There has been a lot of deliberation over the level of qualification and skills of teachers teaching across schools in India. Teacher training policies have been reviewed and commissions appointed to study and report on the scenario.
The school teachers in India, before they enter the rolls of their respective schools, get through a course at District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), in certain cases 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 centred on capacity building themes like the introduction to ICT etc. All the trainee teachers and educators invariably have a teaching degree i.e. B.Ed / M.Ed.
Comparison with other nations and their models of teacher training has brought to light opportunities as well as constraints present in our own schooling system. The portrayal of the Indian education scenario is not conceivable without pointing out the difference that exists in the quality of education between government and private schools. The difference oftentimes reaches to the point of contradiction. Reports of 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 education that becomes instrumental in turning them into leaders of the knowledge economy.
Adding to the bipolarity in the Indian education experience, we have seen the rise and functioning of International schools and international programmes in 21st century. These programmes have been informed by global standards of education and implemented by indigenous educators. The teachers trained for conducting the international curricula are themselves, alumni of the same or similar teacher training institutes as their counterparts teaching in government schools, nevertheless, there is such an obvious difference in performance, starkly apparent in learning outcomes that it becomes natural to suspect that something is amiss.
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 at 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.
DIET’s around the country have been running courses which are reinforcing the lessons in child psychology and handling of community attitude. The states have also exempted teachers from extra official duties, yet it did not seem to suffice in raising 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.
Interestingly, government teachers are better paid than their private school counterparts and have job security. Ironically, some see that as the reason for non-performance. When prospects of growth in career are not dependent on the performance there is no incentive to be better at their job. If that is the case that’s a catch 22. If we do not provide good remuneration and job security no one comes forward to be a teacher, at least none of the worthy ones and when they are given that they create the defunct scenario which we originally tried to avoid.
The potential of teachers is not directly assessed by tests, unlike their recruitment. The performance of their students reflects the level of competence of their teachers. The results of several reliable tests of the academic ability of children in government schools, like the ones conducted by ASER, have been shockingly sub-par. What disappoints the most is not just the outcome of training of teachers which is deficient in several areas but also the education system which tolerates persistent low performance. Private schools are using recruitment management solutions (like http://www.educatorone.com) to hire teachers and achieve consistent learning outcomes.
The solution lies in effective use of resources including the demotivated human resource which we have in the form of the cadre of teachers. We have discussed how companies have and can come forward and make systemic changes that would go a long way, click here to read.
The solutions which are successfully tested through CSR initiatives include Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools set up, which have been successful to deal with the resilient incompetence of teachers in the government schools.
There is also a common theory that it is the education at the secondary level and above that, which really brings out the difference of 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. To allay such misconceptions, it has forcefully been emphasized by various national and international organizations that not only the primary classes but the pre-primary classes as well need teachers with proven acumen and experience. One hopes that there will occur welcome changes in the standard of government-run preschool or aanganwadis with the intervention of corporates which is in the pipeline. We have covered the corporate’s ICDS aanganwadi initiative in the separate post click here to read.
Being a nation that has passed Right to Education Act makes it obligatory upon states to ensure that every child gets educated, it is rational to be expected of us to ensure that the education thus imparted is not wanting in quality, in fact, that is implied in the very text of the act.
The pedagogical approach of teachers of the notable private schools, subscribing to both national and international curricula, is something that must be analyzed. In addition to that, there are certain measures taken by organizations like Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate which are really a rich resource 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. (We have dealt with IB PYP in a separate article) Such interventions which broaden the role of the teachers and enhance the involvement has the power to redefine education and must be used.
The curriculum of the education degrees that enables graduates to be teachers in India does not reflect obvious lacunae, neither is there a shortage of supplementary in-service training programmes on pedagogy, teaching aids etc. It is not to say that there have never been instances of criticism of the curriculum. Agencies like NCERT has criticized the curriculum of the bachelors and masters programme 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 the part of the curriculum. There have been calls from several quarters to restructure the field experience component for providing realistic exposure to trainee teachers.
All the interventions, directly or indirectly, talk of increased involvement of teachers in implementation of the educational programme of schools and curriculum. Regular scrutiny of the performance in terms of learning outcomes are indispensable to change the state of affairs.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.