Lady Teachers In Primary And Upper Primary Schools: Issues and Concerns

Dr. Meera Swain
B. K. Srinivas

Abstract Maintaining cash-book
Introduction Problems of handling mid-day meals
Methodology Solving the problems of the students
Objectives Problems of commuting to work places
Class-room teaching Individual problems as lady teachers
Maintaining office/school records Conclusion and Suggestions


Teachers are the prime units of all socio-economic and political functions. Staring from the parents to the institutional teachers, they are the contributors of knowledge and techniques of continuance. They are also the initiators and providers of life and sustenance. Therefore, the well-being of teachers will ensure the well-being of the entire population by empowering both of them to continue and develop.

The tribal population is being deprived for years because of their isolation. Thus mainstreaming them is the prime requirement for the ensuring equality and equity of these people. The awareness and kind of motivation they require need to be supplied by the understandings of the teachers who are the available elites and advisors in the isolated areas. Hence the quality of the teachers and their obligation towards the education system in the present schools are to be systematized.

The present study is carried in the educational district of Koraput, Odisha, India. Sample schools and case studies of teachers and lady teachers in particular, are taken to analyze their issues and concerns. Interview of lady teachers and observation of activities in the school premises are also done. The present study hopes to help the policy inclusions to improve their conditions and empower them for their responsibilities.

1 Introduction

Learning is a continuous process, which enable the human being to cope up with all the situations in life. The system of acquiring knowledge and learning is known as education. Education is the key that opens the door of life. It plays a pivotal role in social change and it promises perfections in human life. Education is widely accepted as the essential tool for the attainment of the developmental goals and leads to political consciousness, awareness of rights and duties among the people of a nation One cannot imagine education without schools as it plays a major role in moulding the basic ideas, habits and attitudes of the children, with an objective of producing well-balanced individuals. Schools provide not only education to the children but also to keep them away from the social evils. Despite the efforts of school education the drop out phenomena are so visible in our schools, that one gets worried about the inclusivity of the current education system. .

The schedule tribe population represents one of the most economically impoverished and marginalized groups in India. Although Scheduled Tribes are a minority, they constitute about 8.2 % of the total population in India (Census of India, 2001), or 85 million people in absolute number. The Scheduled Tribes are not discriminated against in the same way by the mainstream Hindu population as the Scheduled Caste population in India. While the latter group is at the lowest rung of social and is often considered impure or unclean, the Scheduled Tribes have, for the most part, been socially distanced and living outside the mainstream Hindu society. The areas inhabited by the tribal population constitute a significant part of the under developed areas of the country.. Keeping in view the backwardness and social isolation of Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Constitution of India provides them special privileges and safeguards. There are 573 STs groups living in different parts of the country. Most of the tribal communities have their own languages and culture different from the language spoken in the state where they are located. There are more than 270 such languages. (Haseena and Ajims, 2014)

The state of Odisha occupies a unique position in the tribal map of India. The 62 groups declared as scheduled tribes in the Presidential Order of 1956 constitute 23.22% of the population of the State. The Scheduled area, constituting 46.8 per cent of the total area of the State houses 60.65 per cent of the total tribal population. The rest are distributed among almost all the districts. Odisha with 56.58 per cent of its population below poverty line presents a bleak picture as far as severe destitution of tribals are concerned. This should be treated as a national problem. Odisha needs to seek solution, which would show the way to other states having similar problems.

Teachers of the primary and the upper primary schools constitute an important component of the process of imparting education. The old approach to education is so overwhelming that even tribal educators of India have pointed out the 'need for a well thought-out uniform policy for the whole of India with regard to education in tribal areas'. Their pleading that 'this policy need not be interpreted or applied too rigidly' is a grudging recognition of local and regional variation of problems and sounds almost pathetic. (

One could take one of the two conventional approaches while discussing education. Following the sectoral approach one could talk of the primary, the secondary and the higher education and provide statistics to show growth or retardation of education in each of the sectors. One could present statistics regarding stagnation and wastage in each sector of education and relate it to societal factors. One could also talk about adult education, formal and non-formal education and assess the achievements and failures over a period of time. Alternately, one could talk about structural problems of management and inspection. For example, in some states tribal schools are run by three agencies, the education department, the tribal welfare department and voluntary agencies. As education departments have no special staff, the tribal welfare departments have no expertise in the field of education; one could cite examples in different states where tribal schools have not been inspected for ten years if not more. However, unless one is clear about the goals of education and is familiar with both the macro and micro context of the tribal societies it is not possible to talk meaningfully about tribal education.

