The question that the presenter threw back to the audience had me thinking. Professor Martin Carnoy from Stanford University, who was the resource person for the seminar on Education and Democracy organized by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy asked this question to the audience. It was a reaction to the advices that the Bhutanese audience gave to the teacher who was feeling lost being placed as a primary school teacher in a very remote school after completing the training as a secondary school teacher. The young teacher said, he was everything at this remote school – from sweeper to principal. While he knew that the job as a teacher would be difficult, he didn’t imagine it to be as challenging as it was, as he experienced. He said, ‘I am still feeling lost.’ There are students from classes PP to two. He takes classes PP and 1 simultaneously, which is extremely hard. Not knowing how to tackle the challenge, he consulted the parents of those children. The parents thought he should beat their children in order to discipline them. However, he did not do that.
He lamented that he was trained to teach secondary school students and not primary school students. He felt he was not dong justice to his students, feeling incapable of how to teach them, despite having a curriculum on his desk, right in front of him. It didn’t help. Then he didn’t teach at all for one whole week. He didn’t share if it got a little better after that; he concluded by saying that he still felt lost.
Anyway, to this, Dr. Dorji Tshering from Royal University of Bhutan, Dasho Neten Zangmo from Anti-corruption Commission of Bhutan, and Aum Deki Choden from Early Learning Centre told him that he should not give up. They said that he should take it as an opportunity and if he has the will to try, there will be a way. It is to this advice that Professor Martin gave an example: if your Suzuki car got a problem, would you take it to a mechanic who had not dealt with Suzuki car, saying that he will figure out a way? He said, we never do that. We actually take it to the person who knows how to fix it – who has actually done it before. That is where the pertinent question of, ‘is automobile more important than our children?’ came in. I think we should all ask ourselves this question in this day and time when education has come to be the single most important quality in life that actually helps making better decisions, and thus having better lives. We should not leave it to the chance that somehow it will happen, that a day will come when the teacher who is not actually trained for it will figure out a way. The young teacher’s another comment was that his placement was all jumbled up. I think our government should know exactly how many teachers we want at primary, secondary and tertiary level annually. Then, the teacher training institutes should take trainees according to that need. Anyway, if you care enough for your children to be educated by the teachers who are trained exactly to give them the best education, depending on their age and locality, you should make yourself heard.