Value your teachers and invest in them

On the occasion of India's Teachers' Day, I cannot help reminiscing about the teachers who influenced me so profoundly and salute the efforts of teachers who spend their entire working career, supporting and ensuring that each child is provided opportunities that support her optimal development.

Undoubtedly, teachers remain at the heart of school reform and teacher professional development poses huge challenges as India aims to achieve Millennium  Development Goal 2 and implements the Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

A key concern is that out of a total of 785,227 qualified teachers who sat for the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) -  introduced in 2011, less than 7% teachers passed the exam, in spite of having gained a professional teaching qualification such as a DEd or BEd. Serious concerns have therefore been raised regarding functioning of teacher education institutes by the Justice Verma Commission Report (2012) that stated

"preparation of teacher education has remained a weak link in ensuring the quality of pre-service teacher education; and, therefore, the issue of the profile of a teacher educator should receive due attention, transcending the existing thinking on the subject".

The new expectations related to teachers' effectiveness must inevitably generate new paradigms and implications for teacher education and policy makers must reconceptualise and redesign both pre-service and continuous professional development of teacher training. We cannot expect teachers to be effective in such a complex and changing environment unless the aims, content, process, methodology, as well as the culture of teacher education undergoes a  paradigm shift. Only then will the dream envisioned in the National Policy of Education, 1986 be realised - teachers should have the freedom to innovate, to devise appropriate methods of communication and activities relevant to the needs and capabilities of and the concerns of the community (NPE, 1986:25).

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The central and state governments need to endeavour to create conditions which will help motivate and inspire teachers on constructive and creative lines by developing and enforcing professional standards and revising pre-service and in-service training as well as the Teacher Eligibility Test to ensure that teachers have  the content pedagogical knowledge as well as values and attributes required to address learning needs of all children.

The key findings of our research on quality teaching show that

  • students whose teachers had a diploma, degree or Masters in Education scored on average 5% more on our Grade 5 Maths tests than children whose teachers had only secondary or senior secondary education themselves.
  • there was no difference between teachers who had a professional education qualification and those with general BA or MA degrees.
  • students whose teachers lived in same village or district as their school scored 5% more than students of teachers who lived outside the block or mandal.
  • students whose teachers regularly corrected their books scored 3.5% more in Maths tests.
  • teachers who feel positively about their schools and believe they are better or same as other schools had almost twice the effect size (9.5 percentage points) on student scores, than teachers with education qualifications.