Education is a tool of transmission of culture, accumulated knowledge and experience of a society. It is also the tool for economic betterment and societal change. Today all educationists are talking of uniformity in design, content and structure of education. There is no wonder that there is such confusion about the purpose and goal of general education, not to speak of tribal education. But the existing uniform structure and content of education caters to neither, and is by and large irrelevant to most sectors of the society.

The elitist base of present education strengthens the metropolitan and rural vested interest, which has little commitment to the developmental needs and economic priorities of the rural sector in general and rural poor in particular. On the contrary the vested interest groups are against fundamental economic change which has the slightest possibility of threatening their interests. The rich are almost always identified as elites and the elites hold the passport to rank, status and wealth in most societies. Their behavior is not only the model, their language is invariably the standard to be emulated by others. If one looks at the Indian scene one can see that the economically rich areas within each state are the focal areas as far as standard languages are concerned.

In the classification of poverty, the tribals come in the lowest rung and are below the subsistence level. But it must be remembered that richness and poverty are not facts of tribal life. They are implanted by the non-tribals and by the educated. Therefore, the tribal looks at both with suspicion. While the tribals are made conscious about their poverty, neither a will to change not dissatisfaction at the rate of change is created in them. They are neither a party to the planning for change nor have they any role in its implementation. Therefore, the education system, which engenders such planning, pulverizes their social status and self-respect and converts them into masses, is regarded by the tribals as irrelevant.

One can also see this process of dehumanization as a spectrum. As a man from a developing country, no matter how qualified he is, is willing to subject himself to relatively lower status and low income in comparison with comparable categories of citizens in developed countries, a person from a village is willing to give up the pride in traditional social status in favor of a salary earning menial job in the city. A tribal who is taught about his inferior status in the caste ridden non-tribal hierarchical society , is forced into seeking menial jobs like peons or attenders outside their own area after coming out of Ashram Schools/Secondary Schools. As Desai (1975) puts it, education "creates occupational differentiation affecting role differentiations and consequently social interaction". The alienation of the educated tribal is thus complete, while the uneducated fatalistically resign themselves to their poor lot.

In view of the various dimensions, tribal education can never be uniform. It must seek solutions to group specific problems in different states. There is a misapprehension in some quarters that in finding separate solutions for integration of different groups, the seeds of disunity may grow. It must, however, be understood that the distinction is between apathetic attitude leading to inaction on the part of the planners which gets response of dissatisfaction verging on hatred towards the system and its managers. A conscious strategy based on empathy leading to a national unity based on self-fulfillment of small groups to curb isolation, inclusion tribal communities and their empowerment so that a conscious strategy of unity in diversity cannot lead to disunity.

Anthropologists and welfare workers have added to the confusion in no small measure. Some anthropologists and social workers are responsible for the notion that the tribals represent primitiveness. Some want this culture to be preserved, and are dead against modernity affecting it in any way. Others want them to be modernized and civilized. As one group in the name of preservation of culture has no compunction in making them perform in state capitals on festive occasions, the other groups in the name of development has no compunction in depriving the tribal of his land, his vocation and destroy his social institution. The debate between the change oriented and the non-changeranthropologists has perplexed the education planners. Is the kind of education imparted today instrumental in destroying the social fabric of the tribals? Can it be used to protect them against the threatening urbanization? These value soaked questions and the debates on them neither help the tribal nor the planner.

The welfare worker that is mostly guided by a guilt complex or a false sense of sympathy towards the tribal considers every activity as liberal charity. Thus all their activities are aimed at solving the immediate need of the tribals rather than creating muscle in them to bear their own burden. The attitude of the Union and the state governments, which have responsibilities for promotion of tribal education under Article 46 of the Indian Constitution, is by and large guided by welfare consideration.

