Teacher educators in the contemporary society need to end the sole emphasis on academic achievements. They should rather be continuous learners and improve quality of our education system and that of student learning. This calls for certain competencies among teachers that would help them to constantly innovate and adapt to the changing times and develop a critical evidence-based attitude to respond to students. The present paper interrogates how far our teachers are equipped with the competencies that are needed in the contemporary society and how far are our teacher training institutions sensitive to the needs of the changing societies.
Key Words: Quality, Teacher Education, Teacher Competencies
While the world is becoming a global society, the present scenario of teaching and learning is changed. There is high access of students to information as well as knowledge and influence of different Medias. Hence, professional preparation of teachers and its effectiveness needs to be understood, keeping in view the several perspectives of the present scenario of the society. The quality of teacher education not only depends on professionally sound and relevant curriculum, but also on the way the curriculum is implemented in Teacher Education Institutions. This, in turn, depends on the proficiency of the faculty and quality of infrastructure and instruction in the institutions. Today, the teachers have deal with multicultural classrooms, integrate students with special needs, use ICT, engage in evaluation and accountability processes, and involve parents in schools (OECD, 2009). Today Indian government’s major initiative is to bring quality and excellence at all levels of education. While the immediate focus must be to make the teacher education institutions strong enough to develop quality professionals. The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has taken several steps to improve teacher quality, but there is still a dearth of quality and competencies in the present day teachers. Indian education sector need to bring a change in the education model. The chairman of the NCTE stated that, “India needs to focus on an output-driven education model rather than input-based system to improve quality”. We are still following British system of education in our teacher education institutions and so they are found to be static and stagnant. Unfortunately our teacher education institutes are unable to keep pace with time adopting necessary modification in its conceptual based theory and practices (Yadavetal, 2011). Thus, the present paper discusses the existing policies, current status and challenges facing teacher training institutions and the teacher competencies needed in creating Digital Culture in the teacher training institutions as per the needs of the changing societies.
The Teacher Education Policies in India are considered to be hind sighted as it overlooks the central role of teachers and teacher education in ensuring quality education, this creates hindrances in the path of needed development. (Sindhi.S & Shah.A 2013). The policy formulations that were formulated by different commissions and committees emphasized on the need for teacher education to be brought into the mainstream of the academic life of the Universities on the one hand and of school life and educational developments on the other” (Kothari Commission, 1964-66). The National Policy of Education (NPE 1986/92) recognized that “…teachers should have the freedom to innovate, to devise appropriate methods of communication and activities relevant to the needs of and capabilities of and the concerns of the community.” The policy further states that “…teacher education is a continuous process, and its preservice and in-service components are inseparable. As the first step, the system of teacher education will be overhauled.” The Acharya Ramamurti Committee (1990) in its review of the NPE 1986 observed that an internship model for teacher training should be adopted because “…the internship model is firmly based on the primary value of actual field experience in a realistic situation, on the development of teaching skills by practice over a period of time.” Commenting on how the inadequacy of programmes of teacher preparation lead to unsatisfactory quality of learning in schools, the Yashpal Committee Report (1993) recommended that “…the content of the (teacher preparation) programme should be restructured to ensure its relevance to the changing needs of school education. The emphasis in these programmes should be on enabling the trainees to acquire the ability for self learning and independent thinking.” The Report by NCERT (August, 2009) on Comprehensive Evaluation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education has set a reform agenda to utilize all possible kinds of institutions, including university departments of education and teacher training institutions in the private sector, for in-service training of the existing cadre at all levels, in addition to State institutions, including CTEs. The Bordia Committee report, entitled “Implementation of RTE Act and Resultant Revamp of SSA” (2010) pointed on holistic view of education, Equity, Access, Gender concern, implying Centrality of teacher, Moral compulsion Convergent and integrated system of educational management. The RTE Act mandates the Government the need to invest in quality schools — through adequate and child friendly infrastructure, curriculum and school practices. Thus all the recommendations made by various commissions and committees teacher education, from time to time, were implemented by the Government of India.
