Thursday, 4 August 2011
Teacher Education: Vision of Kothari Commission and its Realisation
By Dr. Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui
Kothari Education Commission rightly believed that the great enterprise of national reconstruction will entirely depend on the quality and number of persons coming out of our schools and colleges. In turn, the quality of education and its contribution to national development will be influenced most significantly by the competence and character of teachers. The Commission found that the teacher education system in the country was too weak to produce such influential and competent teachers. This paper discusses the recommendation of the Commission meant for revamping and strengthening the teacher education arrangements and examines in detail as to what extent these recommendations could be implemented through different policy declarations and action programmes that were taken up during the last four decades. The suggestions made by the Commission, it has been argued in this paper, still hold valid and have yet to be fully implemented. However, in view of several other issues and challenges that are emerging due to socio economic and technological developments at national and international plains, attempts for improving and strengthening teacher education system have to be carried further ahead of the Commission’s recommendations in order to make the system fully relevant and effective in the present and future contexts of our society.
The common aspiration of Indian people after having achieved Independence was to see India progress in all spheres of life, for they rightly believed that their prosperity and security lied only in her economic, cultural and political development on the lines charted out in the Constitution of India. The national development for the tradition-bound Indian society depended on a pervasive social transformation of its people which could only be brought through the most powerful instrument of education. This exactly was the vision of Kothari Education Commission (KEC) which was appointed to prepare a blueprint of a national pattern of education. KEC firmly believed, and accordingly made all its recommendations, that it is the development of human resources, involving changes in the knowledge, skills, interests and values of the people as a whole, that will solve India’s long pending problems of poverty, self sufficiency in food, full employment, social and national integration, etc. on one hand, and will ensure national economic and social development and prosperity of the masses, on the other. The Commission stressed that this direct link between education, the sole instrument of human resource development, and national development exists only when the national system of education is properly organized, both qualitatively and quantitatively and it is reflected in the quality and number of persons coming out of our schools and colleges.
In an attempt to effectively relate education to the life, needs and aspirations of the people, and through it raise their productivity; modernize their outlook; and inculcate in them social, moral and spiritual values; and bring social national integration in the society, it recommended all round changes and improvements in the entire system of education and presented a new educational pattern of 10+2+3 as a common ground for implementing various educational reforms and principles.
While the Commission emphasized equality in access to education for all people without discrimination and provision of a relevant curriculum for their suitable educational development, it repeatedly stressed that of all the factors which influence the quality of education and its contribution to national development; the quality, competence and character of teachers is undoubtedly, the most significant. Hence, a sound programme of professional education of teachers was considered an essential condition for the qualitative improvement of education (p 124). It was argued by the KEC that ‘investment in teacher education can yield very rich dividends because the financial resources required are small when measured against the resulting improvements in the education of millions’.
Though this pivotal role of teachers in national development and the need for their professional preparation was repeatedly stressed by the University Education Commission (1948), the Secondary Education Commission (1952-53) and the International Team on Teachers and Curricula in Secondary Schools (1954) yet, arrangements to meet this need could not be made in any large measure. As a result, even after about two decades of Independence, the Education Commission found the teacher education system suffering from several major weaknesses as mentioned below.
· Isolation of primary and secondary teacher training institutions (i) from mainstream of the academic life of the university (ii) from daily problems of the schools, and (iii) from one another;
· Quality of training institutions remains, with few exceptions, either mediocre or poor.
· Competent staff/faculty are not attracted to teacher education.
· Vitality and realism are lacking in the curriculum and programme of work which continue to be largely traditional
· Set pattern and rigid techniques are followed in practice teaching with a disregard for present day needs and objectives.
In order to remove each of these weaknesses and strengthen the teacher education system in the country the Commission made several recommendations which will be discussed in the section that follows.
Commission’s Recommendations and their Implementation
Professional preparation of teachers for qualitative improvement of education, so that education brings development and change in Indian society, was the vision of the KEC, for which it had expressed its concern and suggested various initiatives to be taken at different levels. In this section, the focus is on examining as to what extent and in what manner these initiatives have been taken to bring improvement and change in teacher education.
1. Mainstreaming of Teacher Education
In order to make professional preparation of teachers effective, KEC considered it necessary to bring teacher education in the mainstream of academic life of universities as well as of school system and overall educational developments. Modalities followed in each of these domains of mainstreaming are discussed here.
(i) Removing isolation from university life:
Education, as distinguished from pedagogy, should be recognized as an independent academic discipline and introduced as an elective subject in courses for the first and second degrees and schools of education be established in selected universities to develop programmes in teacher education and studies and research in education in collaboration with other university disciplines. This only will help break the isolation of teacher education from universities. The Commission stated, ‘In India, the general trend has been to identify education with pedagogy. It has been taught mostly in training institutions and is studied only by those who decide to enter teaching profession, after such a decision has been made. In the educationally advanced countries, however, education has developed considerably as a social science and a separate academic discipline. The realization that education is an instrument of change--social, political and economic – is having far-reaching implications, not only for education as an intellectual discipline of great scientific and philosophic import, but for other disciplines as well. It is also worth noting that philosophers and social scientists have begun to give special attention to education as an important part in their fields of study. We, therefore, recommend that in view of the increasing scope and importance, ‘education’ should be recognized as a social science or an independent discipline.’ (p. 125)
The National Policy on Education-1968 that largely followed the KEC report sidelined this issue altogether. Later, the Teacher Education Curriculum – A Framework brought out by NCERT in 1978 discussed this issue and re-emphasized that education should be offered as a subject of study for both horizontal and vertical mobility (p.7). It was envisaged that if education is allowed to be pursued as an academic discipline like other disciplines right after standard X upto postgraduate level alongwith other disciplines under one roof, and also as task-oriented training programme for becoming teacher at a particular level, there is a strong possibility that education will grow as an important discipline. It was also envisaged in the Framework that teacher training institutions would prepare various task-oriented courses and the university departments of education would develop variety of education courses to be pursued as a discipline.(p.9)
In order to further the KEC’s resolve in this regard, the NPE-1986 proposed that colleges of education and university departments of education will be networked and that university departments of education will be strengthened (p.26). But neither the NPE and POA-1986 nor POA-1992 talked about breaking the isolation of teacher education institutions from universities. Both these documents skipped the issue of development of education as a discipline or as a social science. As a result, Ramamurthy Committee (1990) pointed out that teacher education programmes continue to exist in isolation of the academic life of the universities (p.300), though it also did not clearly suggest as to how this isolation could be removed.
On the ground, it has been observed that in some States, colleges at undergraduate level now offer education as an optional subject and some university departments of education are now offering MA in Education. Many departments and centers of education in universities are also facilitating research in education. Still there is no such dedicated department of education in any university which is entirely devoted to conducting research in foundation subjects of education in the Indian context. However, centers like, CASE at MSU,Baroda, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies at JNU, New Delhi, are serving this cause to some extent. Education as a discipline, like other social sciences, is yet to gain general recognition. As long as this situation persists teacher education will remain isolated from main stream of academic life of the universities.
Recently, it has been proposed to the Govt. of India that a full fledged university of education should be established in the XI Plan period for a focused all round development of this discipline. Acceptance of this proposition will only be a small step forward in recognizing the status of education as a discipline and will help in further promoting its cause. However, this proposition even though accepted and implemented is not going to change the state of general isolation of teacher education institutions from university life across the country unless universities in general admit education as a social science or as an independent discipline in its academic life.
