Sunday November 18, 2018

Robust teacher training programs need of hour

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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 The chalks and blackboards have now been replaced by projectors and computer screens and the classes have turned into smart classes.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.

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Tips To Help In Decision-Making If You Wish To Study Abroad

We can learn every single day but only if we are open to it.

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Five tips to decision-making if you want to study abroad

Among the more important things we do in life is to take decisions. At a time of information overload, this can be particularly challenging. And yet, this is the time of year when students have to make up their minds on their future course of study abroad. It is one of the most difficult and important decisions they would need to take and would, most certainly, impact them for the rest of their lives.

Trends suggest that there would be an increasing number of Indian students who would be opting for higher studies, particularly in Australia.

What are some of the key things to keep in mind?

Abroad, study
Employability is not a quotient of how many books we have read or quotations we know by heart. Wikimedia Commons

Do your homework, but don’t get bogged down: Doing your homework and basic research are important, but too much information can make decision-making difficult and even confusing. It is important to decide what subject you would like to pursue, where you would like to study abroad, whether you meet the entry and eligibility criteria and, finally, do you have the required funds to pay for it. Given the Indian Rupee-Australian Dollar exchange rate, studying in Australia is significantly cheaper than opting for the US and the UK, which pose additional and new challenges.

Know how to apply: If you are going through an education agent, first find out which education agents have been empanelled by the university of choice. For instance, the internationally-ranked University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, has only 12 registered India-based education partners. No one else is authorised to process student applications. The list is available on the university’s website. Furthermore, empanelled agents are not authorised to charge students for services they render. Such payments, or commissions, are paid by the university.

Abroad, study
India needs a world-class higher educational system Pixabay

Know why you are pursuing higher studies: Simon Sinek, in his path-breaking book, “The Power of Why”, emphasised the misplaced emphasis that so many place on “what” and “how” without ever knowing “why”. If we know “why” we are planning on a particular course of action, other things fall in place. In terms of sequencing, “why” is where we first start. You can decide, for instance, to pursue an undergraduate course in Finance and Accounting if you are clear in your mind as to why you would like to do so. Once you know your “why”, the “where” is easy.

Embrace Change: Often our parents, in particular, and sometimes even we, fear the uncertain. Living abroad, especially if it is the first time, can be challenging. Is it safe? What is the culture like? Would my son or daughter make friends? Would the studying and living culture cause problems? These are all legitimate questions and anxieties. At the same time, if the decision is to study abroad, it is important to be open to change. Some things might be similar to what we are used to but there would be big differences in several other aspects. What is particularly fascinating is that “other cultures” open up the mind to new ways of seeing and thinking — and even behaving.

Also Read: The Critique Of The Indian Education System

Learn with Passion: We can learn every single day but only if we are open to it. “Smell the roses” we are told and yet, we rarely do. Employability is not a quotient of how many books we have read or quotations we know by heart but how we are able to relate with our external environment. This is what employers look for because what they want are persons who can work in a team, who can take decisions and, consequently, who anticipate and solve problems without compromising on integrity and values. Great educational institutions recognise this and embed it into their pedagogy. It is what makes them stand out. (IANS)