What NEP holds for teachers

We can begin by looking at the quality of teacher education. Are our teachers prepared to teach our students the skills of the 21st century?
Last Updated 06 April 2023, 21:32 IST

Teachers play a pivotal role in driving educational reforms, as they are responsible for implementing interventions, innovations, and policies. As they shape the minds of the next generation, the transformation of our education system depends on the skills and qualities of our educators. In order to improve the quality of teaching and learning, it is essential to create a focused action plan for teachers at every level.

We can begin by looking at the quality of teacher education. Are our teachers prepared to teach our students the skills of the 21st century? Are we offering them the education and training required to develop their skills and capabilities? Many of the existing institutions of teacher education struggle to offer the required level of rigour due to resource constraints.

Acquiring a skill cannot be achieved solely by reading a book; it has to be practiced and refined over a period of time. Taking this into account, the New Education Policy has proposed a reform to the existing teacher education model with the introduction of 4-year integrated BEd programmes. This programme integrates a BA or a BSc degree with BEd degrees to create a dual-major bachelor’s degree and offers other entry points to the educator profession.

Prospective teachers will now have to focus on subject matter and pedagogical expertise by undertaking student teaching in the higher education institute’s government or private school network. Teaching now demands more than just a degree; it involves having the critical knowledge and skills required to deliver a quality education effectively.

Who is a teacher? Is it anyone who possesses subject knowledge? We need stringent recruitment and screening processes to identify individuals with a passion for teaching and a willingness to improve their skills and content knowledge. The NEP 2020 also recommends strengthening the recruitment process by including a live teacher demonstration and re-evaluating the test material for Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) for content, pedagogy, and all stages of student learning—foundational, preparatory, middle, and secondary.

NEP recognises the importance of skilled teachers at every level and offers a career growth plan for teachers within the education system. Teachers will continue to retain mobility and move through the stages based on their proficiency and expertise, and these include the beginner teacher, proficient teacher, expert teacher, and lead teacher career stages. This shift is imperative to providing exceptional learning experiences by incorporating relevant pedagogy for all students.

Continuous learning is crucial to sustaining changes, and the NEP requires all teachers to undergo 50 hours of ongoing professional development through regional, local, and national workshops. Additionally, the NEP proposes the need for leveraging technology in advancing professional development for teachers. Teachers need to intentionally learn and upskill themselves to keep up with the rapidly changing world; this is what we expect from doctors, lawyers, and business leaders, and we must hold the same expectation for our teachers.

NEP 2020 holds enormous potential for teachers, the largest catalysts for change in India. By suggesting interventions at each juncture of a teacher’s lifecycle, the NEP recognises the pivotal role played by teachers in the education system and makes proposals on teacher education, recruitment, career progression, and continuous professional development.

These measures must be implemented effectively and efficiently across our states and union territories with the support of all key stakeholders; only then will we be able to equip the Indian Education System and our children to meet the needs of the 21st century.

(The writer is the founder, Ekya Schools and Provost, CMR University.)

(Published 06 April 2023, 17:22 IST)

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