Will the new working hours for primary school teachers, fixed under Right to Education (RTE) Act, make teachers quit their jobs or will they adjust to the longer hours?
Under the RTE Act, it is mandatory for primary school teachers to report for eight hour duty at schools, two hours more than the normal school hours. Teachers are supposed to spend the extra time preparing for the next day and checking note-books.
Vice-president of Gujarat Primary Teachers Association, Shanti Shah said, "The state has around two lakh primary school teachers, of which 50% are women. There are several households where husband and wife both work as teachers. If such people dedicate eight hours to their work, their family life gets disturbed. Also, what about those teachers who travel to far off village schools. Will women be able to face such a life?"
Disappointed with the government, he said it has not taken women teachers into account. "We have submitted a letter to Gujarat government to make changes in the rules. We even staged a dharna in Delhi against this rule, but in vain," added Shah.
He said that quitting the job will not be an option taken by any teacher as the association will support the teachers completely.
However, many principals seem to be happy with the decision. Principal of Sheth CN Vidyalaya, Hitendra Trivedi said, "The teachers have no option but to follow this mandatory rule. But I believe it is a good decision. Instead of checking exam papers and note-books and preparing for next day at home, teachers can do the work at school with complete concentration during the extra two hours. I don't think this will lead to teachers leaving their jobs."
Another principal of a prominent school of the city, requesting anonymity, said, "The decision has its advantages and disadvantages. It will improve the productivity and quality of work of the teachers, but it will also lead to long working hours for them."
Interestingly, principal of Aroma School of the city, Bhaskar Patel said, "A few teachers may opt out of the profession. But the figures will be marginal. Hardly 1-2% of total teachers will leave the profession due to increased timings."