In our Teacher’s Day series, let’s examine what the National Education Policy 2020 has for teachers and how far shall our teachers be benefitted:
The new set of requirements
The New Education Policy wishes to transform the ways CTET and TET qualified teachers shall be recruited. For subject teachers, suitable TET or the National Testing Agency (NTA) test scores in their corresponding subjects will be considered for recruitment. The NTA will hold exams for all subjects and a common aptitude test.
Teachers in private schools too shall have to qualify TET. Teacher recruitments shall be largely based on interviews with teachers having to take demonstration classes and also show proficiency in native languages since mother tongue instruction till 5th standard is necessitated.
The policy makes it mandatory for teachers to undergo a minimum 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree introduced as a minimum qualification and invalidating the Individual Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs). Dual BEd degrees with a focus on one language and having bilingual lectures will be offered too. BEd programs will allow specialization in the education of ‘gifted children’. B.Ed courses shall be integrated in such a manner that knowledge of new-age courses like computational thinking, coding is picked by teachers.
The options for one and two-year BEd courses shall also be available. Two-year-BEd degrees shall be kept for candidates having a Bachelor’s degree, and one-year programmes for those having completed the equivalent of four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree. These candidates will be later eligible for being hired as subject teachers in their areas of speciality (or the subject they pursued at UG or PG level).
Teaching shall be made an accessible profession in rural areas. To ensure brighter students entering the teaching profession, merit-based scholarships shall be available all over the country that includes preferential employment in rural areas. This shall be done keeping in mind the increase of employment opportunities, majorly for female students to serve as local area role models also as an advantage being proficient in local languages as modes of instruction.
For already hired teachers, there shall be provisions to participate in at least 50 hours of continuous professional development (CPD) every year. A merit-based structure of tenure, promotion, and salary structure shall be developed. Under this model, teachers will be provided with incentives. The evaluative system shall consist of multiple parameters, that shall be developed by each state and include peer reviews, attendance, commitment, hours of CPD, and other forms of service to the school and the community.
Transfers will be conducted in “very special circumstances” and through an online computerized system that enables transparency.
Let’s examine these for ourselves
The new NEP has several visionary measures at par with global standards. It in fact is a brilliant chalking out by the government trying to deal with several truly problematic facets of the teaching system in India which truly suffers from a lack of quality teachers and quality teaching. If rolled out properly, the NEP truly has a lot to offer our teachers. However, there are several areas in which the implementation of the policy might go seriously wrong. We highlight a few of those in the following points:
The problem stays with ‘integrating’ not just theoretical courses, but an entire social psyche of an entire people, which is already pretty inflexible and tradition-oriented. 50 hours of CPD might be a visionary thought but shall prove immensely strenuous, rigorous and mentally taxing for middle-aged teachers. The NEP wishes to roll out by the year 2030. And there shall be several teachers in their mid-40s or 50s or nearing that age by that time. The government although wishes to impart technical knowledge and train teachers by then believing it might be something easy to pick up given the expanded duration. However, the teachers in a decade will have to deal with a new lot of students opting for interdisciplinary courses, challenging previously held norms or mores of approaching disciples or subjects. Teachers trained in an erstwhile school of thought shall find it immensely difficult to adapt to the students’ needs. We need to keep in mind that society evolves along with its ideologies, lifestyle patterns and attitude changes. Theoretical assessments on pen and paper are difficult to change preconditioned individuals nearing their autumn of life and indoctrinate them into radical value systems. The process shall be quite difficult for middle-aged, tradition-abiding teachers. Ones in cosmopolitan spaces might find it easy but in non-cosmopolitan ones might find it equally challenging.
Further, the idea to enable job openings in rural areas by channelling superior academic minds into the teaching profession might seem very idealistic but in actuality can be very constricting and limit social mobility. More so for females, for whom pedagogy in local schools shall become the only benchmark of an independent source of income allowed by a largely patriarchal society. Teaching needs to be universally de-stigmatised in the country. 4 year B. Ed courses that shall be offered as one year or two-year alternatives depending on any higher degree the candidate might have pursued also plays on the privilege card. Under such a scenario, a minimum 4-year course shall be the opening to sure-shot jobs in opportunistically compromised areas. It shall also deter a spirit of higher learning or wanting to pursue research for the backward or marginalized of society for whom a financial backing is of primary necessity. Specialized teachers might stay concentrated only in privileged parts of the country creating a sheer rift between rural and urban parts.
There is more to handling students and their emotional or psychological needs than a theoretical course can offer. A major part of school teaching involves compassion and a spirit of inclusiveness. Not all lessons of life can be imparted through textbooks and theory. We only hope to have a far more compassionate and kind society with a broader mind by the end of 2030. In our perspective, the NEP should aim at unburdening teachers and providing them with a positive atmosphere for professional growth and work-life balance and that can happen only when teachers are viewed not just as peripheral providers and facilitators but as organic-holistic limbs of the Indian Education System, just as much as students are; that is the only way the NEP can roll out to its full potential for both students and teachers because only well armed, knowledgable and happy teachers are capable of creating a generation of formidable citizens both within and outside the classroom.