They do not necessarily have the prescribed qualification of a teacher but share a good rapport with children and have a passion for teaching. Meet the new-age parent volunteers, who are increasingly being preferred by schools as substitute teachers.

Varsha Aswani has been associated with Sindhi Model Senior Secondary School, where her two children study, for six years now as substitute teacher. She is called in December, when the school hosts different events, for ten days before the Independence Day, and during the excursion season.

“In fact, I am willing to chip in anytime of the year,” says Ms. Aswani, who has studied till class X and got married at the age of 18. “Sometimes we are asked to manage one of the primary sections when the class teacher has to go with a group of children, say for a recitation competition,” she adds. Like her, there are two to three homemakers in the school who are substitute teachers.

Finding teachers tough

Quite a number of schools in the city rope in parents on a temporary basis when the teachers go on an unexpected leave. While some pay them depending on the duration they spend in school, many parents perform an honorary role with no remuneration. Schools are encouraging this idea as they say getting good teachers is a challenge and having a permanent set of substitute teachers on the rolls is not economically feasible.

Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Church Park has identified at least six parents in the PTA. But, the school is particular the parent has a Montessori or B.Ed. qualification. “We get the bio data of parents, so we know who has the qualification. In some cases we are surprised by the way parents mould their child that we send across a message to find if they are ready to help us out as substitute teachers,” says Pauline Gomez, coordinator of the primary school. She says sometimes parents are even called during the class XI common examination to help teachers in the supervision job.

Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam had sent out a formal circular inviting parent as volunteers. C.S.I. Ewarts Matriculation Higher Secondary School sometimes call the old students, whose children study in the same school.

Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram prefers homemakers who have some work experience. A few schools rope in parents to play a holistic role. So, how different is the role of a teacher and parent? “Teachers complement the role of a parent in school, while parents complement at home. But, one cannot be the other in totality,” says Savithri Muralidharan, who worked as teacher for over two years with Chettinad Harishree Vidyalayam to later quit and become a parent volunteer with the school. “My role remains the same, only that there is flexibility – I do not have to set question papers or correct note books,” adds Ms. Muralidharan, who comes two to three times a week to the school.

But, getting parents to take up the job is not easy either. Vel's Vidyashram, Pallavaram carried the announcement in the school notice board for nearly 15 days but the response was “not very good”. According to Jailaxmi Rammoorthy, principal of the school, of the 110 teachers 10 per cent are absent on any given day. “Our main requirement was also to offer parents an avenue. They would mainly assist the teacher or depending on the qualification be the main teacher,” she says.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012