India’s got a teacher problem – and here’s what the Government is doing about it

OK, we’ve known it for years, but India’s got a teacher problem.

For a variety of reasons – other career options, low pay, demanding schedules – schools simply do not attract the quality of teachers they need. The rapid growth in number of schools further worsens the situation. From 2010-11 to 2015-16, the number of private schools in India grew an astounding 35%.

The result – 9 lakh teacher vacancies exist across primary and upper-primary schools. Per a UNESCO report, 74 countries face grave shortage of teachers, with India being No.2 on the list. What’s worse, it shows in the quality of students. More than 50% of students in Grade 5 cannot read a Grade 2 text or solve a simple subtraction problem.

With several systemic issues plaguing the Education sector, it’s virtually impossible to address the situation in a hurry. So, when the Government announced a change to how the B.Ed. program in India is run, our ears perked up!

What’s changed?

From the 2018-19 academic session, the standard 2-year long Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) program is proposed to give way to a 4-year integrated program. The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has asked the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) to start working on a revamped syllabus for the integrated B.A. B.Ed. and B.Sc. B.Ed. course.

The B.Ed. journey till date

The B.Ed. program has had a rollercoaster ride so far, with proposals and revisions. In 2014, the B.Ed. course was reported to be reduced to a 1-year course to boost its demand. However, the syllabus had not been revised at that time, thus making the course less attractive.

As of March 2016, 15 lakh students were pursuing teacher training courses. Of them, only 4,000 were pursuing the integrated programme. The new 4-year integrated program is a fresh move on part of MHRD to make the course more comprehensive and therefore, more attractive.

A bit more about the 4-year integrated program…

This course is structured to cater to the needs of Senior Primary and Secondary Schools where the subjects are general in nature and students must learn basic and fundamental concepts in the fields of Maths, Science, Languages and Social Sciences. The core element of the course is based on primary concerns of teacher education and subjects within.

For the B.A. B.Ed. 4-year integrated course, language groups and social science group will be part of the curriculum.

The B.Sc. B.Ed. 4-year integrated course is offered in two different combinations, PCB and PCM. PCB means Physics, Chemistry and Biology for AB and B group of Science stream at 12th level, whereas PCM means Physics, Chemistry and Maths for AB and A group of Science stream. Candidates who have passed 12th Science examination in AB and B Group can opt for PCB, whereas AB and A Group can opt for PCM.

As a part of programme, students are offered skill courses to enhance their teaching skills.

Why we’re positive about the move

While it’s early days yet to judge the effectiveness of the decision, there’s a lot going for it:
Works for the sector: One of the biggest problems of the Education sector has been the paucity of serious candidates, keen on teaching as a career. As new rules demand candidates to make a choice earlier in their lives (after Grade 12, as against after graduation), only those genuinely interested in teaching, will take it up
Works for candidates: The B.Ed. program earlier would take five years to complete (3 years for B.A./B.Sc. + 2 years for B.Ed.). Now, a candidate can start working within just 4 years of finishing Grade 12/Higher Secondary, without compromising on the quality of education – a big incentive for any candidate
Works for schools: As more and more candidates begin choosing a career in education, this will partially correct the demand-supply equation for good teachers. Also, the availability of more professionally-qualified teachers, will help schools tackle the issue of teacher attrition (especially among those teachers who take up the job only for the money, or to use their time better)
Works for students: Sustained access to better-qualified teachers will help improve understanding of subjects, address issues such as student absenteeism (especially in small towns & villages) and help create a learning mindset for life. As India grapples with the issue of increasing unemployability, this move will help improve the student profile, and set young Indians up for success in later years.

As India strengthens its position globally, the quality of education will play a major role in sustaining India’s competitiveness. It is imperative to be agile and responsive to best practices. Per Business Insider, Finland – which is gradually becoming the leading education system in the world – has some of the best quality teachers. Among other factors, this has been made possible due to its 5-year integrated coursework during teacher training.

We believe the Indian Government’s move is laudable and will yield desired results. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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