Dr. Jaspal Singh Warwal
Thus, the emphasis has been laid on multi-disciplinary approach. Besides, the policy made it mandatory for the National Council for Teacher Education to develop a common guiding set of National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) by 2022. The aforesaid professional standards shall be reviewed every 10 years. Teacher transfers shall also be halted as far as possible.
It is well-known that teacher education plays an important role in the preparation of professionally sound teachers. But we cannot raise the quality of our teachers unless and until we have a strong teacher education system in place, which is relevant to the changing needs of time and society. Presently, there are many defects /short-comings in our teacher education system, which have been noticed occasionally from research work and many times during or through inspections or via complaints by the stakeholders. In 2012, Justice J.S. Verma Commission also found that the teacher education of the country has gone to the abyss. Surveys conducted across the country have found that our teacher education institutions are sub-standard and their processes and practices are very poor in quality. This commission set-up by the Supreme Court clearly stated that about 10,000 institutes of teacher education are not seriously trying even the least for teacher education, but instead selling the degrees at higher prices. The regulatory efforts undertaken so far could neither prevent widespread corruption in the system, nor implement the very basic standards set for the minimum level of quality. Consequently, sub-standard teacher education institutions and mal-practices were at a high during the past one decade. Thus, mushrooming of sub-standard institutions, mal-practices adopted by these institutions and above all the complacent approach of the regulatory authorities at various levels had negatively impacted our teacher education institutions. When one could not even think of minimum standards of quality conformance then innovation and excellence seemed far-fetched propositions.
Therefore, there is a dire need for revival of education sector and more specifically teacher education sector so that higher standards of quality could be set-up. There is urgent need to transform our educational institutions in their entirety to make them relevant to the learning needs of twenty- first century learners. Our future generations / learners will need a world quality education and skills to be globally relevant. Its needless to say that due to liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, the boundaries are fading away and the entire World has become a global hub, where our future learners have to compete and co-exist.
The regulatory authorities like universities and NCTE will have to work together in closed coordination across the country to restore the integrity and fading glory of teacher education with their continuing efforts. The National Education Policy 2020 envisions that to encourage innovations and excellence, it should be the goal of all major multi-disciplinary universities, as well as all public & private universities and multi-disciplinary colleges, to set-up and develop excellent education departments that provide cutting-edge research in education. To educate future teachers in collaboration with departments related to psychology, philosophy, sociology, neuroscience, Indian languages, arts, music, history and literature as well as other specific subjects like science and mathematics, multi- disciplinary approach be used along with conduct of Bachelor of Education programme.
The National Education Policy 2020 also suggests stringent action against dysfunctional institutions. It suggests that after such institutions are given a year’s time for reform, rigorous action must be taken if they fail to meet the requirements. This will help in fulfilling the basic educational norms. The education policy further suggests that by year 2030, only educationally sound, multi-disciplinary and integrated teacher education programmes should be implemented. The decline in standards of teacher education started around 2000, when there was a demand and supply crisis in the country. The demand for school teachers across the country was on a all time high but the teacher educational institutions were less in number to meet need of the country. It was then that many state governments not paying much heed to the NCTE norms encouraged the private sector to intervene, so that demand of the country for trained teachers could be met adequately. This gave an opportunity to the private sector to expand and in a few years there were a lot of newly trained teachers but quality was badly compromised. In many states, the level of teachers dropped so badly that B.Ed. and ETT passed teachers could not qualify for even screening and other tests, mandatory for teacher recruitment. The Central and State Governments in the country then made CTET as compulsory test for the appointment of teachers. The need for trained teachers was also increasing ever since the Right to Education Act (2009) was enforced as only trained teachers were expected to deal efficiently with inclusive class-rooms. But by this time the country already had an army of low quality teachers as well as mushroom growth of sub-standard teacher education institutions. This way, the corrupt system gave new institutions but kept going downwards on the standards of quality. For this downfall in standards of teacher education, the functioning of the Council for Teacher Education as well as the universities are to be blamed. Only these regulatory agencies should be held accountable because they ignored the monitoring and regulations of teacher educational institutions by overlooking their shortcomings and such poor teacher training institutions continued to exist and grow further.
There are many suggestions in the National Education Policy 2020 which can revive the entire teacher education system by implementing the well thought of reforms as proposed in the document and will surely restore the dignity of teacher education. Besides, the National Council for Teacher Education and University Administration are mandated to form a monitoring inspection group so that sub-standard and non-conforming teacher education institutions could be closed. This inspection group will have the right to provide clear report based on inspection of all aspects and give strict instructions to close non-conforming institutions. As per the National Education Policy 2020, sub-standard and non-conforming teacher education institutions are expected to be closed by year 2030 as these money minting institutions had made teacher education a business and are least concerned about the quality. The Justice Verma Commission (2012) had rightly said that these institutes have become factories to sell degrees. The Commission, while enumerating the short-comings, highlighted certain defects /flaws. The defects found in these institutes were such as non-attending students, non-holding of faculty as per rules, non-conducting of teaching practice, cheating in examinations, robbing of students by many means such as compulsion for hostels, to buy uniforms, fines, etc. Hera- feri/ Bluff in Makin practical and internal files, bribing inspection teams (involving officials from NCTE to Deans and Inspections team members of the University etc.), getting other students to work under someone’s name, dummy principal, dummy teacher, dummy students, same faculty to be in records of many institutes, use age of false documents, agents across the country in the name of admission counselling. There is a huge market / network of the system and nexus with the agents.
(To be continued)