Since last 76 days almost all the staff members and teachers of the school showed their spirit and commitment to tame the ontological crises and in cultivating possibilities during the Covid-19 pandemics.
The sanitation staff, security guards, Estate manager (Mr. Jitendra Jha) and the head of the school himself, attended the school without any leave, any break (even on Sunday) daily from 9:30 am to 10:00 p.m. and facilitated the distribution of lunch and dinner to about 7000 people from 29 March, 2020. They also facilitated distribution of dry ration to approximately, 500 people daily until 11 June 2020 which will continue further after.
Great Learning Experience
For the past 76 days, we met thousands of people every day, observed them and talked/ interacted with them while working at the both counters. It was great learning experience and opportunity that cultivated conscientization towards helplessness, distributional injustice and ontological uncertainly of majority of people and group. In same vein, the school’s security guards and estate manager shared their feeling of void in terms of lessen intensity of responsibility and not meeting the thousand regular visitors who are coming to school for cooked food and dry ration and sudden disruption of habit to work from morning to late night among the people who appeared to be very humble and active in learning how to cover their face and maintain social distancing. In the lexicon of education psychology it is called ‘conditioning’. The work was tiring. Now that it has ended or to be ended, but I feel sad about it.
I am really missing the fellows who constantly contributed in enhancing my sociological imaginations along the axes of production and reproduction of polarization, social inequality and injustice of individuals and groups. This is the human mind which not only yearns for livelihood. But also misses the work in which one was engaged even though the work was tiring, but, socially enriching. Though facilitating the cooked food centre and Dry Ration Distribution centre were seemingly repetitive and mechanical in its nature. But, working with human is always a creative and liberating endeavors in order to gratify the intrinsic socio-psychological desire to have companion with other fellow human being beyond instrumental needs.
‘connecting constructively with individuals and Community’
This helped me to nurture my constructive psychological ingredients and Mental health. Academically, it enable to reflect on my previous reading in sociology of mental and anthropological philosophy.
In fact, work is not only a means of earning a living. It is also a means of connecting constructively with individuals and the community along integrative and expressive axes of sociability. By this, one also realizes the significance of their existence by connecting with other people and groups. In this way, the 76 days resulted in to enriching experience in terms of anthropological journey grounded theory perspective. The observations, interactions and experiences derived from it, are a rich data set, by which the fundamental questions of human existence can be answered with more authenticity. In fact, it also contributed in designing the framework and action plan of constructive engagement of school and team of teachers in the present humanitarian crisis during covid-19 in pedagogic as well trans-pedagogic engagements domains of life.
It is not possible to present all the learning here. However, I will present quick, spontaneous and floating reflections what appeared in the field. Before that, it is important to share that, as per the expectations that gathered from the people in the field, three groups, i.e., government, teachers and humanity face the difficult test in the humanitarian crises like, endemic/pandemic or disasters.
In fact, at ground level, teachers and schools play constructive role of workers and leaders of government, pedagogy and humanity. In all these roles, the teachers and schools are to be tested in terms of their support in almost all domain of ontological security like, hunger and fundamental needs, Mental health and how to support children and youth for active learning from contemporary lives and their crises so that they can understand the worlds and thereby ensuring empowered being and emancipated becoming of children , youth and even adults. Besides, teachers also need to practicise their active learning and reflective being in the contemporary worlds.
I studied the permutation and combination in my mathematics course but it is felt through the actual permutation and combination of 7 Kurta’s , 1 jeans shirt, 2 jeans pants, 2 trousers, 6 gamachha and 3 hankerchief which accompained me during 76 days. Nevertheless the some set of permuatation and combination of clothes yet to be appear.
In the various academic and contemplative articles as well as essays related to Corona crisis, the responsibility on the part of teachers and educational institutions to make something out of the box and constructive is envisioned. In this context, it is pertinent to share that the team of teachers, students, parents and SMC of Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Hari Nagar has envisioned and also constructed possibilities by travelling out of the box along three pedagogic frontiers such as (i) Hunger and Fundamental Needs (ii) Mental Health and (iii) Relevant and Emancipatory Pedagogy from 01 April 2020.
Teachers of government schools have acquired competency and readiness to effectively carry out humanitarian tasks like elections, census, distribution of government facilities, etc. Even today, constructive efforts are being done on many fronts by teachers and schools to deal with the humanitarian crisis during Corona epidemic. Besides, there are many tasks like distribution of cooked food, dry ration distribution, duty at quarantine centers, public awareness work, duty in shelter homes, Hospitals, escorting migrant workers which are carried out by teachers and schools. But often they are kept or merged in the category of government employees only.
