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Rural teachers below par, says study

Teacher performance, Teacher salary

A study sponsored by the United Nations has found many primary school teachers in the rural areas inadequately skilled for their job.

The study notes that most of them are weakest in situations where they are required to find creative ways for an effective teaching. It also observed that the current nature of qualifications and “usual types of teacher training” were not sufficient to guarantee effective teaching.

“A much closer look is needed at what teachers know, what they are able to do and how they translate their own capabilities into practice,” suggests the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) on “Teaching and learning in rural India” by Pratham, a non-government organisation. The study was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan in collaboration with Unicef and Unesco, covering a large cohort of almost 30,000 standard II and standard IV students randomly selected from the enrollment registers of government schools.

The study found no relationship between specific teacher characteristics like years of experience, gender, age, educational or professional qualifications and student learning outcomes.

“Selecting candidates with the best possible academic qualifications does not automatically ensure that they know how to teach young children. But teachers’ ability to teach, as measured by a simple teaching capability assessment, is correlated with higher student achievement,” it said.

Teachers’ content knowledge was in many cases inadequate when compared against a standard 4 curriculum. Although simple corrections of basic competencies could be done well by most teachers, their ability to explain content was clearly easier to do for simpler concepts or operations than for those that have slightly higher levels of difficulty.

“Teachers are weakest when it comes to application of their knowledge or skill to a given situation where they have to take the initiative to generate something new, such as a meaningful summary or a problem for students to solve,” the survey observed.

Researchers involved in the study also felt great need of “child friendly” class rooms in primary schools, but lamented that teachers’ theoretical awareness of the importance of such classrooms did not translate into practice.

“In four out of every ten classrooms observed for this study, none of the six very simple ‘child friendly’ indicators were observed,” stated the report. Findings of the study indicated that children did learn over the course of a year, “too little and too late. The process of falling behind begins early. Once behind, there are no mechanisms within the school system to help children catch up,”the report suggested.

Deccan Herald, 29 October 2011

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