It was a Sunday afternoon. A young lady was waiting in Spandana. The moment I went in, she got up and handed over her resume for the post of a teacher. It was a typed one, which is readily available in the market for Rs.20/-. I offered her a seat. I tried to make her comfortable at a new location. I invited her to have lunch with kids. But she declined. She was from a rural BPL family. Her qualification was B.A.,B.Ed. She was aged about 23 years. Her parents were illiterates. I thought of giving her an opportunity.
I asked her, whether I could invite some children from ‘Shraddha’ team [children in the age range 14-16 years] to participate in the interview. She readily gave her consent. She appeared confident. I was happy. I requested the children to be silent and just observe. To boost her confidence, I wrote one subtraction sum, 3000-1897 and one division sum, 30100/9 on the blackboard. She asked for a piece of chalk. She started writing with her left hand, as her right hand lacked fingers. [a birth defect]
To my utter disappointment, she did both the sums wrongly. Further conversation went on like this:
Q: What are the essential qualifications required for a teacher?
A: B.A., B.Ed.
Q: What qualities should a good teacher have?
Q: ‘Bhandara’ means?
A: Bhandara means, Bhandara means……..
Q: Which subjects can you teach? ….to children of which standard?
Q: Can you teach English to 2nd standard children?
A: I have studied in Kannada medium schools. My English is not good.
I asked her to read a paragraph from a Kannada newspaper. She insisted on reading from a text book. I insisted that she read the newspaper. She could not pronounce many alphabets properly. That paragraph contained the phrase, ‘Seemita Avadhi’ (¹Ã«ÄvÀ CªÀ¢ü).
Q: ‘Seemita Avadhi’ means?
A: ‘Seemita means…, seemita means……,seemita means
Q: Can you please teach any one topic of Science to these children?
A: How can I teach? I have to prepare first.
Q: Yes, I agree with you. You can teach the topic with which you are most comfortable. It can be from 1st standard book or 2nd standard book. Or it can be from a newspaper.
A: I will teach about ‘Environment’
She wrote ‘Environment’ on the blackboard. Her handwriting was very good. Then she was trying to explain the meaning of environment. She asked children, “How many types of environments are there?
Our children wore a perplexed look on their faces. I could not answer either. But I tried to answer, ‘Internal environment & external environment? Often internal environment (mind) pollutes the external environment.”
But, she did not agree. She explained, “Types of environment are: air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution etc.” I wanted to check her general knowledge.
Q: Who is Pranab Mukherjee?
A: Oh, he is the president of Karnataka.
Q: On what date, do we observe ‘Teachers’ day’?
A: 5th May.
Q: Are you sure?
The entire interview took around 15 minutes. I called children outside and sought their opinion. No one was ready to accept her as a teacher. My decision was also the same. But I wanted to give her a chance. I gave the option. She could join Kaliyuva Mane as a student. No salary would be paid to her, till her knowledge level reaches to that of 4th standard. She also would learn the right attitude, knowledge and skill of transferring the knowledge. I consider these as necessary qualifications than formal degrees. I thought, she would never agree!
But I was surprised to see her at Kaliyuva Mane after 10 days. She had come to join as a resident student! I admire her honesty and courage.