Sunday, March 17, 2013

Our teachers need a good education

Our teachers need a good education

Jul 24, 2012, 04.53AM IST

By Dileep Ranjekar
Amid political uncertainty in Karnataka, the education department has seen relative stability. The Right to Education Act, which is supposed to add strength to education, has come as a catalyst. Another positive development is the establishment of bodies like the Karnataka State Knowledge Commission and the Vision Group in Science and Technology, with mandates to contribute to quality education. For the new chief minister, it would be wise to continue with these initiatives. Here's what he could do to up the bar.

1 The Right to Education (RTE) Act has to be seen as an enabling legislation. It infuses some basic conditions such as the right infrastructure, the right teacher-pupil ratio in all schools (including government schools) in the state. We must remember that the RTE is not all about the 25% reservation in private schools but about several other critical factors, which, if implemented right, will lay a basic foundation for quality education.
2 Teachers make the highest impact on quality in the classroom. They are at the heart of education but the status of overall teacher education in India is pathetic, to put it mildly. Karnataka has made a beginning to address the issue of both pre-service and in-service teacher education and is developing a framework for their education. The state has about 300 teacher education colleges, with the capacity of graduating 30,000 teachers each year. A majority of these colleges are also resorting to malpractices - allowing students to register for the programme at a fee and collecting certificates at the end of the year without attending classes. An independent quality assessment of such institutions is needed to close down the bogus ones.
3 We need high quality teacher educators. The vicious cycle of poor quality in-service teacher development begins with the absence of high quality teacher educators. If the existing capacity of over 3 lakh teachers has to be enhanced, the state must develop at least 500 high quality teacher educators, who would effectively shoulder this responsibility.
4 A school principal can make or break a school. Today, there is no prerequisite for a teacher being promoted as head teacher, nor is any special input given to build the capacity of the head teacher. The education department has already launched the school leadership development programme. The government must ensure that all 50,000 school leaders in the state are covered by an intensive programme of development.
5 Education functionaries need to be well equipped. The state has around 7,500 functionaries who are responsible for supporting the schools from outside - ensuring quality infrastructure, maintaining the right teacher-pupil ratio and facilitating a smooth flow of incentives, textbooks, midday meals etc. The government must ensure that the already-launched management development programme covers all education functionaries, enabling them to have the necessary education perspective, competencies in their respective roles and the social orientation to deal with children emerging from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Dileep Ranjekar is CEO, Azim Premji Foundation

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