A section of people in the government treat the tribal problem as one of law and order. Whether it is shifting cultivation, utilization of forest produce or tribal justice, which are intimately connected with their life style are treated as transgression of laws promulgated by and for the non-tribals. The tribal is then punished for his cultural values, his life style and his ethos about which judgment has already been passed by a ruling society, which he naturally considers inimical to his interest. There is no wonder that the tribal people are not keen to take advantage of facilities of education which then appears to be calculated to destroy their social fabric.

The educationist who confuses educational goals with the above is naturally led astray. When an educationist talks of oppositions between 'science based' and 'culture based' curriculum for the tribal, he is a victim of confusion. First of all, science and culture are not exclusive concepts. Secondly, it is wrong to think that as regards the prevalence or otherwise of scientific attitudes, one of the major problems confronting tribal educators is the mixed school (i.e., imparting education together for both trials and non-tribals). Those who take tribals for granted use this as excuse for inaction and those who which to do something are baffled. The problem arises primarily because education systems today put all students in a uniform mould, expecting them to reach a specific target within a single time scale. Educationists have no solutions for the socially oppressed, for those who are first generation school goers. Unless structural changes are brought about in the present schools and flexibility of approach is adopted, this problem cannot be solved. The only solution lies in breaking the curriculum into courses and credit and permitting the children to complete the required number of courses at their own pace. Unless education gives a chance to the socially deprived and economically backward to overcome their past deficiencies, it will remain a club of the privileged. It is then bound to crumble under the weight of its own irrelevance. Thirdly arts, crafts and folklore are as important components of education as tales of scientific inventions. There is no reason why both cannot be given for both tribals and non-tribals. (Bagai and Nundy, 2009)

Educationists have often spoken of the problem-solving education. The problems posed by the elitist teacher and the textbooks are not the problems of life. If at all such problems have any relevance, then they are relevant to the lives of the privileged. As the formal education system expects the child to conform to the logic of the present, which has kept him submerged in ignorance and poverty, he has little motivation for giving attention to it, not to speak of pursuing it with any seriousness. Education for tribals and other such socio-economically under privileged can only be meaningful if it is problem posing rather than problem solving.

In the context of tribal education, a ridiculous notion is work experience. To waste formal education time for a child coming from a working class family and engaged in productive work at home, work experience or some fancy programmes under vocationalisation scheme is nothing but preposterous. Unless the tribal culture is related to productivity in a manner relevant to the tribal social life and economy, credit is given to the child's work at home and his latent skills are recognised and developed in the school as part of the educational programme, education would remain an empty slogan for the tribal.

The tribal child is in some ways different from the non-tribal. So is the adult learner. This difference stems form the differing socio-economic and cultural pattern of the tribals. Unfortunately, most educated people confuse this difference with deficiency in the tribal mind. This confusion stemming largely from ethno-centricism finds its expression in statements like 'Saora has 700 words', 'It is not possible to discuss high culture in tribal languages', etc. This mentality also finds its expression in the insinuation that the tribal is less social and less national if not anti-social and anti-national. Therefore, experts on tribal education, time and again, have recommended that "both primary education and social education should be given wide coverage especially in educationally backward tribal areas and communities", and in stating the aims of tribal education have emphasized that, "the educational institutions and processes should strengthen forces of national integration." In a country as diverse in ethnicity, language, religion and regional culture, national integration is a necessary goal. But to single out the tribals for education in national integration betrays a mind, which is basically parochial and ethnocentric. As has been pointed out earlier, problems in tribal education are an extreme case of education of socially oppressed, tribal or non-tribal. Therefore, neglecting the tribals not only does not give any new insight to the solution of their problems, but promotes and sustains separatism. (

In the background of such scenario in education for tribals, the role of teachers assumes a great significance.The teachers engaged to impart education to tribal children are also required to mediate between the parents and children, between primary education and the secondary and higher education, and education and nutrition. Thus being part of the important dichotomy these teachers should be treated as the entrusted human resource responsible for capacity building among primary and upper primary students. Present study is around the lady teachers (both trained and un-trained) engaged in the government primary and upper primary schools of Koraput district, which has highest concentration of the tribal population. Further in this district the lady teachers, which include ‘Sikhya Sahayaka’ (Assistance Teacher) and ‘Gana Sikhyaka’ outnumber the male teachers.

