Are our teachers equipped for the present and ready for the future?

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The need for teacher education and addressing shortage of teachers

Recognising the important role the teacher plays in the delivery of education, it is important to look at the challenges facing the country in ensuring that all children have qualified teachers in their classrooms.

Currently India faces an acute shortage of teachers. To achieve the sustainable development goals for education: ‘ensuring every child has access to a quality education by 2030’, UNESCO has projected that India will need to recruit 0 lakh additional teachers. This gap in school vis-à-vis teachers also finds reflection in the recent District Information System for Education (DISE).

Recent reports suggest that there are approximately 6.6 lakh teachers currently in the system who lack the requisite qualifications; in the Union education budget in 2016-17, a mere 1.17 per cent of the total is allocated to teacher education and training.

figures shared by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
figures shared by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

At a recent conference, the Secretary of Education rightly stated that availability and quality of teachers is the key factor for ensuring learning. Given that teachers are critical, there is an urgent need for pre-service teacher education, recruitment, providing continuous professional development opportunities and transfers.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development had invited recommendations to the Draft National Education Policy 2016 (NEP). This presented an opportune moment for the government to examine the issues relating to teachers and redesign Teacher education programmes.

No education system in the world has excelled without making a significant investment in building a cadre of quality teachers. Yet teacher education is one of the weakest links in the education sector in India. Against this backdrop, Tata Trusts have relentlessly focused on addressing some of the critical needs in education in India, especially with regard to teachers. With years of experience in working to improve access to quality education in some of the most remote geographies of India, while simultaneously addressing concerns of equity, through enhanced learning levels and opportunities, Tata Trusts has been ensuring appropriate learning levels, strengthening systems, training teachers, integrating appropriate technologies and mobilising communities. It has set up a core committee comprising well-known educationists to put forward a strategy on how teacher education should be addressed.

Listed below are some of the recommendations made by the Tata Trusts:

  • Focus on teacher education programme – restructuring of teacher education programmes, linking them to universities and schools. Create centres of excellence for Teacher Education.
  • Establish clear criteria for recruitment of students into teacher education.
  • Equip teachers with essential knowledge base and multiplicity of skills ranging from subject competence, understanding of the student, continuous assessment and instilling values and behaviours.
  • Increase motivation of teachers and equip them with skills by mobility within the system.
  • Use technology to tackle the problem of teacher absenteeism, and reward good performance.
  • Rein in substandard and unregulated teacher training institutes, 90 % of which are in the private sector.
  • Strengthen state-run institutes that suffer from multiple deficiencies, by a new institutional framework to formalize the accreditation process, develop institutional mechanisms for periodic monitoring of teacher training institutes and to ensure strict adherence to quality parameters
  • Help teachers identify their own professional development at least once every five years.
  • Encourage teaching as a professional career option for the brightest; higher education should diversify specializations into areas of curriculum and pedagogical studies.
  • Fill in the teacher vacancies and create state-specific norms for fair and equitable deployment of teachers.

(Tata Trusts are amongst India’s oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organizations that work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development through partnerships and direct implementation in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Enhancing Civil Society and Governance, Health and Arts, Crafts and Culture.)