(ii) Breaking isolation from School life
For bringing teacher education institutions closer to the school life, realities and problems obtained in these schools so that teacher preparation may be carried out on more realistic grounds, it was suggested by KEC that extension work should be made an integral part of teacher education programme. Alumni associations of teacher training institutions should be formed to bring together faculty members and their old students, now school teachers, to discuss and plan curricula and other programmes. Also, periodic exchange of staff between cooperating schools and teacher education institutions should take place and due recognition to be given to cooperating schools by State Departments of Education for this act of cooperation.
In sixties, NCERT was able to organize extension services centres in about 50 per cent secondary teacher training institutions (KECR). In 1969 there were 150 extension services centers which were meant for extending help to neighbouring schools and teachers in their academic pursuits (Siddiqui, 1991). Having recognized their significance for breaking isolation between schools and training institutions such extension education units were created in SCERTs and DIETs also. These units in many States now are not actively engaged in extension activities in surrounding schools. The concept of alumni association of pass outs of a teacher training institution has not got off the ground. The cooperating schools are neither recognized like that by the State Department of Education nor these schools regularly interact with teacher education institutions in their area. The only limited occasions when the schools and institutions of teacher training come into contact and interact with each other are periods of practice teaching in schools and organization of inservice training programmes for school teachers in teacher training institutions. Even on these occasions, the interaction remains highly formal and rigid. The idea of exchange of teachers between cooperating schools and concerned colleges of education for a specified period has not received recognition in the Indian situation as yet.
Interestingly, as was recommended by KEC, the POA-1986 had specifically provided that a cadre of teacher educators will be created, an interchange will be organized between teaching and teacher education and sufficient number of supernumerary/reserve positions will be created in schools to enable people from this cadre to go as teachers for 1-2 years every 4-5 years (p.190). But nothing concrete has been done to implement these provisions so far. Hence, as observed by Ramamurthy Committee also, much of isolation between teacher education and school life continues to persist (p.300).
A campaign for formation of alumni associations of pass outs of teacher training institutions with active involvement of the faculty may bear some fruit in this direction. For establishment and role of extension units in all teacher training institutions and for exchange of their faculty and school teachers, some specific provision may have to be made in the NCTE norms for compliance by all teacher training institutions.
(iii) Breaking isolation from one another
It was observed in KEC report that teacher education institutions offering teacher training programmes for different levels of teachers often remain isolated and hence do not benefit from each others resources and experiences. The NPE, POA-1986 and the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Teacher Education (1987) have tried to remove this isolation to some extent. After the implementation of the Scheme 38 colleges of teacher education/departments of education in universities got upgraded to the status of IASEs in 1988 onwards which are required to perform the function of comprehensive colleges of education and provide for preservice/inservice teacher education for primary and secondary teachers and even for nursery teachers and teacher educators. But this has happened on a limited scale and only a few teacher education institutions have been able to break this isolation existing among them. Most of the more than 3000 teacher training institutions still remain isolated from one another. A better and effective cooperation between IASEs and SCERTs, which directly coordinate the activities of DIETs, can further help in breaking this isolation. IASEs acting as comprehensive colleges, as visualized by KEC, should become nodal research and resource centers and common meeting places for faculty of DIETs and CTEs on continuing basis provided that these IASEs are evenly opened across the country in a planned manner. In the past, as many as nine IASEs were established by MHRD in a single State. Out of them three existed in one small district of that State. Besides, effective networking and extensive cooperation beyond inservice education should take place between IASEs and rest of the teacher training institutions in a given area. At present this cooperation is confined to organization of some inservice training programmes by IASEs for the faculty of DIETs and SCERTs.
The idea of State Boards of Teacher Education as visualized by KEC which were supposed to be responsible for all functions related to teacher education at all levels and in all fields in each State has not seen the light of the day till now. The alternative structure of SCERTs has been created in States but it is responsible for teacher education upto upper primary level though it also acts as a coordinating agency for inservice education of teachers for all levels of school education.
The Commission had also suggested that for removing existing separation among teacher education institutions all these institutions should be upgraded to the collegiate standard in a phased manner and ultimately all of them should be brought under the supervision of universities (p.129). Secondary teacher education institutions are already working under the control of universities. However, teacher education institutions for elementary and nursery education are still outside the ambit of university supervision. Upgrading the DIETs to collegiate level will surely improve the faculty status, their motivation, quality of teaching and examination standards. In XI Plan this part of the Kothari Commission’s recommendation may be taken into consideration.
The Commission had repeatedly visualized an important and active role of national organizations of teachers and teacher educators in improving the quality of teacher education. Although more than one such organizations exist at the national level they are hardly found systematically cooperating and collaborating in achieving the goal of improvement of quality of teacher education.
2. Improving Quality of Teacher Education
The KEC, while commenting on the quality of teacher education, had observed that, ‘essence of a programme of teacher education is ‘quality’ and in its absence teacher education becomes not only a financial waste but a source of overall deterioration in educational standards’ (p.160). It further remarked that vitality and realism are lacking in the curricula and programmes of work continue to be largely traditional (p. 124). Even in a limited area like methods of teaching, the teacher educator fails to impress upon the trainees about the usefulness and applicability of these methods, as he himself rarely uses any method other than the talk and chalk method. Set patterns of lesson planning and rigid techniques of teaching are followed in practice teaching regardless of the nature of subject matter and the objectives to be achieved in terms of behavioural changes. Evaluation procedures, specially those followed for assessing the competence of would-be teachers are, by and large, subjective and unscientific seeking to find out mainly, how successfully factual knowledge has been memorized’. The Commission made several suggestions to improve the quality of teacher education which encompassed improvements in content courses, professional studies, methods of teaching and evaluation to be used, student-teaching, special courses and curricula for all levels of teacher education.
However, these suggestions failed to attract the attention of NPE-1968 and its declaration hardly spelled out any steps to be taken for improvement in teacher education and its curriculum. The draft Education Policy Document of 1979 only mentioned ‘that the curriculum of teacher education at the elementary and secondary stages will suitably be changed in order to enable the teachers to play their proper role in reforming education’ (Naik, 1982, p. 225) but this Draft Policy could never reach the stage of implementation. It was the NCTE’s document, Teacher Education Curriculum – A Famework (1978), which for the first time highlighted the teacher education related observations of KEC and spelled out detailed guidelines for curriculum change.
These observations were translated into a workable scheme of courses by the Framework (1978) which suggested two broad models of curriculum, one for preprimary to secondary stage and the other for senior secondary and higher education which had three common components of (i) Pedagogical Theory (ii) Working with Community and (iii) Content-cum-methodology of Teaching School Subjects and Practice Teaching. The weightage for these components in first three stages of education i.e. preprimary, primary and secondary would be 20 per cent, 20 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively and for higher secondary and higher education it was proposed to be 30 per cent, 20 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively. Many teacher education institutions followed this Framework and adopted its scheme during the course of revision of their teacher education curricula.