2 Methodology

For the present study the sample blocks are taken from education district of Koraput which constitutes nine (09) blocks. Teachers (30) interviewed are representing the schools of Similiguda, Dasmantapur, Laxmipur, Nandapur,and Lamptaput blocks. Observations made within the schools on different activities of the teachers, the management of classes and the strength of the teachers with the permission of the respective teachers in charge and headmasters/headmistress. Case studies are also taken for both common and specific issues of the lady teachers.

3 Objectives

For the present paper, keeping in view the issues of the lady teachers in the schools of the scheduled area, following are the objectives::

  • To study the problems of delivering classroom teachings,

  • The problems of maintaining office/ school records,

  • Problems of managing finance,

  • Problems of handling the mid-day meals in the schools,

  • Problems of handling of students during school hours including the disable students,

  • Problems of daily commuting to the work place,

  • Problems of coordinating with the male teachers if they are colleagues,

  • Lady teacher’s individual problems including the management of family.

4 Class-room teaching

The school buildings are not provided with sufficient classrooms and hence they have to manage more number of classes in provided rooms. They have to control the disturbances, as other class students are not interested in the ongoing class. Some teachers are found to be hesitating in taking upper primary classes as they are not able to deliver the course contents of mathematics and science in higher classes. The services of teachers are also utilized in the government programmes and activities having national importance like census survey, election duty, implementation of state welfare schemes apart from regular departmental meetings and conferences which create disturbance and hampers the continuity of class room teachings.

5 Maintaining office/school records

These lady teachers are supposed to keep the records all alone as no ministerial assistant is engaged for this. Teachers do not follow uniform procedure to maintain the records but individually device some convenient and suitable mechanism to keep the same due to lack of training in maintenance of office and school records. More than 70% schools are not having headmasters/headmistresses but in-charge teachers to manage everything. Lack of ministerial assistance and training related to specific work also creates a lot of complications and additional work for teachers.

6 Maintaining cash-book

No specific training is being provided but they have to keep daily transaction records. Separate cashbooks are to be maintained and updated for school, Mid Day Meal (MDM), and construction of buildings in the school premises. For spending on the different purposes, they have to take the permission of the school management committee (Parents + Panchayat Raj Institution (PRI) member + Head Mistress (HM) + educationist / students representative of 6 th/7th class).

7 Problems of handling mid-day meals

The school management committee is the important unit to manage the Mid Day Meal (MDM) and the ultimate responsibility is that of Head Mistress (HM) or the in-charge to manage the Mid Day Meal (MDM) daily. Head Mistress In-charge has to arrange the requirements for the cooking and serving of the meals (starting from marketing to keeping all the things for the next-day’s activity).. Transporting the required items to the interior places where communication facilities are lacking is another job that she has to undertake. Though rice is supplied by government but for other items only Rs 3.61 are given per child which is required to be adjusted in meals for the days with eggs and without eggs.

Keeping all the bills (both handbills and printed bills) for submitting utilization is difficult. It is found in the sample schools that have neither kitchen room nor the dining room and both of them are arranged in open places. In some schools meals are cooked in someone’s house and served in the school verandah (elevated floor of school or school premises). Day’s most of the school timing is devoted to the mid-day meals.