Current Scenario of Teacher Education in India
At present there are about 15,000 institutes of teacher training in India. The courses offered in teacher training institutions in India are; Bachelor of Education, Masters in Education, Bachelor of Elementary Education, Masters of Elementary Education, and Diploma in Teacher education. The teacher education programmes in India to a large extent follow the traditional approaches; they still lack to introduce new technological innovations for transacting education. A sizeable number of teacher education institutions have been found lacking facilities, such as, Internet, hardware and software (Goel, 2005, MSU). A few studies conducted on the use of Internet in Teacher Education Institutions revealed that the student teachers largely lack in info savvy skills and techno-pedagogic skills (Joshi, 1999, MSU; Dhodi, 2005, MSU). There is a need of technological revolution in teacher education, as in the students have an access to easy online information for knowledge and learning, it is therefore important to take stock of what we know about the impact of digital technology on education from what we have learned till yet. Though there are proposals for e-teacher education, smart classrooms, digital lesson designs-Portfolios and a wide scope for transformation of teacher education through technology, the inputs provided to student teachers in the teacher training institutions are traditional in nature and as per the Indian classroom situations, the curriculum lack the global perspective. While the present new age of modern technologies requires teachers to have deep subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge and the knowledge of new technologies applied to subject teaching (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Therefore a paradigm shift is necessary in teacher training program from a new technology development perspective, and teachers must be prepared to handle the Intercultural classrooms. Thus, there is an urgent need for the teacher education programs to reorient it and come out with new plans of teacher education to meet the needs of student’s modern society.
There is a natural increase in enrollment rates and thereby demands for teachers due to education development programs like; the DPEP, SSA, OBB and RMSA. These programs have led to unprecedented expansion of teacher education institutions in India. But along with this expansion there are various challenges too. The SCERTs, DIETs, IASEs and CTEs, the BRCs and CRCs face the challenge of lack of qualified teachers (as per the requirements of the RTE Act), reforming curricula teacher education, regulating and improving quality of teacher education, support equity and encourage community involvement, developing the professionalism and capacity of teacher educators, developing inter-linkages across departments and institutions engaged in teacher education and teacher training. All these challenges are closely associated with sub-standard institutions of teacher education, gross malpractices and insufficient support systems. Although lot of planning and resources has been spent for improving the quality of teacher education and new technologies have been introduced in the field of education still our teacher-education could not realize its objective fully. It could not rise up to the expected level and is still behind in realizing its purpose. At present the demand for teachers exceeds supply in the system of education, leading to a huge swell in the teacher training institutions and decline in quality. It therefore needs urgent and comprehensive reforms that must keep in mind the needs of the lifelong learning societies. Where the shift is from teacher dominated classes to digital generations, there are virtual and multicultural classrooms, multilingual pedagogy, multiple approaches and methods of teaching.
Our teachers today lack the competences to constantly innovate and adapt; this include having critical, evidence-based attitudes, adapting digital teaching strategies and making efforts to facilitate digital curating culture. Teachers must realize their changed role in the school management Teaching competences are focused on the role of the teacher in the classroom, directly linked with the 'craft' of teaching - with professional knowledge and skills mobilized for action (Hagger & McIntyre, 2006). There is a need for continuous professional development of teachers in digital teaching strategies for the technologies that can change the contemporary digital divide and dismal landscape in Indian Education. Thus, Digital India can only be accompanied by digital education that too at micro level. However, the multidimensional, uncertain nature of teaching involves a wide range of activities, settings and actors.
In the contemporary times expectations from the teacher education institutions have increased, they are expected to engage more closely with schools and design programmes to transform novice and experienced teachers into competent teachers. The teacher education institutes must therefore take up the charge of educating policy makers about the terms of knowledge and skills that are needed and in terms of the school contexts. Teachers are expected to be professionally powerful and are expected to acquire knowledge and skills to meet with the changing standard of education. Thus In the contemporary times, the participatory model is feasible, teachers must be self-directed and self-taught. Every aspect of the training must be based on reflection and introspection. The needs, problems, statuses and roles must be clearly defined, examined and analysed by them. The actual concrete experiences of working with students should be emphasized. Teachers must be able to collectively examine and analyse their consequences, assisted by the tratrainers in solving problems (Akinpelu, 1998; Akyeampong, 2003). The teacher training institutions focus on the power of technology for both teachers and students learning. While the focus of the schools is on raising the learning achievement levels of students, the schools must be ascertain that the teachers are able to install all the competences necessary to be effective in the classrooms. The necessity is to establish effective systems for capacity building of new teachers and in service teachers at different stages of their career. The final purpose of teacher education must be to enable all teachers to develop their competences, stimulating teachers’ engagement in career-long learning, assessing the development of teachers’ competences, and providing appropriate and relevant learning opportunities for all teachers.
Therefore it is obvious that the teacher education institutions are capable to create different teaching learning strategies, create digital tools and resources, form digital teachers club and enhance online work culture. This will help teachers to handle multicultural classrooms and educational institutions to deal with the varied demands of students from different cultures and languages and balance such multicultural classrooms effectively. The new age demands institutions to be prepared to meet the challenge of technology aided education, therefore it will not be wrong to say that there is a need of developing the technology related competencies among the teacher trainers. The above discussion bring forth the fact that in the changing times and global effect, teacher training institutions must be directed towards empowering prospective teachers to focus on evolving and devising programmes and activities for physical, psychomotor, cognitive, emotional and other aspects of development.
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