World Bank, in a 2017 report, warned of a learning crisis across the world. In India, the report said, half the children in grade 5 could not read a text meant for Grade 2 children. The report, among other things, highlighted that teachers lacked necessary skills and motivation.
Adding to the World Bank report was the NITI Aayog report which made recommendations for Teacher Education and Training.
It is clear that the quality of education does not just span curriculum and infrastructure but depends highly upon the quality of teachers as well. This brings the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) to the spotlight.
What are the provisions in the National Education Policy (NEP) to create a robust network of qualified and skilled school teachers?
Improvement In Teacher Recruitment Process
NEP, to begin with, has highlighted the need to have teachers with the talent for teaching and says that there are very few initiatives which 'explicitly aim to recruit the best performing students, or those that have the most talent for teaching, into the teaching profession'. It cites that the current recruitment process does not involve any practical aspect even though teaching is a performative profession.
NEP says that Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs), both at central and state level, have little correlation with teaching ability.
To address this immediately, NEP has suggested that TETs will be strengthened with revised test material which would correlate to the capacities of an outstanding teacher.
"In addition, for subject teachers, suitable NTA test scores in the corresponding subjects will also be taken into account for recruitment."
The policy also makes provision for classroom demonstration or interview as part of the teacher recruitment process.
Number Of Teachers
According to government data, the country lacks teachers to the extent of 10 lakh vacancies in government-run schools. Rural area schools suffer the most from the lack of teachers with many schools running with only one teacher teaching all grades.
To address the issue of lack of teachers, NEP has made the suggestion that teachers, particularly in subjects such as art, physical education, vocational education, and languages, be hired to a school complex instead of to just one school.
By a school complex, the policy means a conglomeration of local area schools consisting of one secondary school and a number of pre-primary through middle schools. The teachers, thus hired, would be shared across the schools in the complex as needed.
Teachers From Local Communities
Another issue that NEP highlights is lack of a role model for students from their own community and teachers with whom they can talk in their home language. The policy stresses that it is important for students, particularly in remote, rural, and tribal areas, to have a teacher who can speak their local language.
To address this, the policy has made the suggestion that local eminent persons or experts as "specialised instructors" in various subjects, such as traditional local arts, vocational crafts, entrepreneurship, agriculture, or any other subject where local expertise exists be hired by schools.
Some other vital suggestions made in the policy include stopping the practice of frequent teacher transfers and discontinuation of appointing non-teaching works to teachers.
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