“If a person teaches me one single word, he has made me his servant for the lifetime”―HazratAli AS
A very shameful incident occurred, the video of which was released on November 25, 2019 wherein Professor Ijaz of City College, Multan was ruthlessly assaulted by a group of five 22 years old students. One can see in the video, how armed with sticks, these boys continue to beat the teacher while the others pushed, kicked and punched him like a pack of hungry wolves. What was the fault of the teacher? He dared to reprimand them for misbehaving at a musical function of the college, the price of which he had to pay by this molestation. His defensive pleas: “I’m a teacher, for God’s sake, I’m a teacher” fell on deaf ears and they continued their bashing. The most contemptible act was then uploading this episode on YouTube for the whole world to see their “remarkable” feat and to further humiliate the good professor. All the words in the world are insufficient to express one’s condemnation about this inhuman and reprehensible happening.
What kind of a message was being transmitted by posting this horrific video? That it is a matter of pride to behave in a violent manner with one’s elders? That any misdemeanor by students should not be taken cognizance of by teachers? That the perpetrators are powerful and above law and can get away by admittedly committing a crime in the clear view of a camera? That this society has become chronically sick beyond cure? No wonder southern Punjab has such a high crime rate with deplorable acts of unprecedented nature carried out by the local overlords and their cronies particularly on the weak and poor.
While commenting on the outcome of directionless education, the Sub-continent’s great poet of satire, Akbar Allahabadi said:
Hum aisi kul kitabain qabil-e-zabti samahjtay hain
(We consider all those books fit to be confiscated)
Keh jinko purh kay larkay baap ko khabti samajhtay hain
(Which teach boys to consider their father insane)
This is so true! A teacher is like a father and only a lunatic would ever think of abusing his parents. Were these boys actually students or just vagabonds from the streets because no matter which class one belongs to respect for teachers is a universally accepted fact. In the days of yore, parents would hand over their child to the tutor with these words: “His bones are ours and flesh is yours” which of course was not meant in the literal sense but a proverbial way of indicating that the mentor had the freedom to train his disciple in the way he thought best even if it envisaged some form of punishment.
The status of the teacher can never be underestimated nor does the profession of teaching have any parallel because the holy prophets of all known and forgotten religions were teachers sent by God, to be considered sacred and to be revered.
Anyone who spreads knowledge and wisdom following in the footsteps of the great prophets deserves to be respected and treated properly. Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA said: “The death of a thousand worshipers is easier to bear than the death of a scholar who has knowledge of what Allah has permitted and forbidden.”
Perhaps not in Pakistan but definitely in the West, teaching is one of the highest paid professions as illustrated in the following tables released by OECD showing annual salary packages with Luxembourg topping the list for both elementary and high school teachers.
Comparing this data with the meager salary doled out to our teachers that is insufficient for them to make a living that is at par with other professionals it is not surprising that people show little regard for the builders of the nation in a society that has replaced veneration for the knowledgeable with that of the wealthy. Lithuania which pays US$ 20,000 (equivalent to PKR 3.1 million) is on the lowest rung, yet is at least ten times higher than the average Rs. 300,000 earned by our school teachers in a year. With this existing state of affairs how can we expect to emerge as a well-groomed and honorable nation where there is hardly any difference between school/college-going students and street urchins? There is an urgent need to reform our institutions the beginnings of which would be enhancing the status of teachers and inculcating respect for them among the people of this country.
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)