8 Solving the problems of the students

Managing the disabled students is difficult as no special training or trained teacher is provided. Some students share their personal problem but it is to be dealt carefully as most of the teachers are the part of the community where the school is. Tribal students need special attention in understanding as odia (state language) medium is a second language for them. Parent’s absence in parent-teacher meeting is one of the distracting factors in solving student specific problems particularly for poor attendance cases

9 Problems of commuting to work places

Teachers are not having residential quarters for which they have to travel daily to their respective workplaces. Interior village schools like Hatibani School in Nandapur, Pindapadar and Balighat of Dasmantapur block, Chabukmari,Chintaguda and Talasumandi of Narayanapatna block, Kaberbudi, Birkana, Tentuliguda of Lamptaput block, Kanta of Laxmipur block are examples of interior villages that lack communication, where the teachers have to walk-down even 12 km in the forest. Vehicles for commuting to their respective schools available only on days of weekly markets. SimilarlyKhalpadi of Sunabada Notified Area Council (NAC), Sanabadigaon and Sisaguda, Paligumadi, Kechella and Narziput of Koraput block are the places where lady teachers have to cross the water bodies including reservoir water by boat to reach the schools.

10 Individual problems as lady teachers

More than 85% lady teachers have their families and they have to take the strain of dual responsibilities. In some cases it has been found that the lady teachers are leaving their small child/children in the care of neighbor or relatives. In one case it is found that the teacher had to carry her baby everyday during the session 2012-13 to her school in Pattangi block and she has to walk down 7 km from the bus stoppage (both public and private transportation) to the school.

On the days of examinations they have to receive questions for which they have to wait for hours after the school timing, thus neglecting their family. They risk their safety and security while traveling through forests or and crossing water bodies to reach the school. This is apart from their own health hazards. 94% of the lady teachers are dependent on the private or government transport and only 6% have their own vehicles to commute.

The present uniform/ color provided is not suitable for the rainy season, which continues for five months in a year in this district. Most of the teachers keep a second piece of the uniform at school or change to the uniform at schools. Thus most of the lady teachers are not in favour of the current prescribed uniform/color.

Communicating with the head office is normally the responsibility of male teachers, provided they are there.. But in the absence of the male teachers, the lady teacher/s have to do the job..

They are engaged in other non-teaching works like providing voter Identity card, doing election duties, socio-economic survey, building construction in the school premises, keeping the records of the parents-children of the village/area, giving order for and distributing school uniforms to Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) students. They are also asked to undergo various training which hampers the classroom teaching and they are not satisfied with components of the training which are proved to be irrelevant (according to the teachers interviewed).

Teachers are also complaining of anti social activities within the school premises after the school is over and it has a bad impact on the villagers. The accommodation of more than two classes in one room is one of the common features of the most of the schools. Due to paucity of teachers and classrooms, the classroom teaching suffers.

The salary difference amongst teachers comprising trained and untrained teachers, Sikhya Sahayaks and Gana Sikhyakas, despite their work being same, is found to be one of the causes of the lack of mutual cooperation in the school environment. Classification of works and its distribution is yet to be incorporated.

11 Conclusions and suggestions

Thus teachers and the lady teachers in particular are not provided with proper environment to deliver class-room education. The shortage of manpower and lack of subject specific training hampers the capacity building of teachers. The safety and security of the lady teaches are not incorporated in the entire process. The residence and the workplace should be within a close distance so that the lady teachers can discharge their dual responsibilities effectively.. Subject specific training should be provided to improve their capacity for classroom teaching in the upper primary schools. Proper distribution of teachers across different responsibilities should be there to avoid the un-evenness (as it is observed). Accommodation facilities should be provided to avoid the insecurities involved in commuting from far-away places through forest and water bodies. Disparities in scales of pay should be minimized as all of them are engaged in same work. Extra man power is required to be engaged to look after building construction, for official transactions, and marketing and to restore the capacity of the teachers as the human resources for empowerment of tribal population in particular.


  • Bagai, Shweta & Nundy, Neera.. (2009). Tribal Education a Fine Balance New Delhi: Rakesh Press.

  • HaseenaV.A & Ajims P. Mohammed.(2014). Scope of education and dropout among tribal students in Kerala -A study of Scheduled tribes in Attappady, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications (ISSN 2250-3153), Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2014, available from

  • Desai,I. P. (1975). quoted in Tribal education and tribal languages: A new strategy retrieved from on 25 March 2015