Saturday, 21 September 2013

Teacher Education and challenges before a Resurgent India

Today, more than ever, teachers training continues to be a matter of priority for a country that is facing  problems associated with the shortage of adequately trained teachers. The training of a large, yet capable task-force of teachers that is  skilled enough is, therefore, the need of the hour! The introduction of the Right to Education has led to a need for a large number of teachers to fill vacancies that keep growing down the years. It has been noted that most of the teachers that we get are those who have achieved their training in institutions that are no more than teaching shops and to that effect, provide a certificate in teaching based on a lump sum fee! The mushrooming of Teacher Education Institutions throughout the country is an indication of the popularity of the profession! This, unfortunately has resulted in the creation of a workforce that has in many cases no interest or even aptitude for the profession.During the course of my professional life I have come across new recruits who despite of being highly accomplished MBAs. and even engineers have shown a total lack of sensitivity and patience to teach students in schools. One of the greatest drawbacks might be linked to the fact that their teacher’s training programme might not have trained them to be sensitive and empathetic to the varied needs of the students with whom they would be associated in their professional lives. A paradox would be that in India, the teaching profession is a last resort for those who have not been able to get through various entrance examinations including the Civil services. Often, a number of students passing out of teachers training colleges would have  crossed the age of thirty years, in most cases resulting in a sense of apathy and compromise resulting from the need to earn a living out of a forced choice! It goes without saying that teaching is for those who have a specific aptitude for the profession which according to many is a noble profession. If teachers are indeed Nation Builders, they should be be highly motivated and dedicated in their goals. With pay scales going going sky high, and Government assignments becoming more lucrative, graduates and postgraduates seem to be drawn towards a profession which promises free time after 2:00 p.m. and the possibility of taking up tuitions, coaching and other opportunities for supplementing their main income! One of my ideal educationists, Dr.Mahash Prasad kept telling me and my colleagues that an ideal teacher will never be a millionaire!
A large number of of advertisements appearing in newspapers and the electronic media promise a B.Ed. degree for a sum of money. They promise to take care of the needs for practice teaching and other issues! The promise of a secure job of teaching in a Government school, resulting from the ability to pass a state organised test should not be the only factor for determining eligibility to enter the profession! It is not just a question of intelligence that should determine whether or not one becomes a teacher, rather it is a combination of  both, intelligence as well as an aptitude for teaching! The challenge before recruitment drives for teachers is to determine  whether or not the prospective teacher has an inclination for teaching. Affiliations are given liberally to institutions which provide teacher’s training and this has resulted in a deterioration in the quality of training given to prospective teachers. One way of improving the quality of training at the B.Ed. level is to introduce rigour in the training process. This rigour should be in the teaching of Pedagogy or teaching methodology. In many cases one year is too less to train a professional teacher! The introduction of Continuous Comprehensive assessment from grades eight to ten has introduced challenges before training programmes. A suggested idea would be to increase the training period from one year to two years. It is clear that a resurgent India requires a task force of dedicated teachers, a task force that is motivated and capable to take up challenges from time to time. The time has come when it is not enough to have a degree in teaching, rather it is the need of the hour to produce a work force that is constantly upgrading its professional capabilities through action research and in service programmes. The main task before the National Council of Teacher Education is to plan and coordinate  teacher education programmes throughout the country, and to organise appropriate in service programmes for existing teachers to help them develop their pedagogical skills!
The Kothari Commission rightly believed that the success of National enterprise will depend on the quality and number of persons graduating out of schools and colleges. The quality education and its contribution to National development will be determined by the quality, competence and character of teachers. The Kothari Commission report rightfully questioned the quality of the teacher education programmes in the country! In its report on teacher education programmes in the country, the report suggested a revamping of the programme to make it vibrant and effective! The suggestions of the Kothari Education commission hold true even today! There is an even greater need today to nurture the knowledge, skills, and values of would be teachers in the country. There is a great need today to train teachers who can help students relate their lessons to every day life! Students are better able to relate to lessons in which they find connections to their everyday lives. It is up to an accomplished teacher to help his students to see the connections to everyday life! The University Education commission of 1948 rightly stressed the pivotal role of teachers in National development. Unfortunately, even today, the quality of training provided by many teacher’s training institutions throughout the country continues to be mediocre in nature!
There is a strong need today to ensure that all teacher training programmes are strictly monitored by a central agency to ensure that all programmes follow strict procedures and norms. The National Council of Teacher Education should therefore take up a more strict role to ensure that all the teacher training programmes in all institutions are being undertaken according to desired parameters. Teacher Education programmes in the country are expected to have a strong base in “well defined standards for various categories of school teachers”- Professionalization of teacher education in India: A critique of Teacher Education reforms and its effectiveness, Dr. Saroj Pandey, Associate Professor. It is clear that a lot more research needs to be conducted on making our teacher training programmes more effective today. While education at the school level continues to exist in a state of flux, little has been done to address the need to produce teachers who are professionally fit and competent. So called teaching shops continue to produce sub-standard teachers who somehow are able to pass the aptitude tests conducted by different states. The need of the hour is to have teachers who are competent enough to accept challenges and ready to, “unlearn what they have learned” in order to learn newer strategies of teaching. The need of the hour is to have teachers who are trained in the concept of experiential learning and the readiness to collaborate along with the learners! The sad fact is that the numerous teacher training colleges that we have in our country continue to churn out sub-standard teachers who do not have the aptitude for teaching! Unfortunately,  “The reality is that we are an under-staffed and under-funded, not very competent, confused and over bureaucratic bunch of people in teacher education today.”-NCERT Review of Teacher Education in India - + Viplav Baxi's Meanderings.htm
This article is dedicated to all my teachers who taught me during my B.Ed and M.Ed. courses in the Department of Education during the years 1993-1994
1. Education in India- Teacher Education Vision of Kothari Commission and its realization- + Mohd.Akhtar Siddiqui,
2.Professionalization of teacher education in India: A critique of Teacher Education reforms and its effectiveness, + Dr. Saroj Pandey, Associate Professor.
3.NCERT Review of Teacher Education in India _ Viplav Baxi's Meanderings.htm

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