A closer look at KEC recommendations regarding teacher education curriculum vis-à-vis the provisions made in education policies and Teacher Education Curriculum Frameworks that followed these recommendations till recently, reveals the following:
(i) Reorientation of subject knowledge
With a view to reorient subject knowledge of student teachers in the respective subjects that they have already studied earlier, content-cum-methodology courses with emphasis on taking up remedial and enrichment teaching in important and new concepts in related school subjects were incorporated in the curriculum of elementary and secondary teacher education. However, it is not sure due to lack of research based knowledge as to what extent this exercise was really taken up effectively in the teacher training institutions, particularly, at the level of transaction of curriculum based on this new content-cum-methodology approach. It very much depends on the competence of the subject teacher-educator/method master and his own understanding of this approach.
However, for this reorientation of subject knowledge, rarely any collaboration is found to have been made between teacher education institutions and university departments or liberal arts and science colleges in the concerned subjects either in the form of involving their faculty or using their laboratory and library facilities. Thus, the isolation between these two sets of institutions continues to exist. Nevertheless, due to steady emphasis on inservice education of school teachers, refresher programmes in subject areas are being organized by DIETs, CTEs, and IASEs in which subject experts from university departments and arts and science colleges are taking up teaching on remedial and enrichment content based on the relevant school curriculum. Thus, it has been observed that, at least in inservice teacher education, the teacher training institutions and university departments and colleges have come closer and teachers have started drawing benefit from this collaboration to whatever extent it is available. However, in preservice teacher education, this does not seem to be true.
(ii) Integrated versus professional courses
As for arranging 4 or 5 years integrated courses of general and professional education, as has been experimented in RIEs and a couple of other institutions at the secondary teacher education stage, the Commission in itself was skeptical and had felt that it would be too heavy a proposition and in return very limited number of teachers (5 to 10 per cent of the requirement) will be trained through this model (p.133). It had rather suggested that we should better concentrate on improving the professional one year course for secondary teachers following the first or second degree. If at all such integrated courses are to be organized then it should be done in the schools/departments of education in universities in collaboration with other departments. However, the Commission did appreciate the utility of such experiments of integration in an elastic and varied system. This kind of experiment in integrated course in teacher preparation has been tried for the last few years now in eight colleges of arts and science affiliated to Delhi University for preparing elementary school teachers wherein subject courses alongwith professional course are taught under one roof in close collaboration with the faculty members of different relevant departments. The course called Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed.) is a four year programme after +2. NCTE has already notified norms for recognition of this course. However, impact of this innovative programme is yet to be ascertained by an empirical research.
(iii) Revitalisation of professional studies
The low status of professional studies in teacher training institutions, which is due to absence of adequate research on problems related to teacher’s work in school in Indian context and also due to teacher educators failure to deal with these studies with direct reference to the specific classroom situations to be faced by the trainee teachers, leaves much to be desired for developing the personality and professional competence of the prospective teachers. Low status is also due to non availability of textbooks and other materials on professional studies which are written keeping the Indian conditions in view in both English and other regional languages. This required establishment of some such dedicated educational research centers or departments of educational research in universities which would entirely be devoted to pursue research in professional studies and in areas of foundations of education in Indian context and would, in the light of their researches, would guide the teacher education programmes, teacher educators and writers of textbooks in professional studies. Barring a very few departments/centers of education in universities, all the teacher education institutions still remain completely engaged in teacher training activities only, for neither they have resources nor time to attend to research activities in any area. In 1980, Jamia Millia Islamia had tried to initiate this kind of research by creating a dedicated department called Department of Foundations of Education which was envisioned to pioneer research in areas of foundations of education in Indian context. However, the innovative initiative could never take-off the ground due to the distorted research priorities of the department.
(iv) Improved methods of teaching and evaluation
The Commission had emphasized use of such methods of teaching by teacher educators which encourage participation and self study, which give opportunities to trainee-teachers to think, read, study and discuss, and in which students have to engage themselves actively in library work, project work, preparation of reviews and reports, etc. Teacher educators were also expected to resort to frequent use of emerging new technologies (pp.134-135). KEC also recommended reform in examination system in training institutions and implementation of the process of continuous and comprehensive evaluation which has an inbuilt component of internal assessment which receives a significant place in the final assessment. Cumulative record of students was also suggested to be maintained with their consultation for their training in keeping such records.
These recommendations of KEC were reflected in Curriculum Framework (1978) when it emphasized that training aspect of teacher education for its proper task orientation is essential, as this will enable the teacher to handle variety of tasks inside and outside the classroom. Endorsing the views of KEC on evaluation it argued that reliable and valid internal system of evaluation should be developed in which focus should change from ‘assessing’ to ‘guiding’ the trainee-teacher. For this a sort of clinical approach with a warm and personal touch was suggested to be introduced in place of the so-called impersonal and objective normative approach of assessing personality and that internal and external assessment must be shown separately and not added together to a single aggregate (pp. 15-16).
The NPE and POA-1986 and revised POA-1992 also dwelled upon this important aspect of teacher education and emphasized introduction of continuous and comprehensive evaluation compulsorily. However, the Education Policy Review Committee (1990) restressed the KEC recommendations and the education policy provisions by stating that teacher training programme should cover concepts and methods relating to child centred approach, multigrade teaching, continuous and comprehensive evaluation, adopting playway and activity based approach in primary education, etc. (pp.302-303) which were endorsed in the report of the CABE Committee on Policy (1992) (p.64).
Emphasis on varied and new methods of teaching and process oriented rather than only product oriented evaluation of the trainee-teacher which primarily focuses on helping and guiding him continuously to develop him into a sensitive, innovative, and competent teacher is a major improvement in the area of teaching methodology in teacher education institutions.
However, as evident from the Curriculum Framework for Quality Teacher Education (1998), NCTE was not much satisfied with these recommendations of the KEC and other committees and the consequent changes brought in teaching and training methods in teacher education. It observed that ‘the changes at the level of teacher education have not adequately responded to the emerging realities at the school level particularly, after the introduction of 10+2+3 pattern and other developments which out of necessity demand training of teachers in new pedagogy and innovative evaluation techniques. Instead of using a uniform methodology of teaching and learning, the Framework suggested that stage specific and culture specific pedagogical practices, transactional strategies and evaluation methods should be taught to the trainee teachers (pp.14-17). The document observed that it is still not being taken care in most of the teacher education institutions. It emphasized that for effective curricular transaction interactive teaching, cooperative teaching learning, self discovery approaches, etc should be used and in the training process emphasis should be on development of competencies and skills which would be helpful in shaping of the teacher for an effective role play (p54).
(v) Turning practice teaching into an effective programme of internship
Student-teaching is the core of any teacher training programme and, therefore, it must enable the trainee teacher to see for himself the principles and processes of teaching, learning, evaluation, etc. as learnt by him theoretically, in their full practical form and through this real experience must enable him to develop all desired competencies in teaching to be used in varied conditions in his professional life.
KEC was of the opinion that student-teaching should be provided in two phases for its better impact on trainee-teacher. The objective of the first phase should be to acquaint him with the entire school life through detailed observations and initiate him into actual teaching in which he may also begin his practice teaching by teaching individual children and then to a small group of students. The second phase should enable him to do continuous teaching for at least eight weeks under actual school conditions, by working as a teacher in a selected school (p.136). Though KEC did not use the term internship for the second stage of student-teaching, the very fact that in this phase it wanted the trainee to teach like a teacher continuously for eight weeks suggests that it meant internship in the second phase of practice teaching.
