Chandigarh, October 7
“My younger brother drops me at our village bus stop every morning before he pushes off to get ready for his school. A bus is supposed to come at 7 am. However, it does not come many a time and I end up requesting commuters to give me a lift. It’s a long wait before someone agrees to drop me at the school where I teach,” rued Iqbal Singh, a visually impaired music teacher at Jamalpur (Ludhiana).
Speaking at the maiden interactive session by the Education Department for music teachers last week, at least 236 partially or completely blind music teachers spoke their heart about the obstacles they faced on a daily basis in their profession. They said they were asked to take classes of other subjects, the schools they worked in had no musical instruments, no permission was given to students of different classes to practice in a common group and there were no music classes for boys at many places.
The department has a special provision for allowing the recruitment of visually impaired teachers. When asked about ways to improve teaching in the subject by the Secretary (School Education) Krishan Kumar, several teachers got up and first shared their problem of commuting to and from schools, particularly in poorly connected rural areas. Kumar assured that the department would look into the matter.
Partially blind Vikramjit Singh said, “One day our head asks me to take classes of English and another day of social sciences. We are asked to ignore music as it is not a compulsory subject.”
A teacher from Jalandhar district, requesting anonymity, said “We don’t have any musical instruments in our schools. What will we teach? Music is a practical subject and the department has earmarked 70 per cent subject for the theory. To make matters worse, there are no books available.”
A teacher from Malwa said, “We don’t even have rooms allocated for teaching music, which is the biggest requirement for our subject. We have to make do with science laboratories when they are vacant.”
A teacher of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Fazilka, Harsh Taneja said, “We appreciate the department’s initiative of talking to the music teachers but any visible change will be possible only when the subject gets its due value in the school curriculum.”
Reacting to the feedback that no chance was given to government schools in events related to the Republic Day, Independence Day and other festivals, Krishan Kumar said “We will be writing to all Deputy Commissioners to ensure participation of government schools in such events, beginning January 26.”