School teachers in Madhya Pradesh will wear jackets as a uniform, according to the state government, which aims to bring in better professionalism with the move that has evoked mixed reaction.
The education department prefers the vest coat to be khadi, sources said on Tuesday, adding that teachers will also sport a nameplate bearing ‘Rashtra Nirmata’ (nation builder). The National Institute of Fashion Technology is to design the new dress, which its conceivers said will be go well with any attire.
School education minister Vijay Shah, while making the announcement on the uniform, said the idea was to give the teachers a “feel that they are on an important duty”.
“We hope to infuse stronger professionalism among teachers. We want to create a nobler academic ambience at school,” he added.
The jackets will be provided by the school education department.
Most teachers sounded happy. “The dress code gives us more self-respect and good sense of responsibility,” said Rajendra Jasooja, who teaches at Subhash Excellence School here. “Every profession has a dress code—doctors wear a white coat; advocates a black gown. The jacket will motivate us to discharge duties.”
Some teachers were lukewarm to the step, saying the government’s core focus should be on actual improvement of the education system.
‘I wish authorities paid more attention to facilities in schools’
“The jacket is an unnecessary addition, a cosmetic change,” said a teacher, who didn’t wish to be named. “I wish authorities paid more attention to facilities in schools.” Educationist professor Zamiruddin went a step further, and dubbed the dress code decision “senseless”.
‘Every sixth school has only one teacher’
“In Madhya Pradesh, we have acute shortage of teachers. Every sixth school has only one teacher,” he pointed out. “If a teacher has to be designated a ‘rashtra nirmata’, then the government must select the best of the candidates for the job of teaching, give them decent salary and also respect for their job they are doing. That can contribute to national development.”
As per the school education department, Madhya Pradesh has 42,684 posts of teachers vacant in primary and upper primary schools. Ashutosh Pandey, a teachers’ association general secretary, says state needs “at least 14,000” teachers to meet the requirement. Besides dropout of students, absenteeism of teachers is also a major problem in schools. An inspection at certain schools in July this year found more than half the teachers not on duty. Also, teachers blame the government for engaging them in non-teaching work.