Accepted paper:

The Making and Unmaking of a Teacher-Bureaucrat in India


Vincy Davis (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

Government teachers in India embody a dual professional identity as educators and as civil servants. This paper examines how teachers are socialized into these roles, which at times clash and create dissonance, affecting routine work and their self-perception as professionals.

Paper long abstract:

Previous studies have noted how teachers regularly struggle to manage their core duties as educators alongside non-education department functions. Being one of the last mile offices of the Indian state, government schools are not just organized spaces to facilitate teaching-learning but also double up sites where services spanning other departments such as health and social welfare are dispensed. Teachers are instrumental in fulfilling these roles but this reality is often undermined in discussions on teacher quality and learning outcomes in the Indian context. This paper reviews contemporary studies exploring teacher recruitment, training, and experiential accounts to raise important questions surrounding professional norms and everyday practices of government school teachers in India. The central argument of this paper is that there appears to be competing set of expectations which creates a warped sense of professional identity among teachers, affecting morale and routine functioning as educators. It further examines practices through which teachers navigate their career in a heavily bureaucratised public education system, managing multiple expectations, often through subversive means. The paper concludes by problematising the conventional notion of a civil servant in the current context and discusses the implications of the core arguments in light of education reforms in India.

panel P079
Politicized bureaucrats in and beyond Europe: conflicting loyalties, professionalism and the law in the making of public services [LAWNET]