Task-oriented teacher education system where teacher is to be readied for effective performance of his role, where practice teaching is essentially made more realistic and suited to actual classroom situation by using series of simulating and microteaching situations before sending out the trainee teachers for practice teaching, was recommended in TECF (1978) (p.39). The Framework (1978) did not specifically provide for internship as it was felt that internship programme has not really gone beyond practice teaching concept. However, the Framework (1978), on the lines of KEC, emphasized pre-practice teaching activities which will include systematic simulated teaching and observation of lessons to be delivered by teacher educators and good teachers; actual practice teaching through block-teaching approach rather than delivering one lesson everyday; and post practice teaching follow-up by taking up related practical work in evaluation, etc. Since work experience and health education and recreational activities have been included in curriculum, practice teaching duration has to be substantially increased and at least 20 lessons were recommended at appropriate interval (p.40).
Chatopadhyay Commission (1983-85) also felt that internship would not only help develop teaching skills in related subjects, it would also prepare teacher for many other roles he is expected to play outside the classroom. This requires not only a sound programme of pre-internship simulated teaching but also a cooperation between cooperating school, its principal and the cooperating teacher under whose supervision this trainee-teacher will complete his internship. This aspect remains quite weak so far. In the name of internship only block practice teaching is organized which is generally confined to classroom teaching experience. The Commission (1983-85) rightly observed that this recommendation of KEC given about twenty years ago has remained unattended so far (p.52). It suggested internship in B.Ed. for at least six weeks to be preceded by a general orientation of one week (p.53). Ramamurthy Committee (1990) too was all for internship model of student teaching and had forwarded several detailed arguments as well as suggestions for its implementation against the conventional practice teaching. This model of internship was recommended for all categories of school teachers (p.308). However, CABE Committee on Policy (1992) was of the view that ‘at the moment there are no well documented experiences on the internship model and practical aspects for its adoption on a large scale and its comparative advantages need to be examined further. It suggested that an expert body of NCTE should study the model in depth and guide teacher education institutions. ( p. 66)
However, the CFQTE (1998) found that changes in the pattern and practices of student-teaching have been only peripheral and the content-cum-methodology approach, wherever attempted, remained limited to the introduction of an additional component of content without fully achieving the objective of integration. The problem solving approach, discovery method, competency based teaching learning and application of educational technology, informatics, telematics, cybernatics, etc. have yet to make a discernible headway. It suggested provision of induction programme for proper exposure to school experiences, followed by school based practice teaching for capacity building which should include practical work other than classroom instructions, like community experiences and activities related to personality and leadership development (pp. 54-55).
Internship though suggested by KEC and other committees and commissions, has remained a weak and elusive step in teacher training programmes particularly when we talk about its quality and duration. NCF (2005) has reiterated the need for use of internship model in all preservice teacher training programmes in order to sustain teacher engagement with children in school situations and experiences of teaching children alongside regular teachers. This, it has rightly argued, will help teachers choose, design, organize and conduct meaningful classroom activities, critically reflect upon their own practices and develop strategies for evaluating children’s learning for feedback into curriculum and pedagogy (p.98).
(vi) Development of special courses
The KEC recommended development of new courses in order to meet special needs e.g. training programme for headmasters and principals, special course for teacher educators of primary and secondary training institutions, courses for training teachers for two consecutive stages or in such a way that with some further orientation or training, they could also teach at a higher level. Such courses have not generally been planned. Only some effort has been made to train teacher educators for elementary training institutions in RIEs and Jamia Millia Islamia. Otherwise most of the teacher educators at all levels starting from preprimary through senior secondary are being trained through a general M.Ed. programme. The need for special training for headmasters has also been felt on a peripheral scale. Jamia has only recently launched a diploma course in school management and a course on educational administration is already being offered for quite sometime. However, besides these special courses for meeting the special needs of teachers and teacher educators, there are many other emerging areas which perhaps were not found so urgent or distinct at the time when the Kothari Commission had surveyed the educational situation and need in the country but now they also need to be addressed to on a large scale. For example, courses for teaching handicapped children, with different forms of physical and mental challenges, a course for their teacher educators, a course in ICT application and integration in education, a course for educational supervision and guidance, a course on management information system in education, a course for vocational education teachers and teacher educators, a training course for alternative and innovative education centers, etc. Endorsing this emerging need for special teacher education courses CFQTE (1998) rightly observed that global upsurge for universal education, explosion of knowledge, and expectation and aspirations for better quality of life have led to the exploration of alternatives to the formal system which includes non-formal education, adult education, distance education, etc. As democracy also envisages equality not only in terms of access but also in achievement and the life chances, this calls for individual attention to child in the classroom, for which teacher needs to be trained through alternative models of teacher preparation and also to be sensitized to the needs of children with special circumstances and difficulties (p.92). Developing new teacher education courses should be a continuing exercise which should be contingent upon the emerging needs of the society.
(vii) Revision and improvement of curriculum
In view of the developments taking place in the society at national and international plains and in school education, as also in the light of the fundamental objectives of preparing teachers for their varied responsibilities, it was felt necessary by KEC that curricula and programmes at all levels of teacher education must be revised. The TECF (1978) made first detailed attempt to implement this resolve of the Commission and came out with improved models of teacher education curricula for teachers of preschool stage, primary stage, secondary stage and higher secondary and collegiate stages. The proposed curriculum framework had substantially departed from the earlier traditional teacher education curriculum in two ways. One, that it had separately visualized curriculum structure for different stages of education and two, it had followed a semester approach in these curricula. The course structure was also changed in its orientation and approach. It assigned 20 per cent weightage to pedagogical theory, 20 per cent weightage to working with community and 60 per cent weightage to content-cum-methodology area which included practice teaching and related practical work. Working with community, it was envisaged in TECF, will provide actual life experiences to the trainee teacher which will reinforce his theoretical learnings. (p.28) Similarly, it was felt that methods are meaningful when taught in relation to content. To achieve this end it was suggested that teaching skills may be developed in two groups viz. core skills which are indispensable for all types of teachers and specific skills necessary for teaching different subjects at different levels.
Contrary to KEC’s recommendation for non integrated teacher training programmes, the National Commission on Teachers (1983-85) was in favour of 5 year integrated model of teacher training after +2 which should focus on both, general education and professional education. However, it also suggested that until this model is implemented attempts should be made to strengthen the existing one year B.Ed. and 2 year Diploma in elementary teacher education courses by revamping the current curricula and extending the working days to at least 220 in an academic year. The Commission (1983-85) also felt that methods of teaching or content-cum-methodology component in teacher training courses remains the weakest link in chain and that, insufficient time and attention is being paid to practice teaching in schools. Training technologies in the training colleges have to be improved radically by using educational technology in training trainee-teachers and by training them in its use in schools. Though it commended the attempt made by the NCTE to strike a balance between educational theory and practice through its TECF (1978) yet it felt that in the light of experiences of teacher education institutions and the new demands on the teacher, this framework also needs revision. Hence, in 1998, the NCTE revised its earlier Curriculum Framework (1978) for teacher education. The revised framework was presented for all stages of education which had three major components of theory, practice teaching and practical work. In practice teaching at primary and higher levels the concept of pedagogical analysis of relevant school subjects was the new focus, besides practice teaching and observation of model lessons. Similarly, in practical work, aspects like, school experience inclusive of internship, work education, school community interaction, action research studies and organization of relevant educational activities, etc. were included. The teacher education curricula were revised in the light of this Framework but it was felt that at the transactional level teacher educators could not carry out pedagogical analysis of content and so they continued to follow the old approach of planning for teaching. In curriculum of secondary teacher education some optional courses concerning current issues and concerns like, vocational education, environmental education, computer education, etc. were incorporated.
