Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
Teachers are termed as the builders of the nation, as they educate and train the future citizens of the country. Hence today we see more and more children going to schools for education. Till a few years back there were many children who were deprived of education. The parents of the economically backward section did not realize the value of education. For them educating a child was mere waste of money and time. It was considered to be much better to engage the children in various jobs
But now parents have realized the value of education and its importance in shaping the future of their child. Government has also offered many incentives to the children of poor parents to attract them towards education. We see today more and more children going to school. The teachers have a very heavy duty to train these children. They are doing a great job, but some of them may not have the adequate training and qualification needed for the job. Hence it is essential to educate the educators.
Teacher’s education has become an important part of education scenario. It was in 1840, Edward Carleton Tufnel, a civil servant, established the Baltersea College in England in order to equip tutors with the methods of handling children living on the streets of London. The teacher must know the mental attitude and the ability of the students and then only he would know how to generate interest and attention in the minds of the students. A successful teacher must generate interest in each student and only then he can command the attention of the students.
The concept of teacher-education was not prevalent in India, but now it has been started, though it is only a few decades old. Though teacher-education was not in existence, Maria Montessori did make the effort to train teachers in accordance with the needs of children in 1939, while she was in Madras. Today the Montessori-trained teachers are very much in demand.
The setting up of the National Council of Teacher Education, through an Act of Parliament in 1993, marked the first step in the institutional control of teachers’ education. The objectives of the NCTE was “to achieve planned and coordinated development of the teacher-education system throughout the country, and the regulation and proper maintenance of norms and standard in the teacher education system”.
Before an inspection institutions are decked up. But after the supposed ‘inspection’ process is over the things are back to square one. Because of these glaring deficiencies many privately managed teacher-education institutions have been opened. But they are not up to the standard. Once the recognition from NCTE comes through, the authorities of these private institutions do not care for quality and norms are disregarded. Now we see a mushroom growth of teacher-education institutions and their objective is to collect money and not to impart adequate training to the teachers. Hence it is seen that the teachers who come out from these institutions are not really properly equipped to make education process successful. In the ancient era the preceptors or the ‘gurus’ as they were called, did not need any educators to train them, as the gurus themselves were enlightened scholars. They were like fathers to the young pupils, for whom the command of the Guru was like a divine command. The education in that age covered a vast area. The pupils were also taught to be self-reliant, self-dependent and skilled in every field of knowledge. Moral education was given great importance. But such dedicated and enlightened teachers are no longer available. Hence teacher-education has become absolutely necessary for making successful teachers.
But today’s teachers are entirely different from their counterparts in the ancient era. Hence they have to be given education before they impart education to others. One severe drawback of the Indian system is the marked emphasis on theory, against practical components. Because of this defect the teachers have little knowledge of the actual situation in the class room. This defect was noticed by Malcolm Skilbeck and Helen Connell as early as 2003 and it was mentioned in their report to the Australian government titled “Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers”. The report noted that “professional standards in teaching should not only typically refer to the content or subject-matter knowledge of teachers, but their communicative capability, their ability to organize, monitor, assess and evaluate learning and their practical competence as managers of learning in the school and the class room”.
The importance of practical learning was realized by India as late as 2010, when the “National Curriculum Framework of Teacher Education” declared that teacher-education must engage with theory along with field experiences to help trainees to view knowledge not as external to the learner, but as something that is actively constructed during learning. Teacher-education should integrate academic knowledge and professional learning into a meaningful whole. On a modest estimate the country will require at least a decade to translate this critical observation to reality. It is very true that education cannot be complete and worthwhile unless practical training is added to theoretical knowledge. That was the reason why Mahatma Gandhi laid so much emphasis on practical knowledge in his conception of basic education.
Education is the birth right of every child. For many years after independence a large number of children never entered any school. They used to work in various places to earn money. But since 2009 Act-Right of children has become Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education. This Act requires school enrolment of all children up to the age of 14, that is, primary education for all children below the age of 14 has been made compulsory. If this Act is implemented strictly, then crores of children would seek admission at various schools. So teachers must acquire enough professional dexterity to manage and educate such a large number of students.
The consequences of such a severely compromised school education shall be felt universally in our socio-cultural, economic and technological spheres for decades to come. It is a matter of concern that some states are evading the need for serious full-time teacher-education programmes with hastily planned, sketchily executed and casual training courses under the open and distance mode with a view to attain the required number of ‘trained’ teachers to satisfy the requirements of the Right to Education Act.
It can be said that India’s teacher-education scenario is an unenviable mix of poor quality and equally poor numbers. Teacher-education scheme has never been taken seriously either by the government or by the institutions or by the teachers. For them it is just a passport to the service in a school.
We do not any more have born teachers, but they are made. The gurus in the ancient era were born preceptors. Today’s teachers have to be trained to become successful teachers. But it is unfortunate that education today has turned into a business. Most of the institutes aim at accumulating money, but not in imparting education. Teachers too do the job in a perfunctory manner without any sincerity.
In these difficult times the teachers’ duty is very heavy. They have to impart moral education as well besides the lessons in accordance with the syllabus. Since example is better than precept teachers have to lead a moral life to inspire the students. In ancient era the gurus or the preceptors led a moral and spiritual life. Such life is not possible in this modern era, but now also the teachers can be virtuous and hard-working in order to be ideal to the students. But maybe, due to the present materialic ideas, everybody concentrates on money, property and other luxuries. Hence there is this tendency to earn money by hook and crook. It is true that the teachers also need money to lead a comfortable and respectable life. But for that they cannot sacrifice their responsibility and duty.
It is often heard that there are some teachers who earn huge amounts of money by private tuition. There is no harm in coaching students privately if it is beneficial to them. But it is also sometimes said that some teachers intimidate the students with dire consequences if they do not take private tuition from them. We also hear that often the teachers do not have sufficient knowledge of the subject they are required to teach. Unless he has thorough knowledge of the subject, he cannot possibly do justice to his job.
A worthy teacher does not depend on notes and he has to work hard and study diligently to teach the students. Education is an ongoing process and it does not end. Hence a teacher worth the name must learn while he teaches. Knowledge is a progressive process; it is not static. Mere acquirement of a degrees does not make a person a scholar. The teacher has to study hard learning new ideas and current topics. So teacher-education has to be a progressive process.
Teaching is a great and noble job; it cannot be done in a haphazard manner. The Indian Education Commission, chaired by DS Kothari, declared in 1964 that “the destiny of India is now being shaped in her class rooms”. It remains to be seen how our policy planners address the crucial challenges faced by teacher-education. These challenges are threatening to destroy the national intellectual wealth. It is time to take action to preserve our intellectual wealth by successful teacher-education scheme.