Introduction We can recall our school days and can realise as to how our school teachers inculcated the spirit of reading and educated us. A school teacher plays a prominent role in our life and he is the man who influences our future and career in the early days. Even we enacted the skits in our childhood and many of us might have played the role of a teacher or an inspector of Schools who checks the teaching capability of the teacher, wasn't it?
"A man severe he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The days disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph'd is forgot."
Those are the excerpts from the poem 'The Village School Master' by Oliver Goldsmith. There is an underlying criticism as to how the rural part is being neglected and its villages that were forced to give way to modernization. He glorifies the character of the Village school teacher and his involvement in various activities in helping the village folks in various areas such as measuring their lands, making them conversant with daily happening etc. His presence in the village was a key factor because of the illiteracy and the villagers looked up to him. For them he was next to god. While the school children were scared of him by virtue of his strict enforcement of discipline and punctuality. A smile on his face appeared to be a boon for them. Their artificial laugh at his unfunny jokes was just to please the toughest teacher.
Still they had the regard as the schoolmaster was known to be kind. May be uncompromising, just because of his commitment to education. The village people stood in awe of him due to his knowledge and skill in handling various issues.
An untold story of a school teacher We always remember our teachers on 5th September every year and celebrate it as a Teachers' Day. Dr.S Radhakrishan's birthday is a day for the teachers in the country. There is nothing uncommon in paying tributes to the great scholar. But a Higher grade Teacher who worked for the betterment of the people in a village is still remembered and his statue is worshiped even today.
Bhanumurti Arasada who lived between 1919 - 1995 in a village by name Chintalagraharam near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh would be a better example for an ideal school teacher. His life and devotion for the betterment of the people in the village would surely inspire everyone. A bronze statue installed in the High School reflects the love and affection shown by the villagers towards this great common man. A brief sketch of this unsung hero in the field of education would make the teaching profession a noble one and brings pride to the community.
Bhanumurti was the eldest son of a village assistant and joined the army after completing his Matriculation. After serving the Indian army, he ran away to Singapore and came back to Visakhapatnam. he started his life in the village by name Chintalgraharam where people were depending on agriculture and business. He started teaching the elders during nights and slowly generated interest in them to think of sending their wards to study. Thus he started a Day school which was later transformed into an Aided school.
Apparently he was believed to be the first teacher in the village and possessed the qualities that were described in the poem above by Oliver Goldsmith. He was instrumental in bringing all the folks together and organised cultural programmes at regular intervals. This helped in bridging the gap among them and sorted out all the problems. He encouraged Folk singers and launched a group by name 'Jana Natya Mandali'. He organised Group discussions about the current events and made people aware of the happenings in the state and country as well. He played a sheet anchor role in picking a suitable leader known as Village president or Sarpanch. His unbiased decisions and good judgement of the issues brought him more honour and everyone was looking at him for guidance. Though he was a a Higher grade teacher, he organised career counselling and guided the people in sending their children for higher studies. Chintalagraharam has now become an integral part of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation but still regards Bhanumurti Arasada as their patriarch of the evolution of the village. People still believe that he was the pathfinder for eradicating illiteracy in the village. The concept of mid-day meals scheme was his brain child as he used to serve food to those boys and girls at school at lunch with the help of his wife satyavaty and others women. He adopted the residential school system of teaching by selecting few poor students who lived in the premises of his house. A bronze statue erected in the High school premises shows the mark of respect he enjoyed from them.
What we understand from Oliver Goldsmith and Bhanumurty?
A real story of school teacher from a tiny village and the poetic connotations by Oliver Goldsmith about the Village school master only serve as a quaint reminder of the old ways. The teachers' accomplishments have been consigned to the oblivion of a forgotten past and they are no more role models for the generation today. A teacher can do wonders, if he could apply proper logistics and dedication towards his profession just as we noticed from Bhanumurty's untold story and there were many such good teachers who lent their helping hand in promoting rural development of the country.
The requisite characteristics of a village school teacher in the modern scenario Gone are those days that a school teacher can influence people with his skills and knowledge. The scenario has changed. Previously a school teacher represented the signs of poverty and knowledge by virtue of his meagre salary. Now teaching profession has become one of the fine, comfortable and lucrative jobs as compared to many. Yet the teacher today can not absolve from his moral responsibility in building the character of a student and the nation as well.
A village school teacher or village school teachers are the true interface between the people and the system. He is the first mentor of a child and more responsible in moulding his bright career. With the advent of science and technology, the modern gadgets have brought the world together. The Government has also provided good infrastructure to the schools though the rural part of India is still to grow in this direction.
The underlying problem in various villages even today is that none of the Government employees whether a school teacher or a nursing assistant or a Medical officer show the signs of interest in working these places. The condition in tribal villages is more pathetic. Firstly, the teachers who stand posted to villages should be given proper orientation/training. They should understand the geographical conditions and prevailing circumstances that are detrimental to the growth in terms of its economy and education. It should always be borne in mind that a teacher is an integral part of the development of the village and he is the only person who can enjoy respect by all even after retirement. He should be in a position to galvanise the socio-economic conditions, even though he is not a Village Development Officer and it is not his cup of tea. Yet these factors influence while imparting education as many of the rural kids are being utilised as child labourers either helping out their parents or being exploited by the 'mighty' in the village. He should ensure that the promotional schemes for betterment of education and their effective implementation do reach the needy.
The school teacher is the best career counsellor and he should not fail in his duty as many parents look at him for his guidance. He should not be indulged himself into the petty village politics as we see many politicians misuse their power by dragging the teachers into the fray. In the emerging competition in every field, it is the primary school teacher who is responsible in laying proper foundation and makes the student prepared to face the challenges in life. It is prudent upon him to ensure that the students are regular and punctual and check the reasons for the abstaining individuals. Taking regular feedback from the parents and interacting with them would increase the morale of the parents too.
Wrap upAfter all, teaching is noble profession and a teacher is respected by one and all. While others are respected by virtue of their powers attached to the job and simply forget when the change of role takes place or they get relieved of their post. When teachers like Bhanumurty Arasada could mould the inmates of a small village in the past and being remembered by them even today, what prevents the teacher today with many of the available resources to inspire and motivate the village school children and parents?
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.
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A nice write up as usual by the author. The teacher is one who plays an important role in building up the society.
How important the role of a village school teacher is very well narrated. Really a great teacher can completely change the society. It is unlike all other profession has a big responsibility of building up the villages with complete dedication . But these days no village teacher is staying in the village. He will stay in a near by town or city. Start in the morning with his lunch box and comes back by evening. This is like any other employee does. They don't even have any understanding about the village they are working.
Hope things will change.