The National Education Policy is bold and the shift it sees in the system needs change in role of teachers at the base, says Saraswathy Ramamoorthy
The National Educaion Policy (NEP) 2020 is bold and audacious, no doubt. Its success will determine the path education takes in India. The paradigm shift in education envisioned by the NEP requires large-scale overhaul of our educational system. But any overhaul must begin at the base and in education, that is the teacher. The role of the teacher is instrumental, to say the least, not just at the primary level but at all levels.
India is already facing a dismal dearth of well-trained teachers. While the NEP aims to take a holistic approach to address poor teaching quality with a slew of changes in pedagogy and recruitment, there are certain elements in teacher training that must be addressed to guarantee success.
Teaching teachers how to teach: According to IndiaSpend 2019 reports, after five years of schooling, just over half (51%) of students aged 10-11 years in India can read a grade II-level text (appropriate for 7-8 year olds). This throws light on the poor teaching skills. The NEP emphasizes a holistic approach that will focus on students' understanding of the practical implementation of a subject using critical and innovative thinking.
In order to impart such skills, teachers first need to be trained on teaching pedagogy itself. From stepping away from chalk-and-talk to adopting activity-based teaching, teachers need to be trained on multiple, diverse strategies to engage students, teach effectively, and assess holistically. This is the crux of success.
Incorporating teacher feedback into training programmes: According to NEP 2020, a National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education will be drafted to guide all teacher education, pre-service and in-service, in academic, vocational and special education streams. While this is good, it is important for NEP to collect and inculcate feedback from teachers to develop a training pedagogy that is relevant and meaningful to them. Teachers in different parts of India face a varied set of problems.
Thus, the training should be devised to address the cultural, geographical and economic diversity of our country. What works for one teacher will not necessarily work for another. A one-size-fits-all, integrated B.Ed program cannot be the answer.
Ongoing professional development through a blended model: There has been a seismic shift in the education industry this year as it leaped into the digital arena. Classrooms will never be the same after the coronavirus crisis. As online learning and teaching continue to evolve, changes will be constant in the education space, too.
Thus, the training given to teachers needs to be an ongoing one that reacts to and complements the situation on the ground. How are teachers handling online teaching? How are students reacting? What needs to change? A technology-enabled platform that allows training to become continuous and measurable and also makes real-time metrics on student engagement available is essential.
The NEP is a visionary policy aiming to bring much-awaited, holistic changes in the teaching industry. Emphasis on teacher training will guarantee its success. How this will be achieved will be the litmus test.