Addressing the shortage of trained teaching staff in rural India
India is a fairly young country with a reported highest population of youth. Of this, almost 60 percent currently are under the age of 25 years and do not reside in cities. They are the ones who are eager learners and are not getting the required exposure to become employable or what we would like to say, ‘future ready’.
The challenge lies in the kind of pedagogy that is being used, seems to be catering to learners in the urban part of India only. The knowledge sharing resources are limited and do not play a fair ground for learners living in villages. To add to this, is the poor skill training of teachers who are unable to provide the right kind of support to learners is a dampener. In the process of formulating a report, a group of secretaries appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recommended that ‘teachers should concentrate on teaching only and should not be assigned any non-academic work.’
Every year, teachers (especially teaching in government schools) are forced into various non teaching tasks. For one, the many teachers associations year after year, dread the letters they start receiving from the election commission to send names of their teaching and non-teaching staff to be assigned various related duties. Apart from this, teachers are forced into conducting cattle census, election duties, pulse polio work to ration card verification and much more.
This indeed hampers their academic responsibilities.
Unfortunately, in India, there is no centralized method that governs the quality of teaching staff being appointed to various schools, private or public. It is known fact that there are still several states in India that ‘have exempted candidates from Teachers' Eligibility Test (TET)’. This is because a mere 20 percent are successfully able to clear the exam in the first place. The quality of skilled manpower is therefore compromised, resulting in a low turnout rate of learners.
The same analogy works with teacher training facilities that are not fully equipped with well trained and proficient teachers to train the next lot of teachers. Private schools win over these limitations, creation a cycle of ‘continuous professional development’ that is said to be a ‘great motivator for teachers to educate themselves.’ No wonder, it is growing teachers that help in creating great breed of future learners.
Amidst all these evident challenges, there are initiatives taken by the Modi government which has helped satiate the desire of fair learning amongst rural children and youth.
A not-for-profit novice initiative, eVidyaloka is now connecting rural learners and teaching volunteers through digital classrooms. The committed passionate lot of teachers come from varied backgrounds and is all a proficient bunch comprising housewives, IT professionals and retired defence personnel. As shared with the media, ‘the eVidyaloka team organises Skype classes according to the availability of volunteers and batch sizes’ and this move has made learning fun for many children in rural India.
Under a fresh blueprint by the apex regulator the National Council For Teacher Education (NCTE), a tight grip on dubious teacher education establishments is confirmed. This will actually bar 3000 teacher education colleges from admitting fresh students from the next academic year. Also, by January 2018, NCTE plans to declare a ranking of the top 100 teacher training institutes that will provide robust teacher training modules. Hopefully, this move will curb the growth of poor quality teaching institutions in India and bring about transparency in teacher training as well.