The Yashpal Committee Report (1993) entitled, ‘Learning Without Burden’, has noted that the emphasis in teacher education programmes should be on enabling trainees to acquire the ability for self learning and independent thinking. Despite all these concerns and recommendations, rightly observed NCF (2005), ‘in reality teacher education programmes today train teachers to adjust to the needs of a system in which education is seen as the transmission of information. Attempts at curricular reform (at school level) have not been adequately supported with efforts at teacher education. --- Existing programmes do not address curricular design and issues of relations between school and society. There is little engagement with the numerous recent innovative educational experiments (p.95) Hence, there is a need to come up with a fresh scheme of teacher education programmes which can help in transacting the new school curricula in right perspective and enable teachers in responding to the children’s needs and bring desired changes in them. This, however, would not be accomplished, as was cautioned by the Kothari Commission, by any initial teacher training, however complete it is. It observed that the more dynamic a vocation is the less chances there are of giving a complete initial training. So, what is important in a teacher training programme is, as stressed by Yashpal Committee (1993) also, to develop in the student insight and understanding, the capacity to learn and resourcefulness (pp.138-139). This in other words, was also stressed by International Commission on Education (1996) when it observed that ‘initial education can be regarded as powerful if it has provided the impetus and foundation that will make it possible to continue to learn throughout life’ (p.88).
(viii) Post graduate course in education
The KEC was also concerned about postgraduate courses in education for earning Master’s degree in education which are neither closely linked with professional needs at a higher level nor they have the depth and intensity necessary for the study of education as a discipline (p.139). Duration of M.Ed. Course and its curriculum both, need a review. KEC recommended that its duration should be extended to three academic terms in order to allow students to undertake a deeper, scientific and academic study in some specific field requiring special knowledge and initiative and should consist of core courses in foundation of education, courses in areas of specialization, study of methodology of research and a dissertation. These post graduate courses have been reviewed and improved but the duration of these courses has remained unchanged. For M.Ed. it continues to be one year and for M.A. in Education it is 2 years. Short duration of post graduate course in education deprives students of many learning activities and opportunities of professional development.
3. Duration of Courses:
Kothari Commission was of the view that elementary teacher education programme should be of 2 years duration and secondary teacher training of one year. But in an academic year, in its view, there should be at least 230 working days in the one year B.Ed. programme. For M.Ed., as stated earlier, it recommended 3 years’ period instead of existing one year.
The Curriculum Framework (1978) and National Policy on Education and POA-1986 & 1992 have preferred the existing arrangement of two years’ training after senior secondary school for elementary teachers and one year’s training after graduation or post graduation for secondary school teachers. Extension in working days in an academic year from 180 days to 230 days for making better use of one year duration was recommended by the Commission. However, for financial and practical reasons the Commission did not agree to the proposition of two years B.Ed. programme (p.132).
The idea of extension in working days in the academic year to 230 days which was modified to 220 days in the recommendations of the National Commission on Teachers-I (1983-85) (p.49), could not gain favour from teacher training institutions as well as from the NCTE. The NCTE’s norm for working days requires at least 180 teaching days which includes 30 days internship. Teacher education institutions have to adhere to these norms.
Though KEC was not in favour of a two year B.Ed. programme, NCTE in its document, Curriculum Framework for Quality Teacher Education (1998), has proposed such a programme and has come out with guidelines for the same (p.77). This two year B.Ed. model is under experiment in four RIEs and Gujarat Vidyapeeth for the last few years. Quality of output of this model and its effectiveness is yet to be ascertained. It is aruged that many features of the two years B.Ed. can be condensed in the existing one year programme with some extension in working days, as was recommended by KEC. This has successfully been tried in Jamia Millia Islamia and Kurukshetra University.
The Teacher Education Curriculum Framework (1978) had recommended replacement of existing annual system by semester system where each semester should be at least of full 120 working days in order to implement the task-oriented teacher training programme suggested by it (p.10). The idea of semester system in first degree course in education is yet to catch up in teacher training institutions for its own practical reasons. Many universities have switched over from semisterisation to the annual system.
The question of extension in duration of elementary or secondary teacher education programme to four/five or two years, has financial, educational and administrative implications. Four year integrated courses where general education and professional education is integrated can effectively be offered in general colleges and departments of education in universities rather than in colleges of education. This may also help in removing isolation between department of education or college of education and university’s mainstream departments. But two years’ B.Ed. as suggested by NCTE as a way out between one year and four year models may be organized in colleges of teacher education. It will require enhancement in faculty strength and infrastructural facilities in colleges of teacher education and IASEs. For want of extra resources and investment there appears to be a general lack of enthusiasm for two years B.Ed. though in principle it is appreciated as it is expected to provide more space to trainee teachers to acquire competence in teaching.
4. Management of Teacher Education through State Boards
This was suggested by KEC that State Boards of Teacher Education will be set up in each State which will conduct surveys of teacher education programmes and curricula and initiate necessary action for maintaining standards of teacher education in the States. These Boards have neither been set up nor any later committees or commissions have ever cared to discuss their need or formation. Instead, SCERTs as State level structures have been created. These Councils have often remained confined to elementary teacher education though sometimes they also work for inservice education of secondary school teachers. After the establishment of the national statutory regulatory body of NCTE, there does not seem to be any need and relevance of State level Boards of Teacher Education. In fact, when Kothari Commission recommended that all teacher training institutions should be given collegiate status and they all should ultimately be brought under the supervision and control of universities it in itself de-emphasized the need for creation of State Boards of Teacher Education.
5. Post graduate Courses and Research in Education
It was observed by KEC that existing post graduate courses in education are not closely linked with professional needs at a higher level nor do they have the depth and intensity necessary for the study of education as an academic discipline. They appear to have grown out of the B.Ed. courses without any clear idea of their purpose (p.139). In view of the increasing demand for qualified teacher educators for rising number of elementary, secondary and other teacher education institutions it is urgently required that curricula of post graduate teacher education courses are revamped keeping in view the stage specific needs of teacher trainees, the changes that are being introduced in school curriculum and teacher preparation programmes and also the new challenges that are being faced by school education.
The existing M.Ed. programmes, rightly pointed out by UGC’s Review Committee on Education, lack effectiveness and thoughtful direction and that they are mostly ornamental except for services in a training college (p.139). These courses are characterized by lack of perspective in terms of contents as well as qualifications and are generally academic in nature and not adequately professional in content. (NCTE, 1998). For want of these needs the Revised POA-1992 resolved that existing programmes of teacher educators will be suitably modified. For improving M.Ed. course, the Chatopadhyay Commission (1983-85), called for treating it as an extension of the period of professional preparation which should contain in it a high degree of specialization and be geared to the preparation of teacher educators, curriculum consultants, inspectors, supervisors and educational administrators (p.57). Similarly, NCTE in its Curriculum Framework for Quality Teacher Education (1998) also suggested organization of separate M.Ed. programmes for different categories/areas to cater to the need of stage specific and category specific preparation of teacher educators e.g. M.Ed. (PrePrimary), M.Ed. (Elementary) M.Ed. (Secondary and Senior Secondary), M.Ed. (Special), M.Ed. (Distance), etc. To further enhance the quality of teacher educators, the NPE & POA-1986 decided to create a separate cadre of teacher educators for appointment as staff in SCERTs, CTEs and DIETs (p.190).
