Robust teacher training programs need of hour


By Harshmeet Singh

With the advent of technology in the last couple of decades, the methods involved in education have evolved drastically. The chalks and blackboards have now been replaced by projectors and computer screens and the classes have turned into smart classes. With almost everything inside the classroom undergoing a change, there is one thing that has remained stationary – teacher.

Though many believe that technology has suppressed the role of teacher inside the classroom, there is little debate over the fact that teachers have managed to hold on their own and continue to be the biggest factor responsible for the child’s learning. A teacher’s job goes much beyond delivering lessons.

A computer, however advanced it may be, can never act as a motivator or role model to the kids the same way as a teacher does. Yet, due to our affinity towards technology, we are spending millions to bring the latest technology into the classroom while neglecting the biggest source of child’s learning – teacher. High-quality teacher training programs are virtually non-existent in India.

Shakuntala Arora, who has been teaching in a MCD school in Delhi for the past 20 years, tells NewsGram, “There are hardly any teacher training sessions from the government’s side. At best, a few teachers get called to attend sessions on physical training for students. But the teachers take it more as a vacation from the school rather than as a chance to learn anything new. It is so because there is no follow up from the teachers. On papers, there is everything. But hardly anything translates on the ground.”

The role of the teacher inside the classroom has undergone many changes in the past few years. The classrooms are now student-centric with the teachers required to act as facilitators. Rather than acting as the source of content, the teachers are now required to impart thinking and analytical skills to the kids. Such changes have further increased the need for teaching learning to equip the teachers with the adequate skills. Realizing the potential of the idea, many private teacher training institutes have mushroomed in cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai but only a few of them actually fulfill the mandated norms.

The National Policy on Education (1986) vouched for a large scale training scheme in the teachers’ training and recommended the formation of DIET (District Institute of Education and Training). Apart from DIET, NCTE was also established keeping in line with the NPE.

The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is the body overlooking all the private and public teacher training institutes in the country. Though the NCTE played an active role for many years by monitoring such institutes, its authority has faded away in the last few years, resulting into a surge in teacher education institutes across the country that run without any infrastructure or expertise. Many aspiring teachers enroll into these institutes to get a certificate which can be used as an add-on in the CV.

A number of such institutes sign an agreement with schools and send their ‘aspiring teachers’ to these schools to gain hands-on experience. The schools, in turn, use them as a free work force and assign them administrative work rather than making them teach inside the classrooms. With both sides getting what they want, neither is making any efforts to actual train the teachers for challenges inside the classroom.

With so much debate on how to improve our education system, we might have overlooked the most basic piece of the puzzle – the teachers. Improving the skills of our teachers would have a directly proportionate impact on the overall education scenario in the country.