Drawing from Karl Marx’s critique of labour exploitation and societal hierarchy, urgent attention is required to address the multifaceted challenges faced by these educators
The challenging circumstances faced by private school teachers in Kashmir, including overwork, lack of appreciation, low wages, humiliation, social discrimination, and family issues, reveal a dire need for systemic reforms. Drawing from visionary Karl Marx’s theories, this essay explores the pressing issues and advocates for social justice in education in Kashmir.
1. The Heavy Burden of Overwork: Private school teachers in Kashmir are caught in a never-ending cycle of overwork. With nearly eight classes a day and no breaks, these passionate educators are pushed beyond their limits. This intense schedule leaves educators with little time for preparation, reflection, or self-care, negatively impacting the quality of education. Importantly, the constant workload not only affects the quality of education but also takes a toll on teachers’ physical and mental well-being, leaving them overworked and unappreciated. For instance, Rahim (name changed), a dedicated mathematics teacher in a private school, is required to teach eight classes a day without any breaks. His schedule is so intense that he struggles to find time for lesson planning, grading, or even a moment of self-care. This constant workload has led to burnout, impacting not only the quality of education he provides but also his physical and mental well-being.
2. Lack of Appreciation: Despite their dedication, a vast majority of private school teachers in Kashmir feel unappreciated for their efforts. Their work was undervalued by both school administrations and society at large. This lack of recognition exacerbates feelings of frustration and disillusionment among teachers, contributing to a growing sense of disengagement from their profession. For example, Shabnam (name changed), an experienced English teacher, consistently puts in extra hours to organize extracurricular activities and improve teaching methodologies. However, her efforts go unnoticed by the school administration and parents. The lack of recognition contributes to her growing disillusionment, and she questions the value of her dedication to her profession.
3. Insignificant Wages and Economic Struggles: In a region with around 5600 private schools, the harsh reality of low wages is hard to ignore. Teachers, equipped with high qualifications, receive meager salaries ranging from Rs 3000 to Rs 7000 per month. This stark contrast is more glaring when compared to casual labourers earning Rs 9000 per month, and daily wagers earned almost 800 per day. This undervaluation of the teaching profession isn’t just an economic problem but a societal one, undermining the crucial role education plays in regional development. Aisha (name changed), a science teacher with a master’s degree and M.Phil. receives a monthly salary of Rs 4700. This meagre income barely covers her basic needs, and she finds herself struggling to make ends meet. In comparison, casual labourers in the region earn almost double the amount, highlighting the stark economic disparity faced by private school teachers.
4. Humiliation from Administration: Beyond economic struggles, private school teachers face humiliation from school administrations or even students and their families. This lack of regard for their profession can contribute to a demoralizing work environment. This not only crushes teacher’s morale but sets a harmful precedent for the entire educational system. The lack of respect for educators reflects a broader societal disregard for the teaching profession. Hilal (name changed), a history teacher, faces humiliation from the school administration due to a lack of resources for his classroom. When he requests necessary materials, he is met with dismissive remarks and a disregard for the importance of his role. This disrespect not only demoralizes him but sets a negative tone for the entire teaching staff.
5. Social Discrimination and Marginalization: Private school teachers find themselves treated as second-class citizens, enduring societal discrimination that extends beyond the classroom. The very individuals shaping future generations face a demeaning hierarchy, perpetuating inequality that hampers both teachers and the students they strive to educate. For example, Nida (name changed), a geography teacher, experiences social discrimination beyond the school gates. In social gatherings, she is often looked down upon due to her profession, facing comments that undermine the importance of her role. This societal disdain perpetuates a demeaning hierarchy, affecting both her personal and professional life.
6. Family Issues Due to Low Wages: The economic struggles of private school teachers in Kashmir extend beyond classrooms, causing profound family conflicts. Low wages create financial stress, making basic needs challenging to meet. This leads to tension, disagreements on budgeting, and heightened anxiety. Inadequate earnings also shatter educators’ dreams of providing quality education for their children, causing feelings of inadequacy. Financial strain strains interpersonal relationships, leading to conflicts over trivial matters. Overwork leaves little time for family, fostering perceptions of emotional distance. The generational impact manifests as challenges for children in adulthood, perpetuating economic disadvantage. For example, Amir (name changed), a primary school teacher, struggles to support his family with a monthly income of Rs 5500. The financial stress leads to conflicts at home, particularly when it comes to budgeting and meeting basic needs. Amir’s dream of providing quality education for his children is shattered, causing feelings of inadequacy and frustration within the family.
Therefore, the plight of private school teachers in Kashmir underscores the stark realities of labour exploitation and social inequality, echoing the theories of influential philosophers such as revolutionary Karl Marx. The overwork and meagre wages endured by these educators exemplify the capitalist dynamics Marx critiqued, where labourers are alienated from the fruits of their labour. The lack of appreciation and societal disdain for teachers reflects a broader class struggle, emphasizing the hierarchical structure that perpetuates inequality. Marx’s insights into economic disparities and the devaluation of labour provide a theoretical lens to comprehend the systemic issues faced by private school teachers. Urgent reforms are essential to rectify these injustices and align the education system with principles of social justice.
In conclusion, the plight of private school teachers in Kashmir unveils a pressing need for systemic reforms and social recognition. Drawing from Karl Marx’s critique of labour exploitation and societal hierarchy, urgent attention is required to address the multifaceted challenges faced by these educators. Rectifying the injustices embedded in overwork, meagre wages, and societal disdain is essential to upholding principles of social justice and dignifying the teaching profession in the picturesque region of Kashmir.
The writer is a Research Candidate at the Center for Studies & Research in Gandhian Thought & Peace Central University of Gujarat. He can be reached at [email protected]