Teaching the teacher in government schools

Teaching the teacher in government schools

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-06-01 17:42 "The quality of a nation depends upon the quality of its citizens. The quality of its citizens depends not exclusively, but in critical measure upon the quality of their education, the quality of their education depends more than upon any single factor, upon the quality of their teacher.”- The American Commission on Teacher Education. In an era of mounting choices and intensifying risks, it is the onus of the teachers to equip students with comprehensive skills that will aid them in identifying what is the “real deal.” For this to translate into a reality one needs to integrate in students, ‘cognitive’, ‘affective’ and ‘psychomotor’ skills. It is the teachers who are endowed with the task of orchestration so that they bring out the best in the child.Hence, there is a growing concern about the quality of teacher education in India which seems to be dire straits.On an optimistic note, the ‘Teacher Education Policy’ in India over time has considerably evolved on the basis of numerous recommendations. These indispensable recommendations hail from reports of the Kothari Commission (1966), the Chattopadyay Committee (1985), the National Policy on Education (NPE 1986/92), Acharya Ramamurthi Committee (1990), Yashpal Committee (1993), and the National Curriculum Framework (NCF, 2005). With the RTE (Right to Education, 2009) becoming operational from 2010, India has made some strides in toughening its foothold in government school education but still there are miles to tread as learning outcomes of Indian students continue to taper off at an alarming rate. More than 100 million elementary school children attend government run schools. “In 2008-2009, rural India accounted for more than 88�f India’s primary-school students, of whom over 87�ere enrolled in government-run schools.” This is where India encounters its toughest challenges. Hence it is vital that reform measures are taken to improve the quality of education provided to the students.Recently the 2011, Annual State of Education Report (ASER) came up with shocking findings. Class V students could not read sentences meant for Class II students; not even 1 in 5 students could recognise numbers from 11 to 99; and more than 3 out of 5 students were unable to solve simple mathematical problems. Therefore it can be easily stated that children even after attending school for five complete years are still at class II level.  Such appalling reading and math levels are exhibited by all Indian states. It should be carefully noted that this decline is cumulative, validating the fact that this learning decline has happened and eroded the government school education system in India over the years.Coupled with stubbornly declining learning levels is the mounting school drop-out rate that is further damaging government school education in India . According to the Statistics of School Education 2010-2011, the drop-out rate was 28.7 per cent at the primary level that further augmented to 40.3 per cent at the secondary level and to 50.4 per cent at the higher secondary stage; the precise reason for this is poor quality of education where children are not able to absorb what is being taught to them in the classrooms. We all are well aware that at present there are a diverse and nuanced set of limitations and problems that is crippling the scenario of Government school education in India. ‘High drop-out rates’, ‘low attendance’ and ‘declining learning levels’ are the major challenges that the government education sector is encountering. Amongst the multitude of factors that gives rise to these challenges; one cardinal factor is poor teaching quality.Time and again, teaching quality in government schools have been fiercely criticised and debated by pedagogues and policy makers but only Band-Aid support has been provided or prescribed. Clearly poor teaching quality is a manifold issue that can be categorized under distinct headings. Although a lot of planning and resources have been invested in improving teaching quality in government schools, it has somehow failed to realise its purpose. There are a host of factors that lead to poor teaching quality, and teacher training institutes have a major role to play as they unapologetically manufacture packs of teachers every single year without sound assessment of their capability to teach. As many as 1 in 5 primary school teachers do not have the requisite qualification to teach in schools. Over 99�f the aspiring teachers have been unsuccessful in clearing the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) in 2012. It is alarming to know that out of 7.95 lakhs appearing for the CTET, less than 1�as managed to sail through. What is more fascinating is that the pass percentage of 9�as slid to 7�rom 2011 to 2012. Remarking on the alarming results, Anita Rampal, former dean of Delhi University's faculty of Education, said: "Assuming that the nature of the questions are good and adequately challenging, then certainly this is a concern. The question is what the students are learning in B.Ed.? And I am not surprised as we know how these degrees (B.Ed.) are being awarded." After this dismal show, MHRD has opined that the Central Board of Secondary Examination should ask the teacher training