college students

Several students of mine on Saturday came to meet me. Since I stay near JNU, we decided to go to the campus. For those who may not know, I am teaching a paper on political science at Moti Lal Nehru College, University of Delhi.

Please do not think that I am a permanent teacher. Nor am I an ad-hoc teacher. I am teaching at the NCWEB (The Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board) centre at Moti Lal Nehru College where the teachers are temporarily hired to teach just a paper in a semester. We teach the same paper which is taught at any of the prestigious colleges at Delhi University but our life is not so “prestigious”. Our teaching experience does not get recognized, nor do we get our salary in time. Sometimes, we have to wait for one year after the end of our work. Even the wage is not good enough to pay the room rent.

But we teach under these horrible conditions as we have little choice. Many of our students do not realize that we are equally suffering in the system. They think we are “great” professors at the university.

Despite all these problems, I try to do my best. I teach the same Delhi University syllabus. I try my best to explain the subject to them in their own language. Perhaps, this may be one of many reasons for our intimate relationship.

Early on Saturday morning, the students reached the campus. First, we had ice cream; and later good food at the library canteen. After the food, we walked around the Aravalli ridge. During our walk, the students seemed to be very happy to visit JNU. When I asked, “how are you feeling?, one of them replied, “Sir, it is the best day of our graduation”.

Hearing this, I felt happy, too. Indeed, the name of teaching is not an exercise of power and authority. Nor is it an exercise of imposing discipline on students. We do not realize how much cruelty is involved in the process of teaching. Most of the time, teachers behave like jail authorities and do not let students express their real feelings. The teachers expect whatever is taught should be reproduced. I am opposed to this method of rot learning.

While walking with them, I have realized that the only way to reduce the torture involved in the teaching is to make it more informal and friendly. I have always believed that the more the interaction is among students, teachers, staff, and people, the better is it for learning. Classroom teaching is only a part of the whole learning process. The real learning often happens outside the classroom.

But the ruling classes in the country and elsewhere do not want to understand this simple fact. In fact, they are making educational policies in a wrong direction. Contrary to the need, they are making education privatized. Further, in the name of online teaching, the whole human interaction is being sacrificed and the system is producing dead robots out of our bright and happy students.

While the online teaching is being justified in the name of imparting education to the most marginalized sitting in the remotest part of the country, the real agenda is to render millions of the youth jobless who aspire to become teachers. I do not know if the ruling elites have ever listened to our voices and they will ever be interested in listening to the marginalized voices.

Let me keep aside these serious issues for a while and accept the simple fact that today was a great day for me. I felt so happy to be with my students. Amid the grim situation, the ray of hope comes from the smile of these students. The university and its administration have turned their doors on millions of unemployed teachers like me, but our heart is not closed to our students. I know my responsibility and despite all difficulty, I try to teach the best reading to my students.

I know it very well that had there been no public education, I would not have come to university. Since the already weak public university is being destroyed to serve the interests of the rich and the powerful, we have no option but to fight them to save the life of our youth. My students want to study at JNU, but will JNU be accessible to them in the future? I do not know.

But we have to fight not only for saving JNU but also for building thousands of JNU in the country. Never forget the teachings of Mahatama Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar, it is the denial of knowledge and education and its monopoly by the people sitting at the top that is responsible for the slavery and marginalization of the masses.

Given that we have to fight against the attacks on the public education. Never forget education is our right.

Dr. Abhay Kumar is currently teaching Contemporary Political Theory at the NCWEB Centre at Moti Lal Nehru College, Delhi University. His articles on the broad themes of social justice and minority rights have appeared in several magazines and web-portals. You may write to him at debatingissues@gmail.com


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