Teachers are the guiding forces that propel societies toward the next level of development by imparting education. An ideal teacher possesses a diverse range of abilities and skills, ensuring the delivery of exceptional educational services. These qualities are not achieved merely through the accumulation of degrees and certificates, especially when those credentials lack practical application. In today’s developed countries, certificates have transformed into mere pieces of paper if the holder lacks the practical skills necessary for their profession. Sometimes pursuing numerous training programs, often led by unskilled trainers, is also not the key to becoming an exemplary teacher. Instead, the essence of an ideal teacher lies in acquiring a diverse set of skills and qualities through experience which enables him to provide effective and impactful education to students.
In Jammu and Kashmir, an innovative educational initiative known as the Rehbar-e-Taleem Scheme was started in the year 2000. Its primary aim was to address the educational sector’s persistent challenge – a shortage of qualified teachers. Under this scheme, teachers were meticulously appointed based on merit, with a preference for the most educated individuals in their respective regions. Their mission was to educate children, particularly in rural areas, and elevate the quality of elementary education across the state. These educators began their journey with a humble monthly salary of just 1500 rupees, but over time, it was increased to 3000 rupees, with a commitment to regularization upon completing five years of satisfactory service. The teachers under this scheme displayed unwavering dedication, mixing their sweat and blood to deliver the best possible education. They left no stone unturned to increase the literacy rate within the region. Their hard work and dedication were rewarded as they were eventually regularized after five years of dedication.
Rehbar-e-Taleem Teachers (ReTs/RReTs) have gained extensive experience in the field of education in Jammu and Kashmir. Their roles span from teaching and mentoring to communicating with parents and engaging with communities. They perform duties ranging from being peons to headteachers of their schools and even act as chefs by serving mid-day meals to children. They go the extra mile by tending to the children’s hygiene, from cutting their nails to washing their hands. What sets Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers apart is their ability to expose students to various real-life environments beyond the confines of traditional classrooms, aligning with the demands of modern education.
Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers are known for their ability to expose students to a variety of real-world environments outside the confines of classroom walls. This approach aligns with the demands of the modern education system, which emphasizes practical applications of what is taught in the classroom. These educators bring the outside world to their students, ensuring they experience and understand the actual implications of their learning. The dedication of Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers is evident in their daily commitment, working not just the standard six-hour duty but often remaining on call for non-teaching assignments. They are ready to respond to emergency calls from higher authorities, including challenging tasks like election duties, census duties, and more.
The services rendered by Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers have not gone unnoticed; they have been widely praised by local communities and native residents. The government has consistently recognized their significant contributions by bestowing various awards. Countless Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers have received accolades and honors at different levels, including zonal, district, union territory, and national awards. In 2020, Harnam Singh Jamwal, a Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) teacher from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, was conferred with the Best Teacher/Innovative National Award by the Union HRD Ministry of India. In 2023, Reyaz Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Chittergul village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district, stood among the 75 teachers from across the country who were honored with national-level Best Teacher Awards. He received this recognition from President Droupadi Murmu in New Delhi on September 5 for his persistent and strenuous efforts in the education sector.
Beyond the awards and accolades, there are countless unsung heroes among Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers. These educators go above and beyond to provide not only education but also to address the additional needs of their students. They are often found in the background, working tirelessly to ensure that every child receives not just an education but also the care and support they require.
In conclusion, Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers in Jammu and Kashmir have not only filled the educational gaps but have emerged as beacons of dedication and innovation. Their commitment to the holistic development of their students goes beyond the classroom, making them true unsung heroes of education. They have showcased their mettle on every front, proving the absurdity of labelling them as unskilled or underqualified teachers. These educators are the embodiment of the transformative power of experience, dedication, and commitment to the cause of education. They are the unsung heroes who have enriched the lives of countless students and communities.
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