Sometime around February 9, my maid came up to me with a Kannada newspaper and tentatively enquired whether I was free. She wanted to know whether I could help her fill in an application online for her sister Azira who was seeking a job in a Government Primary School as assistant teacher. Thinking that this should merely be a matter of downloading a form and handing over the printout for her to fill, I readily agreed. She showed me the URL in the newspaper: http://www.schooleducation.kar.nic.in. I typed it out in my browser and the page that opened up looked nice, in spite of many tabs everywhere. I took a deep breath and started looking through the tabs to find one that said ‘recruitment’. To my pleasant surprise, I found it quite quickly on the left side – a tab that said ‘Recruitment Information’. Encouraged, I clicked on a sub-tab called ‘Primary School Teachers’, and got nothing.
Disappointed, I started searching the entire site again, but could not find any links that led to the online application form. Even though newspapers directed you only to this site and urged you to apply before the March deadline, there was absolutely no link leading to the application form. So I ran a Google search on ‘Online Application Form for Government Primary School Teacher’. After some futile attempts, I finally reached a website called freshersnode.com where there was a link for online application, which led me to the URL: http://188.8.131.52/Default.aspx, which was the URL of the Centralised Admission Cell.
Finding this website took me about two days while I juggled between my personal work and searches. I proceeded to look through the application form. The application can only be submitted online, and here is the process:
- The first page of the form asks you to choose the taluk for which you want to apply and then takes some basic information about you.
- Immediately after submitting the first page, a bank challan is generated in PDF format.
- The challan needs to be printed and taken to State Bank of Mysore where the application fee of Rs. 420 needs to be paid and you get a stamp on the challan.
- You can then proceed to fill the rest of the four pages of a very detailed application form.
- After most of the information has been entered, you reach a page where you need to upload scans of:
- a Applicant’s passport size photo
- b Applicant’s left hand thumbprint
- c Applicant’s signature
- d Stamped bank challan
- Then there is one more page of form-filling and you can click on ‘Submit’ after reading dire warnings about not being allowed to make any changes once you click on submit. Fair enough. "Click".
The page suddenly went blank when I clicked ‘submit.’ In panic, I clicked on the ‘Back’ button on my browser, which led to an error screen. Fortunately, however, there is a helpful tab called ‘My Application’ through which you can check if all the forms have been ‘updated successfully,’ and they were. Sigh of relief. Be warned however, there is another tab called ‘Know your status’ which also looks like it would be very useful, but clicking on it makes your finger go sore, to absolutely no avail.
The entire process, including trips to the bank and to neighbourhood print shops to scan things, and the 6-page form-filling, took about four days, including the breaks I kept taking to do my other work. It made me think, ‘Oh good, they have made the application process so complicated, it should itself serve as an elimination round for non-hard working, non-smart teachers."
However, when I asked Azira how she would have submitted her application if I wasn’t helping her, I came to know that there is an internet centre set up in Indiranagar just to ‘assist’ aspiring applicants submit their applications, at a fairly low charge of Rs. 80 per applicant. This cafe would assist in form-filling, scanning of photo, fingerprints, etc and take you through right to the last step. The only thing that the applicant needs to do is go and pay the application fee at State Bank of Mysore.
When I checked the website while writing this article, I found a link on the homepage that shows up under "Latest news," which is the link for online application form. However, the deadline for submitting the application is long past now.
By this time, having interacted with Azira quite a bit, I got to know her better, and unfortunately, what I got to know did not inspire confidence and made me fear for the future of Indian education. She was not a good communicator – neither in English nor in Hindi. Her reasons for wanting to be a teacher in a government school were: 1) "That’s the only respectable job for a Muslim woman" and 2) "The salary is very good."
She currently works in a private school as a teacher and gets paid Rs. 5,000. In a government school, she can right away draw Rs. 20,000! I started wondering what kind of eligibility criteria could offer hope to someone like Azira, and also serve to eliminate someone like her. I started looking for model test papers for teacher eligibility tests. Once again, finding anything through the Karnataka school education department site was an impossible task. I found the Sample Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) paper on a Himachal Pradesh government website. Apparently the TET is the same across the country, except for the local language section.
There is something a bit strange about the TET. In one of the sections, it asks questions that seem to be childishly simple. For example, in the Child Development and Pedagogy section, there is a question as follows:
Due to an extended Winter break, the school management arranges for classes during holidays. What will be your reaction as a teacher?
- Protest and not take classes
- Request reconsideration of decision
- Tell students to prepare on their own
- Accept it as your responsibility
(They are clearly not testing for honesty through this test)
On the other hand, in the section testing English language skills, the questions seem much tougher:
The officer retired in 2008. No innovations have taken place __________.
(1) after (2) then (3) since (4) beyond
When I pleaded, the officer ____________ to my request for leave.
(1) exceeded (2) ekseeded (3) exceded (4) acceded
While these questions might appear easy enough to native English speakers, they can be extremely confusing to people who have studied in vernacular medium. I can’t imagine Azira getting any of the answers right, except by chance through random guesswork, which is how she probably got 4 marks out of 25 in the English section during her last attempt at the TET.
I feel tempted to apply for a teacher role in a government school after having gone through this process, but I probably won’t. Therefore I am trying to do the next best thing – to tutor Azira to pass the English and Math sections in the TET this year. Wish me luck!⊕