KEC also discussed in detail the quality of research in education and felt that the development of educational research will go a long way in preparing persons competent to work at the post graduate level. However, it also accepted that every postgraduate lecturer need not be a research worker. Already lot of research studies in education have been accomplished. There is a need to focus them on needs and problems of schools, teachers and students.
6. Quality of Training Institutions
In order to strengthen teacher training institutions of different levels, the KEC made stage specific recommendations. Many of these recommendations have since been incorporated in succeeding educational policy documents. The recommendations covered, faculty and physical resources and students entering in these institutions.
(i) Secondary teacher training institutions:
Teacher educators at this level are inadequately prepared. They should possess a double Master’s degree in academic subject and education and a fair proportion (say 10 per cent) should also hold doctorate degrees. But in psychology, sociology, science or mathematics specialists without a professional training may be appointed. The Commission recommended substantial increase in output of Ph.Ds, M.Eds. and MAs in Education. To improve the performance of working teacher educators organization of summer institutes for them was recommended. (p.141) So far as quality of students joining these institutions is concerned it leaves much to be desired. Secondary training institutions do not attract students holding good degrees and they come with deficiencies in subject knowledge which becomes a serious hurdle to progress when it is proposed to upgrade the curricula of secondary schools substantially. It was recommended that by offering scholarships in teacher training institutes and good salaries in schools better qualified students should be attracted. Similarly, it was observed that facilities available in these institutions including libraries, laboratories, audiovisual aids and workshops and craft rooms are far from satisfactory and the same should be improved through intensive efforts. Provision of hostel facility at least for half of the students was particularly recommended by the Commission.
(ii) Institutes for primary teachers
The KEC found the condition of primary teacher training institutes very depressing and their standards more unsatisfactory than secondary training institutes and hence, a supreme effort was suggested to be made to improve their condition. It was observed that their staff is generally taken from secondary schools who are trained for secondary stage. The Commission recommended that the staff of these institutes should possess a Master’s degree either in education or in an academic subject and should be adequately trained for their work either through special orientation or induction training. Except in case of primary training institutions located in big cities, the condition of facilities in these institutions was found to be generally poor.
(iii) Tuition fee
KEC was of the view that tuition fees in all teachers training institutes should be abolished.
(iv) Demonstration school
All training institutes should have a demonstration school or experimental school which will be used for purposes of demonstration or special studies.
(v) Intake capacity
Training facilities should be drastically enhanced to meet the demand for trained teachers. The KEC recommended that the size of an existing primary teacher training institute should be raised to a minimum of 240 and that of a secondary teachers training institution to 200 to optimally utilize the facilities of these institutes. For new teacher training institutes the minimum size should not be less than 400 students. In planning the location of a teacher training institution several factors should be considered and a certain proportion, especially those at the primary stage, should be located in rural areas.
From the facts presented earlier, this may be clear that teacher education institutions at elementary and secondary levels did not receive any attention in the NPE-1968 that followed the KECR. The CFTE (1978) also dealt with only curricular reforms in teacher education without referring to the improvements needed in the physical and human resource conditions of these institutions. As a result, ‘a large number of the 1200 elementary teacher training institutions and 360 secondary teacher training institutions were found suffering from inadequate facilities - human, physical and academic, to provide good professional education’ (POA-1986). To ensure that condition of these institutions necessarily improves, NPE-1986 envisaged a special Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Teacher Education which was eventually launched in 1987 with arrangements of substantial funding for strengthening and establishment of elementary and secondary teacher education institutions viz. DIETs in every district of the country and 250 CTEs and 50 IASEs in selected secondary teacher education institutions. As of date around 500 DIETs, 87 CTEs and 38 IASEs have been provided Central assistance for arranging sufficient facilities and faculty in these institutions.
NCTE on its part ensured that teacher educators in secondary and elementary teacher training institutions possess minimum desired qualifications by making it mandatory that a secondary teacher educator must possess a double master’s degree in school subject and professional education and, as required by UGC, a Ph.D. degree or NET in education, as was recommended by KEC also. For elementary teacher educator also, the essential qualifications include a master’s degree in education or in school subject with graduate degree in education with five years school teaching experience. The KEC’s recommendation that master degree holders in sociology, psychology, science or mathematics without any professional training may be appointed as secondary teacher educators could not be accepted as trained educators in these subjects are now available. KEC’s recommendation for substantial increase in output in M.Ed. and M.A. and Ph.D. in Education is being implemented at a slow pace though the demand for these courses is steadily increasing due to continued establishment of new institutions of teacher education on a large scale. However, the faculty being appointed in elementary teacher education institutions still does not receive professional training in elementary education rather, most of them are trained for secondary education. There is a serious dearth of elementary teacher education courses at both first and second degree levels in education.
Commission’s recommendation for improvement in physical facilities are now a part of NCTE’s norms for infrastructure, etc. for a teacher education institution and these have to be essentially adhered to by all the teacher training institutions. However, the recommendations on compulsory provision of hostel facility in training institutions and provision of demonstration or experimental school attached with each of these institutions, though quite important, have not been generally implemented due to financial and administrative reasons. Since the submission of KECR, salaries and service conditions of teachers have received substantial boost on the recommendations of NPE-1968 and Chatopadhayay Commission (1983-85) and it has, to an extent, helped in attracting somewhat better students as educators to teacher training institutions, though for other reasons, still the best amongst them are not coming to training institutions.
The KEC’s recommendation of size of existing secondary or elementary teacher education institution of 200 and 240 students, respectively for optimum utilization of its facilities has not fully been implemented. Most of the training institutions existing or new have an intake of 100 students only. The recommendation of fixing a minimum intake of 400 students in new teacher training institutions also has not been implemented. The NCTE’s norms for intake of students have restricted it to units of 50 and 100 students for elementary and secondary training institutions, respectively in the beginning which can later be enhanced to two or more units subject to satisfaction of norms for expansion. The Commission’s recommendation for opening an institute for at least 230 working days in an academic year has been found unfeasible by NCTE and it has restricted it to 180 teaching days which includes 30 days of internship inclusive of preparation for the same (pp.100 & 119). The Commission’s view that expansion in training facility in each State should be based on a properly developed expansion strategy and on an institutional location plan has hardly received any attention except that in case of elementary teacher training institutions one State run DIET is now essentially located in each district. In the absence of any development plan for teacher education institution in each State, unbalanced expansion of these institutions, especially at the hands of private investors, is taking place on a large scale. It is true that still there is a huge unfulfilled demand for trained teachers. This should be met by establishing institutions on the basis of a perspective plan and institutional mapping exercise so that the expansion is more evenly distributed and becomes beneficial for trainee teachers and schools as was argued by KEC.
7. Inservice Education of School Teachers
Continuing inservice education and training of working school teachers as well as faculty members of training institutions is a need of paramount significance for improving the quality of school education especially when the pace of expansion in knowledge and changes in equipment of work are appearing at an unprecedentally fast pace. KEC visualized this need four decades ago which has only become much more relevant and demanding by now. For inservice education system to be effective, attention on three major dimensions was emphasized by KEC (i) systematic follow up after every long term inservice education programme to gauge its impact on the ground, (ii) close coordination between school authorities and inservice education agencies, and (iii) continuing inservic education to be supported by research in education where results of research flow down to schools and training institutes and problems of these institutions climb up to research institutions. It also suggested that inservice education of at least two to three months should be received by every teacher in a block of 5 years of his service. For continuing professional development of school teachers KEC also recommended establishment of school complexes as an innovative strategy among clusters of schools.
