A Teacher’s Manifesto
*Gopal Prasad Bashyal
After teaching more than two decades, I now have a question. The question is whether years of teaching experience matter in teaching. Some may quickly answer ‘No!’ Yes, I agree. But I find many teachers, especially those who have been teaching for several years and aging, are proud of their years engaged in teaching though this is not always acknowledged in our government system.
To share my pain, as the third out of thirty two permanent secondary level teachers in BS 2060, I have not been promoted yet after burying myself in my teaching all these years. Interestingly, those who couldn’t pass the teacher selection exams due to any reasons and became permanent due to a special arrangement in BS 2063 are now promoted because they have more years of teaching as temporary teachers. The government has allocated 35 marks, 2.5 per year for permanent teachers and 1.5 per year for temporary teachers, for promotion. It is not hard to find none of the students got a pass score from the school where many teachers got promoted to the first class. In contrast to this, the policy makers of Nepalese education and scholars are always hesitant to acknowledge the creative works of teachers. The point to emphasize is the mark allocation for promotion to the teachers’ writings like articles, research papers, books etc related to their subjects of teaching. I know many teachers who are established as good writers and authors, but the government system doesn’t encourage them. The big scholars based around Sanothimi never thought to appreciate teachers’ creativity and allocate some marks. No education commission has faith in teachers’ creativity and academic excellence. Universities have this provision of marks for innovative works, so many lecturers write books and get promotion quickly. Unfortunately, secondary school teachers have to count years of experience. However, number of years merely mean little in journey of the professional development.
Though legally neglected, I’m a most delighted teacher. Yes, I am. I declare this. If I track my life history, it’s curvy, distracted, obstructed and rumbling like thunders every time lifting a number of contextual barriers. I learnt to enjoy these hurdles in life. Surprising to many, unlike many, I resigned after working for seven years as a permanent Kharidar, and became a teacher. If I hadn’t left that I would have received pension for the last seven years. I deliberately did it. I’m a simple high school teacher, but people say I’m not obliged to any scornful elites for blessing me with a part time class. In fact I’m grateful to my parents, teachers and all who taught me to dream patiently and ride slowly. I was not fortunate enough to get introduced to all faculties when I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I still feel it like yesterday when I didn’t recognize Dr Anjana who was sitting in Sanothimi Campus as my mentor during my practicum. “I highly appreciate your hard work.” the words of Prof. Sthapit always haunt me and collect my energy again. Prof Abhi Subedi came to the Balmandir auditorium and told Palpalis that I am one of his true followers. The students of Kirtipur reported to me that Prof Awasthi appreciated my NELTA initiatives and Prof Govindaraj Bhattarai is overwhelmed with my book “The Recollections” and writes “my heart filled with appreciation for Gopal to see this work. . . . I wonder how Gopal could make a note of everything and like an anthropologist could put things in paper though briefly.” The words of Prof Jesse of Appalachian State University, NC, USA, “I’m proud of you, Gopal!” are ringing in my ears and inspiring me to go ahead. Interestingly, my wife Ambika believes in palmistry and becomes happy wishing for me to go on a professional visit abroad. I remember the late Gunjeshwari Bashyal, who first encouraged and helped me to build confidence.
With the inspirations and blessings of different people I joined teaching thinking that it’s a novel profession. I started teaching with some hopes. I taught to students from Primary to Mater levels. I emphasized the use of English more in every class. I used English as a medium of instruction to teach 121 students at Grade six. It was a community school, and students were heterogeneous in terms of linguistic, economic and ethnic identities. I tried a few practices, group works, and I never used notes. At the college, my students never got summary. I taught to girl students from a poor academic background, but they didn’t have to look for extra tutoring classes. The reason for ‘success’ in my teaching career is that I love children and I never cheated them in the class. I have always been against guides, guess papers and always discouraged my students be selective in studying the course content. I believe in thorough preparation of all contents, as much as possible. I sometimes taught a fifth period class till four o’clock. When the students follow me I never felt tired; I can continue the whole day. Later when I went to Educational Training Centre, the teachers there said that I was calm but full of fun in the activities. I design activities to engage all participants in the activities so that they enjoy accomplishing tasks. I’m very much interested in learning new techniques. I take part in trainings, workshops, conferences and professional courses. I got wonderful opportunities to study at English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad for six weeks, was awarded a Teaching Excellence and Achievement Fellowship, USA for six weeks, a Hornby scholarship for two weeks and many more short-term MTOTs and TOTs by NCED, BC, NELTA and RELO. I’m a CELTA graduate. For the last thirteen years I have been engaged in training teachers of all levels. In some cases, the same teachers are repeatedly trained. I must find different activities; I always worry if somebody says the activity was done in the last training. Besides, I conduct trainings, workshops for NELTA colleagues, individual school teachers, and members at other forums as well. It’s very hard to find something new for every group of people. I mean to say that if any lesson doesn’t go well, no one shows sympathy. Teaching is always challenging, and teachers should always be well-prepared. If something is repeated or less spicy, the participants ignore all your efforts saying ‘nothing important.’ This search of ‘something important’ is one mistake that many Nepalese teachers make by ignoring simple ideas like nominating students for getting responses, grading speech according to the level of students, allowing pauses after questioning, preparing students for the lesson etc. For the fallacy of doing something big, most of us forget fundamental responsibilities as teachers.
(*Mr Gopal Prasad Bashyal is an Active ELT professional based in Palpa Nepal. He is MA in English and M Ed in English Education from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He has taken different TOTs, MTOTs and trainings from NCED,British Council, NELTA and American Centre and EFLU Hyderabad,India and conducted different trainings.)