On the other hand, the doctors, nurses, sanitation staff, security guards, police, civil defense workers and administrative officers are also involved in fighting with covi-19 and they are being recognized as Corona Warriors. Doctors, Nurses, police officers, sanitation workers are also part of the government administration but they are recognized distinctively by the identity category of their profession.
The identity of teachers as an expert is often defined in the category of general administration. The teacher’s identity is referred with great clarity to fix accountability and shift the blame of failure or under performance on teachers. In fact, teachers play a central role in elections, census, survey and disaster. But they are never identified as election warrior, social warrior, and disaster warrior. It is the act of minimization or zeroing or the marginalization or deprivation of their identities and which lead to the de-essentialisation of teaching as profession and mission.
teaching as profession or mission?
Further the process of de-essentialisation lead to de-humanization and thereby epistemic violence and othering of .both teachers and teaching as profession or mission. The sanitation staffs, security guards, nurses, doctors, police, civil defense, volunteers, security forces and others are certainly more vulnerable and encounter unidentifiable risks. So, it is necessary to pay our respect and gratitude by recognizing them as front-line-warriors and legend of humanity. But, teachers also need to be identified as warriors. The growing number of infected cases of teachers, principals/vice-principals, sanitation and security staff and some cases of martyr of teachers/principals are the examples of vulnerability and life-risks they encounter. Though, there is no value of recognition in serving the humanity .But ,it has administrative and discursive implications in the context of empowered identity of teachers and teaching.
The process of (mis)identification, (under)identification , (de) identification or (un)identification are deeply entrenched in the discursive politics of identify which lead to identify crises , hermeneutic injustice and othering of teachers and their teaching profession. There are some floating taken for granted beliefs and attitude which nurture epistemic violence against teachers and teaching which are carried out through discursive strategies of reduction, simplification, trivialization and ignorance of constructive contribution of teachers and schools in the local and global markets of tuition/coaching and banking system of education. On the other hand, the teachers and public educational institutions have served the people, society and humanity as organic intellectual, cultural workers, innovators social change –makers through creative alternatives during the humanitarian crises along with their routine works.
‘teachers are hardly being recognized as corona warriors’
In this crises, teachers and school have been emerged as warriors and cultivating possibilities on multiple frontiers. But, they feel alienated in the discursive process of mis-recognition or identification in the era of marketised educational regime(s).
Thus, teachers are hardly being recognized as corona warriors except in a few cases of symbolic significance. Although this does not matter to the teachers and educational institutions which have been cradle of culture and civilization across the ostory of mankind. The teacher works on many fronts, nurturing a person, society, system, culture and civilization while carrying out many responsibilities during his lifetime. Hence, the acts of reinterpreting or redefining their identities have far reaching implications on their confidence, creative excitement, creativity and performance. There are many instances in the country where teachers, schools and educational institutions have been .supporting people and groups in order to fight and conquer their ontological crises during this covid crisis.
As a head of School and a facilitator of human interaction in a Government school, namely, Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Hari Nagar, I, got opportunity to cultivate collbration among teachers, sanitation workers and security guards, estate managers, civil defense volunteers, local MLA, local leaderships, community members, gurudwarara prabandhan samiti, mobilizers and staff of SDM, DM and thereby facilitated the distribution of cooked food every morning and evening to about 7000 people and ration distribution to 500 people daily. This distribution of cooked food lasted for about 76 days and dry ration distribution still continues. Where, I along with my Estate Manager , sanitation staff and security guards could not to take a break even on Sundays or holidays.
The daily routine includes coming to school every day around 10-11 am and leaving school around 9:30 to 10:00 in the night, arriving home after half an hour. I used to take dinner around 11-11:15 after taking the necessary precautions and disinfecting myself which would take 1 hr easily. Then again I used to get up early in the morning and leave for school. Sometimes when dry ration used to arrive to school, we had to stay in school till 12 or 1 o’clock in the night.
Also, the duty period and time during COVID disaster, both were extensive than the normal days and unfavorable, but working in these 76 days has helped us gain unexpected experience and satisfaction by taking more responsibilities for some individuals and groups which are stuck at the ground level helpless situation, and unjust life situations. Today, I got inspiration from by finishing both the duties. As a human, my regularity at both fronts helped me to lessen the intensity of my guilt feeling of being a middle class and having privilege to work through mind than hand where I receive more salary and facilities for same or less hour than the fellow who work by hand than mind.
While working in the past 76 days, the first learning is that what is around you, in your neighborhood or in your locality is only ‘real’, everything else is ‘virtual’. Localism/society stands true; it comes in handy in a situation like epidemic or disaster.