Important work in the direction of inservice education had started in the country in fifties with the establishment of Extension Service Centres and Extension Service Units in teachers colleges and with the setting up of State Institutes of Education most of which later expanded to SCERTs for secondary and elementary school teachers. It was arranged by NCERT and the Continuing Education Centres set up under its aegis for primary teacher educators and primary and secondary school teachers. Later, 1800 school complexes were also set up in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. (National Commission on Teachers, p. 59). But, as observed by Commission on Teachers-I, ‘inservice education neither became obligatory for every teacher for his professional growth nor a continual further learning could become a part of work ethos of teaching profession’ (pp. 59-60). Inservice teacher education is an integral and longest part of the teacher education continuum. NPE-1986 had rightly observed that preservice and inservice education components of teacher education are inseparable (p. 32). The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Teacher Education-1987 provided a fillip to inservice education of teachers and teacher educators by funding DIETs, SCERTs, CTEs and IASEs for different levels of teachers and teacher educators. However, the Scheme diluted the duration of inservice education and resolved that every teacher will be required to undergo a training of at least three weeks in every block of five years of his service. All these institutions actively organized inservice education programmes.
Despite these inservice education activities the Education Policy Review Document (1990) found some of the same old weaknesses in in-service education programmes as were noticed by KEC. It stated that, ‘inservice programmes are not effectively organized, there is a poor coordination and monitoring of inservice education programmes and research base for making inservice education more effective is absent’ (p. 301). A more balanced attention on preservice and inservice training of teachers was stressed in the POA-1992. (p. 109) Despite many inservice education related initiatives particularly after 1987, the situation of inservice education in the country was not found to be very encouraging by NCTE. In its National Quality Teacher Education Framework (1998) it was observed, that on an average, 40% per cent of the teachers are provided inservice teacher education once over a period of five years (p. 3) and that too is limited to a maximum duration of 3 weeks.
In such circumstances organization of 2-3 months inservice training for every working teacher over every block of five years of service as was recommended by KEC seems to be a remote possibility only. The inservice programmes as being organized by NCERT, SCERTs, CTEs and IASEs for teachers and teacher educators still need lot of fresh look, both at their content and strategy. For example, the innovative strategies of School Complexes and Teachers’ Centres which have already been tried successfully in the country need to be popularized along with other strategies and agencies of inservice education of teachers. Also, there is an urgent need to monitor the quality of these inservice programmes and evaluate their impact. In recent years it has been noticed that State Governments and SCERTs, in an attempt to meet the numerical and expenditure targets, are indulging in serious compromises with quality of these programmes.
8. Professional Development of Teachers in Higher Education
Kothari Commission had rightly observed that in India there is no provision for the professional initiation of a university teacher because his training is regarded as unnecessary. It stressed that there is a need for some orientation and training of university lecturers beyond any doubt. So, to begin with, suitable arrangements of professional orientation of junior lecturers in higher education should be made by universities or a group of universities, regular orientation of newly appointed faculty be organized in every university and, where possible, in every college, and in bigger universities or group of universities these courses should be organized on a permanent basis by establishing staff colleges (p. 156). The professional orientation of higher education teachers could receive some attention only after the implementation of the NPE-1986 which envisaged establishment of Academic Staff Colleges in different parts of the country to organize general professional orientation courses of four weeks duration for newly appointed lecturers under direct funding from UGC. These colleges began to organize orientation courses from 1987. Later, they were also assigned the responsibility of organizing subject based refresher courses of three weeks duration for senior faculty in different disciplines. Theme based seminars and workshops for the benefit of faculty members and academic administrators of higher education institutions are also organized by these staff colleges. With a view to further facilitate professional development of university teachers on a larger scale UGC has also extended support to universities to organize refresher courses in different disciplines in the concerned departments by allotting them Refresher Course Centres for specific subjects. However, so far no thought has been given to organization of full-fledged preservice training institutes for college lecturers. Kothari Commission though did not make any recommendation in this direction, it did not totally rule out the possibility of this kind of initiative.
9. Standards in Teacher Education
KEC was concerned about the absence of any National or State level authority that could ensure standards in teacher education. Instead of suggesting for creation of any statutory body for this purpose, the Commission preferred to recommend that this task be done by a joint standing committee to be set up in UGC with representatives of NCERT, State Boards of Teacher Education and other organizations. The Committee should be concerned with all aspects and all levels of teacher education. Similarly, KEC recommended that State Boards of Teacher Education should be set up and these Boards should be responsible for raising the standards of teacher education at the State level. The Government should provide funds to UGC for improving teacher education in universities and through a centrally sponsored scheme States should also be assisted to improve teacher education.
In response to these recommendations the UGC formed a Standing Committee on Teacher Education which got model teacher education curricula developed for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in teacher education and the same were adopted by most of the teacher education departments in universities. For helping the universities to improve teacher education in their departments and in colleges and institutes of teacher education, as explained earlier, after 20 years of KECR, the Government launched a Scheme for Strengthening and Reorganizing of Teacher Education (1987) which was operationalized through the State Governments. The establishment of State Boards of Teacher Education, however, could not take place. The role and functions as visualized for these Boards have, however, been mainly taken up by NCTE and its regional committees since 1995 and some functions by the SCERTs.
As evident from the previous account, teacher education experienced some changes on the lines of the recommendations made by KEC particularly, after the implementation of the NPE 1986.Yet these changes remained much below the expectations of the Commission. The teacher education system, as it exists today, is not robust enough to effectively face the challenges of our education system in the 21st century. Priority attention needs to be paid on making it more relevant to the emerging needs of changing socio-cultural context of Indian society.
Teacher education programmes at all levels need to be so remodeled that they reflect professionalism in the process of teaching and training. The essence and central concern of professional ideal is competence which will ensure quality and character of teaching in our schools (Prakash, p.344). Teacher education revamped with this ideal in view, will ‘equip teachers with personal attributes of empathy, perception of the need profile of learners from different educationally backward sections of society and capability to impart education in all aspects of cognitive and affective domains as well as psychomotor skills’ (Ramamurthy, p. 302). It is only the professionalised teacher education which will help realize the vision of NCF 2005 for teacher education which asserts that ‘it must become more sensitive to the emerging demands of the school system and prepare the teacher to play the role of an encouraging, supportive, humane, facilitator, in teaching-learning situations’ (p.95).
Professionalism in teacher education necessitates that teachers are subjected to a prolonged period of preparation and exposed to a sizeable body of specialized knowledge (Pandey, 1998, p. 407). This demands extension in duration of teacher education programmes and greater emphasis on well-organized internship on the real school grounds. Emphasis on professionalisation also demands specialized focus at different levels and types of teacher education like the one for early childhood care and education, or for +2 or higher secondary stage, or for vocational stream teachers, etc. due to distinct differences in the nature of learners and curricula of these stages.
