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Teacher training weakest link in education chain

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Subodh Varma, TNN | Jun 9, 2014, 05.43 AM IST | Times of India

One of the most important streams of higher education is teachers’ training. It is from here that thousands of young men and women spread out to teach children in schools, virtually holding the destiny of the future generations in their hands. Yet teachers’ training remains one of the most chaotic, neglected and deficient sectors of India’s vast education system.

Sadhana Singh of Kanpur discovered this last month when she tried to enroll for the B.Ed program in Delhi. The eligibility conditions laid down by the National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) are straightforward: any graduate with at least 50% marks can apply for admission. Since the NCTE is the apex regulatory body for teachers’ education, setting down the rules for everything from eligibility to facility standards, Sadhana was confident that she would get admission in Delhi’s prestigious B.Ed programs in Delhi University or Jamia Milia.

She couldn’t have been more wrong. For both these universities she was declared not eligible because she was a commerce graduate. She is not alone in this — there are thousands of commerce graduates who are denied admission to BEd programs, although such rules are in direct violation of NCTE norms and regulations. Similar complaints have been received from Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

Rama Mathew, director of Delhi University’s Central Institute of Education (CIE) where BEd and MEd courses are taught says that the eligibility conditions were arrived at after past experience and approved by the university Academic Council. She was unaware that NCTE norms do not allow this prohibition of BCom graduates.

“It appears that there is a disjunct between our university and the NCTE. We will write to them to change the eligibility conditions,” she said after the violation was pointed out.

Her colleague in CIE, Poonam Batra is heading a committee set up by the NCTE on the Supreme Court’s advise to reformulate all norms and rules of the NCTE. In the new recommendations, the committee has maintained the previous eligibility conditions of any graduate with 50% marks.

Poonam Batra, who was a member of the Verma Commission set up in 2011 on the SC’s orders to look into teachers’ education, was aghast when TOI told her that her own institute was not allowing commerce graduates. She asserted that as per both existing and proposed norms, all graduates should be allowed.

Venita Kaul, a professor in Ambedkar University Delhi who was initially nominated to the Batra committee but resigned, told TOI that commerce is not taught in classes up to 10th and so there is no need for commerce graduates to be admitted.

“Moreover, NCTE norms are guidelines, states can adjust according to their local conditions,” she said. This is clearly not the case: the NCTE is a statutory body and it lays down the law for teachers’ education.

Farida Khan, professor in Jamia Milia and member of the Batra committee was also surprised that her own university was not allowing commerce graduates in violation of NCTE norms.

A senior teachers’ education professor in Rajasthan, who wished to remain unnamed, told TOI that this confusion among the top brass of the NCTE and the blatant flouting of rules at the ground level is rampant across the country.

“Earlier Rajasthan too did not allow commerce graduates to enroll for BEd but after a high court order in 2005 where the NCTE’s supremacy was upheld, the state government started allowing them,” he told TOI.

Teachers’ education has been plagued by sub-standard institutions and policy confusion for years.

India is facing a double crisis of both quality and quantity of school teachers. According to the 12th five year plan there is an estimated shortage of 12.58 lakh teachers just at the elementary level. In addition, several States face an acute problem of untrained teachers. Tight fisted state governments are merrily employing contractual teachers at low pay scales sacrificing quality and discouraging talent.

Original URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Teacher-training-weakest-link-in-education-chain/articleshow/36269730.cms

 

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