Scaling the teacher qualifications challenge

Yet another example of a one size fits all approach has manifested itself recently. An excerpt from an article in the Indian Express on June 29, 2011 titled B.Ed. must, alternative schools weigh options reads:

At Rishi Valley School and Doon School, many teachers have been working for a long time without a Bachelor’s degree in education, though some have a Master’s and some even a Ph D from elite institutions such as the IITs in India and Harvard abroad. Now the government has asked these teachers to enroll in a distance learning programme, such as those offered by IGNOU, and get a Bachelor’s degree a diploma in education. With the government firm that a teacher’s qualification must be standardised under the RTE Act, bigger “alternative schools” have fallen in line with the NCTE’s prescription while the smaller ones are looking at the prospect of closing down.

This is quite ironic. Why make sweeping generalization that wilfully result in situations like these? Teacher education is an important issue involving not just the state of teacher qualifications like the Bachelor of Education degree, but also the working conditions, incentives, support, motivation and skill development of teachers in general. Not to miss the sorry conditions of para-teachers in India.

I have often said that we are making a mistake by arguing against the current exam focussed educational system, while at the same time putting our own teachers and future educational administrators through the same process. There is also the question of the relevance of the current curriculum itself. Interestingly, the Faculty of Education at Delhi University does not even have the syllabus online for its various courses! At some point, we will encounter the argument for more vocational based certifications for teaching given the large scale we face.


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