2. Development of Education as a Discipline
Linked with the issue of professionalisation of teacher education is the issue of developing and recognizing education as a discipline. Education is still predominantly perceived within the domain of teacher training and equated with pedagogy which is expected to be located in training institutions. This restricted view of the rich area of study of education has curbed its development in the past. Serious attempts by educational administrators in universities will have to be made to visibly correct this perception. It should acquire the same place in teaching and research at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as is occupied by other social sciences and a rather closer interdisciplinary interaction should be encouraged. Education should also be one of the subjects offered in senior level civil services examinations and an all India service cadre of educators be created so that education acquires the status of a full-fledged independent area of study. Once education achieves this status, larger number of students with varied aims in view will like to study this discipline and it will easily become a part of the mainstream life of the universities and its isolated and stagnant existence will be replaced by dynamic and interdisciplinary progress.
3. Bridging gap between School and Teacher Education Curricula
Teacher education at different levels remains weak for the fact that its programmes have little scope of studies in school subjects. Also, due to lack of researches on problems faced in schools, it keeps the teacher education programme and practices quite aloof of the school needs which keep changing and are reflected in its updated curricula at different levels. Teacher education has to regularly attune itself to the demands of the school curriculum, both in terms of knowledge and competence in subjects taught in schools as well as in their pedagogical orientations. For example, peace education, environmental education, sustainable development, HIV/AIDS education, being emphasised in the revised national curriculum framework for schools (2005) should be reflected in an updated teacher education curriculum. Similarly, the constructivist approach followed in the NCF (2005) and the shift in focus of pedagogic theory from pure disciplinary knowledge to the learner and his context (p.97) need to be immediately reflected in teacher education programmes so that the spirit and intent of the new curriculum framework is realized in schools.
4. Quality Control in Teacher Education
NCTE as a statutory regulatory body is responsible to ensure that teacher education institutions observe essential norms laid down for maintaining standards of quality of education. It has also taken the help of NAAC in order to get these quality standards of teacher education institutions assessed and accredited. However, it is common knowledge that quality standards especially relating to faculty and training processes are still not being sincerely maintained in teacher education institutions. There is a feeling that once NAAC certification is granted, institutions exploit it due to absence of any mechanism for follow up action by NAAC or NCTE. Persistent follow up needs to be an on-going responsibility of NAAC once it carries out initial assessment and accredition of any teacher education institution.
The curricula of teacher education institutions have also to be upto date and attuned with the emerging social, national and international issues. These will have to be more dynamic and responsive to the emerging demands of the society and school curriculum like multicultural education, human rights education, computer and ICT application in education, use of technology in the transaction of curriculum, etc. (Mukhopadhyay, p. 409).
5. Need for Qualified Teacher Educators
A general deficiency noticed in many teacher education institutions relates to non availability of suitably qualified teacher educators in them. This is seriously affecting quality of teaching and training in these institutions. Due to dearth of institutions offering postgraduate programmes for teacher educators, teacher education institutions are forced to appoint under qualified or poor quality unsuitable teacher educators. Therefore, arrangements need to be made to enhance capacity of institutions for preparing teacher educators for all levels and types of training institutions.
6. Globalisation of Economies
For meaningful survival of educational institutions in 21st century globalised world adequate preparations in terms of constant curriculum changes in educational institutions is indispensable at school, university and teacher education levels. This demands teachers to be so empowered that they continuously update the curriculum and are able to transact it in the changing perspectives of education. Teacher education institutions need to equip its prospective teachers with the ability to do careful future scanning (of the threats and opportunities in future) and to reach to such valuable knowledge which may work as base for constant curriculum change in a society which is a dynamic and vibrant socio-economic system.
Globalisation of economic activities has a strong cultural dimension also. It increases multicultural orientation and richness of the ethos in society which essentially demands that its future citizens must have the capacity to live peacefully and in harmony with people from varied cultures. Teacher education system would have to equip the teachers with the ability to deal with multicultural realities in schools and classrooms and also with the competence to teach their children to learn to live together with understanding and in harmony in multicultural settings.
7. Increasing Media Support including New Technologies
Fast pace developments in technology particularly the Information Communication Technology is forcing its extensive use in training colleges and schools for improving the quality of teaching and learning. Teacher educators as well as prospective teachers need to be trained to use and integrate these technologies effectively in teaching and learning, made aware of the sources from where to get software and plan linkages with curriculum and also be so acquainted with every aspect of the hardware that they are able to maintain them at their own for their unhindered use in classrooms. Teacher training programmes would have to be sufficiently redesigned to incorporate these technology related needs of educators and trainee teachers.
8. Continuing Education of Teachers
The rapidly changing world has posed the challenge of making learning a life long process. More than any one else, it is the knowledge worker who is required to face this challenge most effectively as the quality of education being imparted by him will entirely depend on his following of the principle of learning throughout life. This demands development of inservice teacher education in a manner that it allows frequent access to it by teachers and facilitates them in not only keeping themselves fully abreast of developments in their area of teaching but also in renewing their teaching skills based on developments taking place in information and communication technologies. For this purpose such dedicated inservice education institutions have to be established where round the year facilities and human resources are available not only for inservice training of teachers but also for other services like guidance, research, resource support, etc. to them. In India so far, INSET programmes, though distinctly emphasized after NPE-1986, have not really become avenues of need based continuous professional development of teachers.
Institutions like IASEs, CTEs and DIETs as well as Teachers Centres and Schools Compexes with greater support and autonomy in their activities may become permanent centers of continuing education and resource support for teachers.
9. Unregulated Expansion of Teacher Education
Except for a broad policy declaration for development of teacher education institutions in the country that states that one DIET in each district and 250 CTEs and 50 IASEs across all States shall be established, there is no other detailed plan in place for development of teacher education in the country. In the absence of any such plan, mushroom growth of teacher education institutions, particularly in the private sector, is taking place. This is adversely affecting the quality of training being given in such institutions. There is an urgent need to prepare a detailed teacher education development plan based on a survey of the need for trained teachers in different sectors at State and substate levels. The regulatory authority is also required to enforce more objective and stringent measures to maintain quality of teaching and training in these institutions on continuing basis.
10. Common School System
With a view to provide education of equitable quality to all children, it is likely that in future common school system, in place of multilayered school system, is introduced. A beginning in this direction has been made with the 86th Amendment to the Constitution which has granted Right to Education vide Article 21(A) to the Children. Under the Common School System children of varied backgrounds from the neighbourhood locality will attend the same school and will receive education of the same quality. Ensuring high quality of education in each neighbourhood school will be a challenge for its teachers and administrators which would need special orientation and preparation of the teachers to understand the varied contexts, needs and aspiration of students and satisfy the same to the best of their ability through reformulation of curriculum, syllabus and textbooks and remodeling of teaching strategies and methodologies to suit this situation.
In the foregoing pages the vision of Kothari Commission about teachers and their role in the process of educational and national development in the country has been discussed. The Commission had recommended several actions to translate its vision into reality. These proposed actions were also meant for removing various weaknesses that were found to be present in the teacher education system of the country. During the last four decades as explained earlier, many attempts have been made to implement these recommendations and bring improvements in the teacher education system. However, from the discussion presented here it is evident that teacher education is yet to receive the desired level of attention of educational administrators and others. The vision of the Commission and most of its propositions are still valid and relevant. Various socio-economic developments in the recent past have posed fresh challenges before the education system. A further reinforced and creatively reorganized teacher education would go a long way in helping the education system face these challenges effectively. Its success will lie in making itself continuously attuned to the changing needs and curricula of schools and other institutions as also to the demands made by the continuing economic and technological advances.