institutes to improve their quality of teacher education and training. As Aurobindo Saxena, author of the report on ‘Overview of Indian Education Sector’ rightly puts it, “the education system in India suffers from a shortage of trained teachers and this is a big concern,” emphasising on the necessity to improve quality of teachers and teacher training courses.According to a recent development, the one year traditional (B.Ed.) programme will soon witness a fundamental transformation; a two-year comprehensive programme will now outdate the one-year course with modifications and a grander mission. This is happy news! But the poignant question that remains unanswered is, will teacher education ever be a part of the mainstream academia or will it still be addressed as a discreet specialized/vocational training? Is it because that teacher’s training is considered no different than any another vocational training that there is a constant loss of idealism?Therefore, it can be concluded that teacher preparation programmes and their education system needs to be addressed holistically by the educators and policy makers so that with time it does not become inefficacious. The teaching system has been fiercely criticised for its non-specific practices lacking content, tact and pedagogical skills. Although the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has suggested a change in the curriculum, nothing much has been indicated about the limitations and deficiencies of the former system. Hence it would be beneficial to know exactly the problem with ‘teacher’s education’ to understand the increasing paucity of well-trained and qualified teachers.On average 45�f primary teachers in India have not attended school beyond the 12�rade; Bihar has only 43�f qualified teachers followed by West Bengal. Lack of qualified teachers is also on the rise for both senior and senior secondary schools. K B Kothari, managing trustee of ‘Pratham' Rajasthan, opines, “the need of the hour is training and re-training of teachers with latest teaching pedagogy so that learning outcomes can improve which will ultimately improve the result and curtail the dropout."Ambarish Rai states, “The status of teacher-training and teacher- training institutes is equally poor; and there is no clear road-map to improve the situation and quality of education.” Drawing insights from this thought, a balanced and in-depth analysis of the present scenario will lead to credible research that should be conducted by policy makers that will not only facilitate in critiquing the present teaching practices but will also facilitate understanding of the quality of teaching in India so that it can be improved for citizens with different abilities and skill sets. This detailed report will also be the mantra for all teacher training institutions, who will realise that teacher training is not about ‘teaching’ rather it is about ‘preparing.’ Here are a few recommendations that can be looked upon for the road ahead:•      NCTE should effectively intervene in the functioning of the accredited teacher training institutes to ensure whether the mandatory norms and standards laid down by NCTE are being efficiently implemented by the institutes or not.•      The entire method of accreditation needs to be re-evaluated for quality control of teacher coaching institutions both by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) and NCTE. •      Both NAAC and NCTE should be extremely vigilant in ensuring that the guidelines of assessment and accreditation laid down by them are strictly abided by the teacher training institutes without discrepancy.•     At the Union Level, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), along with its six Regional Institutes of Education (REIs) should re-examine the operating teaching modules related to pedagogy, tool and instruction so that the curriculum does not become outdated. ●21st century classroom curriculum for teachers should encompass technology in training; optical technology, telecommunications, internet and networking should be included in the core curriculum of teacher training modules.  •     There should be a shift in focus from curriculum oriented learning to a community oriented learning; peer mentoring should be encouraged so that teachers get to learn from their peers and contemporaries leading to personal development and exchange of knowledge.•     Admission procedures into B.Ed. colleges should be strict and systematic so that quality is not compromised over quantity providing opportunities only for the deserving candidate. To conclude, a re-evaluation in curriculum combined with effective monitoring of existing regulations and policies will certainly help India to take a step forward in the right direction. Progressive measures such as these will not only enhance quality of teacher-education but will also improve students’ learning abilities. Author: With a degree in Management Studies, Ajay has over 10 years of rich experience in Process and Product Engineering and Program Administration. He has worked in organisations such as Tejas Networks, American Power Conversion (now Schneider Electric), Hical Technologies, and has successfully handled several projects and sustainability initiatives at The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Currently, Ajay is heading the Communications activities of the organisation.