Are teachers villains or victims?

At some point or the other in their lives, almost everyone has held the view: 'If only teachers did their work better, so many problems would be solved...'  Schools would be so much better off, isn't it? Education would be great and our lives very different as a result; in fact, society itself would change, if only teachers did their work better.

People who think thus are, of course, only being 'nice'. Because there are any number of others who have less 'nice' ways of putting it. 'Bloody teachers, curse them, they don't work at all. They're never there in school, and when they're there they don't teach. And if they teach, they don't teach properly, beat children, and don't even know themselves what they're supposed to teach. All they're interested in is their salaries, and making money from the grants that flow to the school.'

In fact, this is unfortunately a very widely held view, especially among officials, supervisors, trainers and others who are in any way responsible for and towards teachers. Condemn them, point out all their flaws (exaggerate where it helps) and hold them accountable for all the ills of the education system. Teacher condemnation remains the starting point of many discussions related to improving education.

Anyone who spends time in school trying to implement what teachers are asked do on a daily basis soon finds that motivation has a way of evaporating rather rapidly. You're supposed to teach children of one class, but you find yourself teaching more than one class, of children at different ages, with huge variations among them.  Often, you don't know their language, and whatever you do, so many of them seem not to be getting it at all (partly also because they cannot attend regularly). Far from support, you get indifference (often derision) from those who are supposed to support you (head teachers, community representatives, supervisors, officials). Soon, if you happen to be from another area than your posting, you start trying to get yourself transferred.

Those 'above' them are not immune to exploiting teachers either - using their services to support their own administrative tasks, or even asking them to pay bribes for getting their travel allowance or even school grants (I came across a state where teachers used to be paid only Rs.400 as the TLM grant, with someone siphoning off Rs.100!).

But this doesn't mean teachers should absent themselves from school or beat children up, you would say. It's true, they shouldn't. It's just that it's so hard (and rare) to experience success as a teacher that it's not so surprising. Perhaps our system is victimizing teachers such that they're becoming villains? Or do you think they're only victims? Or are they really villains?