Mandatory Test for Teacher Eligibility

The Right to Education Act stipulates that there be a test to gauge the abilities of teachers. This week saw some clarification of what to expect from the Test which is being developed by NCTE.

Sify News Article

Today I consciously spent some hours seeing ‘the other extreme’ of Indian education. Travelling for only an hour out of Gurgaon I was taken on a tour of a number of government schools. They weren’t expecting the visit so no special arrangements had been made – this was reality not dressed up or doctored. In at least three of the schools we witnessed the low level brutality that still passes for education today (even by the head Master in one case). If you were to question these teachers they would swear that there is willfulness in the children that necessitates some corporal punishment.

Children were memorizing from their books, rocking backwards and forward. In most of the schools the lessons were being taken outdoors, the classrooms being dark and cold. In all the places there were almost as many children seen outside the school and around the village as there were in the schools. Clearly the RTE has a long way to go to get every child in to school.

Most of the schools had at least one classroom that was not usable because it was stacked to the ceiling with ‘broken’ desks and other furniture. Only in one had the headmaster been enterprising enough to get them repaired by a local carpenter – the cost, just Rs120 per desk/ chair for the wood and labour!

When people try to get their heads around what needs to happen to ensure that each and every child in the country has access to a high quality education it’s easy to fall prey to a sense of overwhelm. That’s why, I believe, the RTE drafters lost their nerve. They ‘settled’ for an attempt to solve the quantity issue and barely mentioned the quality issue. However, this may prove in the long term to be the fatal flaw. If the quality issues aren’t addressed then there will always be children and parents who will ask, “Why bother”. “Because the government says we have to” will never be enough of an answer for everyone.

Ultimately, the quality lies in the hands of each teacher, each hour in each classroom. The question is – can you really test for that?

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One Response

  1. I am wholly in agreement that quality needs to be addressed with fundamental changes in school environment, facilitative school leadership and management to create a culture of learning and acceptable working conditions for teachers. I do believe, however, that teachers’ subject mastery and a deep understanding of pedagogy and of how children learn are necessary conditions for “quality”. Whether the mandated test would assess teachers’ knowledge, attitude and skills effectively is perhaps questionable. We must hope that the powers that be will bring in experts to support the development of effective tests along with professional development plans to help teachers address areas that need strengthening.

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