For this 35-year-old woman from Villupuram district, teaching was never her dream job. But today, she feels teachers are the ones who need to protest against the school syllabus for the state board students in Tamil Nadu.
Sabarimala Jayakanthan resigned as the primary school teacher from the Panchayat Union School in Vairapuram on Thursday to protest against NEET examination and the current state syllabus.
She has been a teacher for the last 17 years and hails from Tindivanam. “I also wanted to be a doctor, but unfortunately when I was in Class XII, I fell sick and could not write my Class XII examination properly. My parents asked me to go and become a teacher, but I was not very interested in it,” says Sabarimala.
Things, however, started changing once Sabarimala started teaching students in villages. “I could see how the students did not have any proper facility in the schools. Then, I was on a mission to teach my students well and make them achieve their dreams. I have been very vocal about the education system and the outdated syllabus,” she says.
After the death of medical aspirant Anitha on September 2, she was sure it was time to stand up and fight for all the students studying in rural areas. “In the current scenario where there is no social justice, I kept questioning myself that how can I go back to school and teach students the same syllabus and create more Anitha’s. Moreover, while working as a teacher in a government school, I could not go out and protest against the syllabus and the system. The job would have become a hindrance, so I decided to resign,” she says.
“I have been telling all my students to become like APJ Abdul Kalam and have been showing them big dreams which will transform their lives, but when they reach Class XII and face an exam like NEET, what will I tell them? NEET is a social injustice,” Sabarimala adds.
She believes that there should be one syllabus for all. “When they decided to keep one examination for medical seats, then why did they not think of giving the same textbooks to all the students? Without giving the same syllabus to all, how can they give the same examination to all? Some are studying state syllabus, others CBSE and few others ICSE, then how can they have the same NEET examination? All should study the same syllabus and from the same textbooks.”
She feels that if she did not resign now, she will be wronging herself and her students. “I had an awakening after Anitha’s death, so I could not stay in the same job anymore. I could not bring a change staying in the same job,” she says.
When asked about what she plans to do next, she says, “I will go to all the villages, speak to children and spread awareness about the syllabus and education system. I want to make students understand that they will be able to achieve their goals even though there are many hurdles like NEET. I will speak in schools and also speak up for the students studying in rural areas. I believe if there was someone to speak to Anitha, I’m sure she would not have committed suicide.”