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Restructuring Teacher Education in Chhattisgarh

Education

Rashmi Sinha

I was recently in Chhattisgarh as a member of Joint Review Mission of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of teacher education. This initiative of the Government of India’s MHRD, is a nationwide program for restructuring of teacher education, largely in response to Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory education (RTE). My first post, Listening to Winds of Change, gave my impressions of poor visibility of scheduled tribes in public places, markets and in the state government and the need for a more rooted and inclusive model of development to end this isolation. Today’s post, “Restructuring Teacher Education in Chhattisgarh,” will talk about the challenges the state is facing in realigning its teacher education to curricular reforms as per National Curriculum framework 2005 and RTE related new policy thrusts.

My visit to Chhattisgarh was both heart-warming and challenging. Heart-warming, as it gave me a chance to experience the state which has great historical and cultural significance and is endowed with great biodiversity. Challenging, because of the size and enormity of the task assigned to us. The  purpose of Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of the MHRD, GoI is to bring in nationwide restructuring of teacher education set up to improve teacher education capacity and professional competence of teachers. For more details access  http://www.teindia.nic.in/jrm.aspx.

Educational Profile

There are around 6.1 million children in .06 million schools and there is an amazing teacher pupil ratio of 1:23 at the elementary level!  The state has arrested the drop-out rate at elementary level within 1.5 per cent. [Source: Prashaskiya Prativedna Year 2011-12, School Education Dept. Govt. of Chhattisgarh]. Despite the amazing teacher pupil ratio, the education profile suggested that state still has 62,466 teacher vacancies due to uneven spread of educational  facilities. The annual intake capacity at D.Ed and B.Ed is 2,070 and 10,280 respectively. The state prepares around 520 teacher educators [M.Ed] per year. With this teacher training capacity, the state still has 33,714 untrained teachers waiting to be trained.

Along with this, the state is facing massive challenges of reforming existing teacher education institutions, expanding its capacity for teacher education and finding ways to deal with the strong diversity within the state.

Here are my observations, for the attention of policy makers and analysts, to ensure better implementation of the Scheme.

Absence of a Common Vision

The SCERT [State Council of Educational Research & Training] Chhattisgarh is trying to grasp the enormity and complexity of its role as the designated Academic Authority under RTE. I realized that this requires not just struggling alone but collaborating with diverse stakeholders, be it in private or public sector and move forward with a common vision for teacher preparation across the state. There is a need to recognize quality as the essence of a programme of teacher education.

Chhattisgarh DIET

[DIET Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh]

Out dated and Inadequate Infrastructure

I perceived that aspirations to provide better preparation to pupil-teachers [D.Ed] ran high in all DIETs[District Institute of Education and Trainings]. There were instances of individual initiatives but scarcity of resources, inadequate understanding of the policy expectations [National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education] and outmoded institutional structures were causing waste and unending struggle to meet the new policy thrusts and goals.

 Need for Academic Cadre

  1. At DIET Ambikapur, I noticed that consistent and stable leadership was missing. The tenure of DIET principals and faculty shows uncertainty. The absence of administrative muscle and distant locations of DIETs dissuades people from desiring a posting in DIET. It is widely considered a “punishment” posting. Thus there are instances of frequent transfers and very short tenures.
  2. I felt that to resolve the situation, there is a strong need to build a cadre of teachers and teacher educators, with the recruitment policies, service conditions, opportunities for professional growth and incentive policies. Such provisions of cadre [Schools, DIET’s, CTE, IASE and the SCERT, University] will create a clear path for the professional development of each teacher, will  possibly improve the prospects for each teacher and restore  hope and social standing of teachers and teacher educators.

Support to Teachers 

  1. I found that some issues related to trainings, such as its rapid frequency, absence of teachers to attend trainings,  disruption of learning processes, inappropriateness of topics, mechanical delivery of training  were reported.  This indicates a need to start a serious discussion on how to re-arrange and reorganize the entire system of training across the state so that it works to facilitate the systems instead of causing distrust in the entire system.
  2. I felt the trainings are still quite ‘input’ oriented and described in terms of days of training, material produced and financial utilizations.
  3. The academic positions created to provide on-site support to teachers at block and cluster level, have become heavily skewed and burdened with the work of data collection/collation and are defeating their own raison d’etre. The situation requires immediate analysis of these positions to refocus on the assigned academic role.

Diversity Issues

  1. The SCERT and some DIET have done remarkable work in the area of multilingual education, creating teaching learning material in children’s home languages such as in Sargujiah, Gondi, Hulbi, Koontukh etc. I realized the DIETs need to create more space in D.Ed curriculum to help pupil-teachers to develop skills to use such material and also to encourage and support students from local communities to participate in schools for better inclusion of children from diverse back grounds.
  2. Pupil-teachers take very interesting Shodh Yatra [ guided research tours ] to connect to community and to reconstruct their knowledge in its context. These researches are well documented and become a part of DIET’s library. The state must work on a mechanism to feed these findings into the system to contextualize and ensure relevance to changing needs school education.

Urgency, Urgency, Urgency

The success of RTE Act depends on availability of quality teachers for schooling system. The urgency has to be felt NOW. Gabriela Mistral [Nobel Prize Winning Poet from Chile] rightly said,” “We are guilty of many errors and many faults, But our worst crime is abandoning the children,… Many of the things we need can wait, The child cannot wait. Right now is the time his[her] bones are being formed,… And his [her] senses are being developed. To him [her] we cannot answer ‘tomorrow’ His[her] name is Today

This blog was originally published on Spontaneous Order.

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