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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Giving on Teachers Day

I have been incredibly fortunate. In all the educational institutes that I have attended as a student, schools, UG and PG universities, I have had the privilege of interacting with some of the most wonderful persons this world has seen. And let me begin this blog article by thanking them for all they have done to/for me.

I have also been incredibly fortunate to be interacting with wonderful students after I decided to become a teacher myself. I love my teaching responsibilities precisely because I get to interact with such students. Alas, most universities wouldn't think for a moment what is the reason behind this joy of teaching. The reason is simple. There are those large number of fantastic teachers spread all across the country in different schools (and yes, coaching classes too), who have made those students what they are. So we at the university level enjoy teaching since some other folks have done the hard work. I take this opportunity to thank all of them for bringing joy to my classroom.

Teaching remains one of the few professions where the "client" continues to have a lifelong connection with the service provider with a lot of affection and respect. While teachers are well paid in India, if you can add smiles to your compensation package, it immediately becomes the best profession in the country.

I was curious to find out how Teachers Day is celebrated across India. So I googled for suggestions at the college level. And I got all the standard ones - give a card to your teacher, make him/her feel nice, say thank you, have a small celebration, some cultural activity, some awards, or some titles for the teachers, etc. There were also suggestions for taking your teacher out for dinner, or to theater or whatever.

But what caught my attention was a few sites asking people to donate on this particular day. One of them from said that if you are feeling grateful to teachers, give others a chance to get the same feeling. The asked the patrons to donate and ensure teachers are met with bright, happy faces every day (since they will be fed meals with this money). One of the simplest suggestion was not to throw away the books after you have moved on to the next class, but donate them for the next batch of students.

The bottom line is that the cost of good education is rising rapidly, while the state funding for education has not kept pace. As a result, poor can either not access quality institutions, or if they can, they still can't learn enough because they are worried about survival issues all the time.

So, if you are confused about how to celebrate Teachers Day, give a gift to an educational institution and let your teachers know that you did this. I too will be doing the same thing. The amount is immaterial. It is the feeling that matters, since that feeling will lead to a commitment, and you will then find other ways to support in due course.

(At IIIT-Delhi, we are keen to expand our programs to provide greater support to more students from economically disadvantaged background. If you wish to know more about our programs, please contact me.)

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