situations of Covid-19 in Bangladesh? Since 17 March 2020, all the educational institutes remain close in our country. Very few people can perceive their untold pangs and sufferings. But, even now the picture of the story remains unchanged.
Although teachers have to play multi-dimensional roles as role models, mentors, facilitators, and problem-solvers, very few can evaluate their integrity and honesty regarding their contribution. The unpredictable pandemic circumstances of Covid-19 have also led the non-government teachers to an uncertain future where the lockdown situation has sped up their painful life journey.
How many authorities of the non-government educational institutes could pay their teacher's monthly honorarium and how many months they could pay whereas many of the educational institutes had to close because of the financial crisis? Many of them are also going in the same direction and the rest of them are waiting for the good days. But who knows when the good days will come?
Can't we imagine their awful lives and livelihoods during the pandemic situations? Most of them belong to the lower middle-class; they can't either raise their hands openly for charities or even they can't involve any sort of inhumane works and what they can to earn something with sweet labor, dignity, and honesty as well. Still, their journey remains questioning.
Unpredictable Covid-19 has forced the people of the world to reshuffle their entire education system. It has now shifted from a traditional platform to online-based. Nevertheless, relationships have been altered by the avoidance of direct contact with the learners, and very few educational institutes in Bangladesh can go through the current trends because of the undeveloped infrastructure, lack of logistic support, and technical know-how.
Physical activity has become a vital factor to prevent mental disorders during this pandemic as teachers have experienced higher levels of distress because of the workload generated during the lockdown. To prevent health problems among the teachers, in future similar situations, it would be mandatory to facilitate the practice of physical activity at home. Otherwise, online educational methods would be a hazardous phenomenon for their physical and mental health.
It is the irony of fate that many of the non-government teachers have already lost their job-the only earning source; many of them have changed their profession from teaching to fruit sellers, auto-rickshaw pullers, food providers, and many more only to survive with their families though they don't deserve like that. They are now looking forward like the skylark when it rains, a sign of good fortune.
Wouldn't it be better for them? The entire nation is now in trouble. We need to think about where our pride is when the teachers have to starve day after day. Where is our pride when we see them pulling rickshaw or hawking in the street or somewhere else and when they become victimized of Covid-19 or any other diseases and die from lack of food, nutrition, and proper treatment?
It is the harsh reality whether we acknowledge it or not. Among the different professions, non-government teachers are the worst victim of Covid-19 in Bangladesh--considering their joblessness, healthcare capacity, limited resources, poverty, environmental factors, social structure, norms and so on. Although we belong to the same vessel of our life journey, the status shows the difference. But why? The rich men become richer, the upper-middle-class goes down to the lower middle class, the lower middle class becomes the poor and the poor man gradually becomes the ultra-poor during the Covid-19. So, what will be our non-government teacher's life race status midst of this pandemic?
Teachers not only think about their responsibilities for children's education and well-being but also for essential child care. Haven't we forgotten their hardships and contributions to nation-building? It is time to give returns regarding their contributions by stretching our helping hands. But we can never understand their stresses, frustrations, burdens, satisfaction, and joys. Can we ever think about their struggling lives? Only we can utter few questions such as: What challenges do teachers face in general? What new challenges and hardships do teachers face since 17 March 2020? And what kinds of support can help teachers to be more effective to improve their lifestyle?
We should be considerate. Without ensuring the fundamental needs for the vulnerable groups of the society, we can't mitigate the socioeconomic crisis and mental stress because of the COVID-19 lockdown from our society. It will further create more unemployment problems, deprivation, hunger, vandalism, and social conflicts as well. Though criticism is never-ending, only a positive approach can change everything. If there is no positive feedback; if the government doesn't ensure the safeguarding of the affected teachers during the pandemic, it will incur further damage on education sector in the long run.
In fact, we are prone to be optimists. We like to weave our own dreams with the wire of golden hopes amongthe thousands of shattered desires. Now we are waiting for the supernatural "Albatross"; the bird of good luck will come to our country and take away all of our misfortunes and save our countrymen from the terrible clutch of Covid-19. Only God knows when it will come!
Rana Dutta is Assistant Deputy