There has been a lot of deliberation over the level of qualification & skills needed for school teachers in India. Teacher training policies have been reviewed and commissions appointed to study and report on the scenario.
◊ School teachers in India, before they enter the roles of their respective schools, get through a course at the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET). In some instances teachers come to DIET after joining the schools. DIET also trains in-service teachers if the need for supplementary training is assessed. These supplementary training modules are centered on capacity-building themes like introduction to ICT etc. All trainee teachers and educators invariably have a teaching degree, i.e. B.Ed / M.Ed.
◊ Compared to other nations and their teacher training models, our schooling system presents both opportunities and constraints. It is impossible to portray the Indian education scenario without mentioning the difference between public and private schools in terms of their quality. The difference oftentimes reaches the point of contradiction. Reports of the dismal performance of government schools and dysfunctional primary schools abound and as if in a parallel dimension, private school teachers with equivalent qualifications are able to give their students an education that becomes instrumental in turning them into leaders of the knowledge economy.
◊ Adding to the bipolarity of Indian education, international schools and international programs have emerged and developed in the 21st century. Educators from indigenous cultures have developed these programs based on global standards. The teachers trained for conducting the international curriculum are themselves alumni of the same or similar teacher training institutes as their counterparts teaching in government schools, but there are such obvious differences in performance, starkly apparent in learning outcomes, that it is natural to suspect something is wrong.
◊ With all these facts in sight, it is not possible to deny that there is a systemic issue that plagues the competence-building of teachers.
◊ There are quite a few valid points of view such as the one which points to the demotivation of teachers resulting from witnessing the environment of the schools, attitudes of their senior teachers, bureaucratic interference, parental negligence, etc. While that is exactly why the NCERT has recommended field extensive training for teachers in their graduate courses.
◊ Children’s psychology and handling community attitude has been reinforced in DIET courses throughout the country. In addition, the states exempted teachers from extra official duties, but it didn’t seem to raise their performance. 40% of the students in India study in private schools, it must be noted that the ones who are studying in government schools are those who do not have a choice in the matter.
◊ In contrast to their private school counterparts, government teachers are better paid and have more job security. Ironically, some see that as the reason for non-performance. When prospects of growth in a career are not dependent on performance there is no incentive to be better at their job. If that is the case that’s a catch-22. We will not attract the best teachers, at least not those who are worthy of the profession, unless we provide good remuneration and job security. When given that, they create the defunct scenario we originally tried to avoid.
◊ It is not possible to directly assess the potential of teachers through tests, as opposed than through their recruitment. Teachers’ competence is reflected in the performance of their students. Children in government schools have performed shockingly poorly on several reliable tests of academic ability, such as those conducted by ASER. It is not just the lack of teacher training that disappoints, but also the education system that tolerates low performance for too long. In private schools, recruitment management solutions are used to hire teachers and ensure consistency in teaching and learning.
◊ The solution lies in the effective use of resources including the demotivated human resource which we have in the form of a cadre of teachers.
- Solutions such as Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools are successfully tested through CSR initiatives in order to deal with the resilient incompetence of teachers.
◊ There is also a common theory that it is education at the secondary level and above that, which really brings out the difference in the level of competence of private and public school teachers because in lower classes learning outcomes are not clearly defined besides some language and subject skills. As a result of such misconceptions, various national and international organizations have forcefully emphasized the importance of having teachers with proven expertise in both primary and pre-primary classes. One hopes that there will occur welcome changes in the standard of government-run preschools or Anganwadi with the intervention of corporates which is in the pipeline.
◊ As a nation with the Right to Education Act, which requires states to ensure that every child gets a good education, it is reasonable for us to ensure that the education provided by us is of high quality; indeed, that is implied in the very text of the law.
◊ It is important to analyze the pedagogical approach of teachers of notable private schools who adhere to both national and international curriculum. Furthermore, organizations like Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate have taken measures that are valuable resources in themselves. Designing of IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) syllabus is incumbent upon the teachers as well. They are provided with a framework and support using which they have to design and implement the curriculum. Such interventions which broaden the role of the teachers and enhance the involvement has the power to redefine education and must be used.
◊ Graduate education programs in India do not contain obvious lacunae, nor are there deficiencies in supplementary in-service programs on pedagogy, teaching aids, etc. It is not to say that there have never been instances of criticism of the curriculum. Agencies like NCERT have criticized the curriculum of the bachelor’s and master’s programs in education saying that it fails to take into account differences in the context in which teachers are required to function. There have also been questions about the ‘field experience’ which forms part of the curriculum. There have been calls from several quarters to restructure the field experience component for providing realistic exposure to trainee teachers.
◊ Whether directly or indirectly, all interventions call for greater teacher involvement in implementing schools’ and curriculums’ educational programs. Regular scrutiny of the performance in terms of learning outcomes is indispensable to changing the state of affairs.