Pooja Birwatkar shares serious issues concerning Indian teacher education institutes that are involved in predatory practices of awarding degrees. She maintains that the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is highly cognisant about the wrong practices especially in stand-alone teacher education colleges but opines that closing them by 2030 is a long period.
Quality of the teacher training in India has consistently been a topic of conversation amongst the committees but the recently launched NEP 2020 has finally vocalised it in clear terms. While the policy merely reiterates what other polices and commissions had been stating, it still manages to stir up the hornet’s nest.
Where it went wrong?
In 2014-15, the big jolt that teacher education institutes (TEIs) received was the conversion of one-year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) programme into two years, around which, there was a wide-ranging certainty and anticipation that time. Yet, to the shock, scepticism and disbelief of the teacher training institutes, the two-year program did manage its way universally across the country, leaving institutes to have no option but to adhere to it for survival. The stricter norms for quality teacher-training that followed were more rigorous in their approach. However, most of the TEIs failed largely to bring forth the level of quality and excellence that was expected. The same old sorry tale of TEIs being fake or substandard ones merely commercialising the professional degree continued.
Since last two years the news kept trickling in that the two-year B.Ed. programme will now become four years. While many private unaided TEIs were concerned about the change but they still were contented with the thought that even if this four-year integrated B.Ed. programme surfaces, it would be additional and so their existence was secure.
Now, with this recent NEP, the dormant volcano has become active. As rightly pointed in the policy document, most of these stand-alone TEIs which are over 10,000 are actually not attempting serious teacher education. It is also to be noted that the NEP mentions about the Regulatory System which will be empowered to take strict action against substandard and dysfunctional TEIs that do not meet basic educational criteria, after giving one year for remedy of the breaches. By 2030, only educationally sound, multidisciplinary, and integrated teacher education programmes shall be in force. Thus, 2030 is the final deadline for the “substandard” stand-alone institutions to stop offering B.Ed. course.
While this policy has been very frank about the rampant corruption in stand-alone colleges in last two decades, it oddly talks in a very futuristic mode. Ten year period is an over-stretched period. While the policy focuses a lot on what would happen ten years from now, it does not carve a road map for what happens during these ten years. Will these “substandard” TEIs continue while awaiting a natural death or will they shut down immediately or will they continue in a hope that political pressures and judicial system will not let this nightmare turn into reality? Are these TEIs which are on the brink of likewise inevitability make serious efforts to upgrade their quality initiatives and send eminent teachers into the system for the next ten years? What would happen in these ten years?
The policy in very subdued tones has hinted immediate closure of these not so suitable teacher training colleges and many a times fake colleges. While it may be relatively easier to control and close fake colleges, the private unaided TEIs that are substandard would be theones which will be difficult to deal with. Many of them are having a high accreditation grade owing to at times corrupted means resorted by accreditation agencies.
Dilemma over period
Moreover, our system does need a continuous inflow of teachers which are provided by TEIs. Ten years is a long period during which the demand for teachers will continue being on a high rise. This policy has not given any mandate on where these teachers are going to come from. Of course, the other angle is that let there be rather a dearth of teachers than poor quality teachers. But this is rather too ambitious and unrealistic. This country can’t afford to wait ten long years for quality teachers to start coming in. There has been enough damage done by the mushroomed low-quality TEIs? Are they going to be allowed more ten years with the know how that they will thereafter be closed. The motivational levels and the half-hearted efforts to push for quality were the first to erode in these institutions with the launch of NEP.
One plan of action could be to allow the institutions rendering excellence and quality to survive post 2030. But again, as always, corruption would find its way and there would be a mad rush to become institutions of excellence at any cost. The situation would be same. While understanding the magnitude of the education sector in the country, its economic policy and political vested interest, on one hand, ten years seems to be most plausible timeline yet on the other hand ten years is a long period to let the substandard TEIs grow parallel with the quality institutions. These unscrupulous TEIs need to be closed immediately as ample proof is available of their existence and poor performance which has prompted this new policy to make bold statements about them.
The pertinent question is- why the long wait to close them, 2030 is far away, stump them now!
The views/opinion expressed in this article are of the author. This article is licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY. Courtesy: Editorial assistance: Sneha Rathod and Vibha Dalal; Article image: pxhere.com