“No nation can rise above the level of its teachers”.
Teachers are critical to ensuring the quality of education, it is particularly important to lay down well-defined but flexible norms for the minimum qualifications of teachers. The model bill has no specification of a teacher, or the qualifications and in-service training needed for the position. A teacher is only defined as a person who teaches in the classroom. It is necessary to specify norms for teacher qualification and training.
There is an urgent need to revamp teacher training at all levels and promote development of teaching aids to retain student attention in classrooms (K C).
The professional preparation of teachers is the basis of quality education and the achievement of successful schooling is crucially dependent on the quality of teaching workforce‟. (Husen et al, 2003). Teacher quality is central to improvement in learning outcomes of students. Teacher education – both pre-service and in-service – is responsible for developing quality-teaching work force. Pre-service and in-service education of teachers is considered to be key aspect of school improvement efforts. The training, retraining and updating of practicing teachers are widely recognized as essential factors in the development of teachers quality.
It has been observed that the quality of our pre-service as well as in-service teacher education is low. It does not equip prospective teachers and practising teachers with requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes to perform effectively in their work situation. This is a matter of serious concern and calls for a drastic and urgent revision in the existing policies and practices regarding recruitment, training and retention of teachers based on well tried out programme of innovation, experimentation and research.
Teacher Education has been grossly commercialized without any regard for the quality it provides and the need of the hour is to revamp it for producing professionally trained teachers, fully equipped with high academic standards, pedagogical practical skills, ethical and moral values.
Improving the quality and motivation of teachers has to be given top most priority. Some of the areas in which steps have to be taken include:
• Recruitment: Better screening to get better teachers
• Better deal for teachers for maintaining teacher motivation
• Competency based teacher training
• Initial Education: Have better linkage between universities and teacher training institutes for elementary , secondary and senior secondary schools
• Teacher Educators/ Master Trainers: Provision of special training for teacher educators/ master trainers/ resource persons so that they can fully play their role in updating and renewal of educational practices
• Supervision: For checking performance of teachers and also maintain a dialogue with them concerning developments in knowledge methods and sources of information
“There is a danger that the next divide will be between those who have a global outlook and an international language and those who do not.”
Curriculum reform is central to all reforms needed to improve the quality of education at different stages. Curriculum is “served and shaped by philosophical, sociological, cultural, pedagogical and human considerations and contexts.” Curriculum review/renewal has to be a continuous process and therefore an area of priority for all times to come. We are in the nineteenth year of the twenty-first century witnessing far reaching changes in human lives all over the globe. We are witnessing unprecedented changes and continuing advancement in information and communications technology; mobile telephony; computerization and internet boom giving rise to a new knowledge society and knowledge based workforce. We are witnessing biotechnology bringing a new wave of revolutionary changes and developments in agriculture, industry, regenerative medicine and pharmaceutical drugs going beyond the era of antibiotics of twentieth century. An altogether “new and full-scale science of genomics has taken birth. Human genomics has already identified and sequenced some 3.2 billion biochemical letters that determine the genetic structure of an individual human being which influence human health, educational potential, hereditary traits and the like. Similarly, space technology, robotics, technology of transport, medical technology and numerous such developments are producing profound influence on human life, and therefore on education , in many and varied ways.
We cannot afford to be oblivious to these developments. We, indeed, need to revise and update the existing educational curricula to respond to these profound and multifaceted changes occurring in the world today. Our curriculum reform has to conform to: issues in contemporary society, economic concerns, social inclusion, human resource development; sustainable development in emerging knowledge society, impacts of ICT, preservation of cultural traditions, and impacts of globalization.
The entire Curriculum needs to be woven around Physical, Intellectual/Mental, Social, Economic, Civic, Cultural, Ethical and Spiritual aspects of human development and hence should have following dimensions:
• Broad areas of learning,
• Cross-curricular competencies and
• Subject areas.
Basis of curriculum
Four Pillars as advocated in Delor report namely:
• Learning to Learn;
• Learning to Do ;
• learning to Be and
• Learning to Live Together
• Impact of information and communications technology
• Globalization of economies
• Reliance on international markets – entrepreneurs and workers will need to have a global outlook and international competence
• Increased concern about environmental degradation, water and energy shortages, global warming, pandemics (e.g. AIDS and Avian Flu) – the globalisation of environmental concerns will require international cooperation for global solutions and citizens with a sound knowledge of local and international environmental issues and an openness to changing consumer and other habits in the interests of global sustainability
• Insecurity of nations and competing power blocs – citizens will need to be able to engage with national and international issues of security, understand the need to build alliances, understand the factors that generate conflict and mistrust between nations
New Learning Areas (Frontline Curriculum)
Frontline areas of learning constitute a practicable mechanism to maintain and optimize curricular relevance in the present era of recurrent explosion and concurrent obsolescence of knowledge, techniques, skills and occupations. The new areas include:
• ICT as a learning area and as a tool for learning
• Legal Education
• Space technology/Exploration
• Genetics and Genetic Engineering
• Comprehensive Health Promotion and Care
• HIV/AIDS Preventive Education
• Education for Sustainable Development
• Conflict Management/Resolution
• Consumer/Entrepreneurial Education
• Prosumerism (Professional Consumerism)