EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Provide better teacher training
S. Kumar

TEACHER education faces a dilemma, which has neither been seriously addressed nor tackled with a sense of urgency. The crucial role of teacher education has not been appreciated in determining the quality and quantity of teachers. As a result, the universalisation of elementary education and the number of dropouts are posing a grave challenge to the planners and administrators despite huge expenditure being incurred under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

HP secures top spot in region
Chitleen K. Sethi
ONCE again, Himachal Pradesh has secured the top spot in the region in school education. According to the Fourth Annual Status of Education Report (ASER-2008), about 71 per cent Class III students of Himachal Pradesh could read short paragraphs in Hindi, whereas in Haryana, 57 per cent of the students could read Hindi. In Punjab, Class III students were tested for reading short paragraphs in Punjabi and only 49 per cent could do it.

Indian and Chinese-origin pupils outdoing white classmates in UK schools
LONDON: Indian—and Chinese—origin students are outdoing many white children in UK schools because their families place more value on education, according to a key Government adviser. Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted, says that children of ethnic minority populations in the country are making better progress, while white working-class boys are struggling in schools. He thinks that the reason for such a divide is because working-class parents failed to place the same value on education as their ethnic minority counterparts.

Assess students fairly
Dalip Kumar Khetarpal
Deterioration in education has become so pronounced that only empty rhetoric have come to constitute the soul of our educational system. The sensibilities of intellectuals and scholars even of ‘great’ universities have become so hardened that manipulation in any area of education is simply deemed as a routine line of conduct. We are unfazed by witnessing a candidate securing a first division in Master’s in English, though he may not be able to write even simple sentences in English. Ironically, he is also the man who subsequently, with the passage of time, becomes a teacher. Such a deplorable state of affairs is, however, vividly discernible in every branch of knowledge.

Campus Notes
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Book exhibition held
A three-day book exhibition was held at Guru Nanak Bhawan of the university recently. Dr H.S. Chopra, head, Bhai Gurdas Library, said more than 20 publishers and booksellers of national and international repute had displayed their books on various subjects.





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Provide better teacher training
S. Kumar

TEACHER education faces a dilemma, which has neither been seriously addressed nor tackled with a sense of urgency. The crucial role of teacher education has not been appreciated in determining the quality and quantity of teachers. As a result, the universalisation of elementary education and the number of dropouts are posing a grave challenge to the planners and administrators despite huge expenditure being incurred under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

In Haryana alone, there are about 70 institutions, which claim to ‘train’ teachers for elementary education. All the 19 District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), which unfortunately do not work as conceptualised in the NPE, 1986, have come to stay merely as pre-service education centres, while two government elementary teacher training institutes carry the privilege of preparing 200 elementary teachers each. About 50 self-financing teachers training institutes in the private sector produce 50 trained teachers each every year. It brings the annual production of teachers to 6,700. It may be interesting to find that this number relates well to the requirement of trained teachers in schools in the state. There were 38,241 sanctioned posts of JBT (elementary) teachers in the year 2006-07 in Haryana. The attrition rate (due to retirement etc.) at 1 per cent of the posts creates the annual need of 382 teachers. Normally, 200 schools are opened/upgraded each year. The requirement of new teachers for these schools comes to 1,000 keeping in view a standard norm of 5 teachers per school. The total demand of elementary teachers, therefore, comes to 1,400 teachers per annum. Making allowance for non-government institutions, there is supposed to be another demand of 500 teachers. The total demand in the state, therefore, does not exceed 1,900 (say 2,000) each year. It clearly indicates a surplus production of 5,000 JBT teachers per year. It adversely affects not only the respectable employability of such a large number of teachers resulting in acute frustration and repressive reaction in many forms but also the quality of education.

It is learnt that no private agency requires a no-objection certificate from the state government to start a teachers’ training institution. The only requirement is recognition by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE). The NCTE, a prime national agency responsible for maintaining the standard of teachers’ education in the country, plays a dominant role in exercising its authority to give its nod to start a teachers’ education institution. The functioning of a teachers’ education institution, however, reveals a poor quality of teacher education programmes in theory and practice.

There is need to improve upon the working of the inspection committee teams under the aegis of NCTE. The norms, set up by the NCTE, are hardly adhered to. There appears a need to constitute an institution, as a subsidiary agency of the NCTE, on the pattern of NAAC for colleges, to visit every teachers’ education institute at least once in three years to give them star awards. There should also be surprise inspections. The panel for such inspections should include officers from the state education department and some educationists of repute and integrity. The syllabus should be uniform throughout the country giving a leverage of 20 per cent to the states. It has to be ensured that the faculty members in teachers’ education institutions should be handsomely paid and should not possess less than postgraduate academic and professional qualifications.

Nobody doubts the sincerity of the government in significantly enhancing outlays for education sector, but the enabling regulatory framework will continue to stymie desired outcomes. Let the crucial advantage for teachers’ education be not mired in the bureaucratic politics of the government. The NCTE and the states should contemplate upon reforming teacher education against the global perspective and the changing needs of society before it is too late. The quality teacher education programme can alone ensure quality education, which is the need of the hour.

The writer is former director, Bharat Scouts and Guides, Chandigarh

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HP secures top spot in region
Chitleen K. Sethi

ONCE again, Himachal Pradesh has secured the top spot in the region in school education. According to the Fourth Annual Status of Education Report (ASER-2008), about 71 per cent Class III students of Himachal Pradesh could read short paragraphs in Hindi, whereas in Haryana, 57 per cent of the students could read Hindi. In Punjab, Class III students were tested for reading short paragraphs in Punjabi and only 49 per cent could do it.

In the early years of schooling, however, about 80 per cent students could read letters in all three states. This means that students of Punjab and Haryana have a good start to elementary education but their edge is lost in later years of schooling.

In Maths, Himchal Pradesh is again significantly ahead: 60 per cent students in Class V could solve three-digit division problems and about the same proportion could do subtraction problems in Class III. However, in Punjab, both skill levels hovered around 43 per cent. In Haryana, about half the children could subtract in Class III and divide in Class V.

While Himchal Pradesh is ahead of both Punjab and Haryana in terms of learning levels, children from this state are not matching up to educational expectations. One in four children in Class V cannot read a text of Class II-level difficulty. Similarly, over one-third of the children in Class V cannot solve mathematics problems introduced in Class III. The situation in Punjab and Haryana is worse.

These poor learning levels are despite the fact that the percentage of children not going to school has been reducing over the past three years in the region. While nationally, 4.3 per cent children are out of school, the figure is well below 3 per cent in Punjab and Haryana.

There are virtually no out-of-school children in Himachal Pradesh, as 75 per cent children go to government schools and over 24 per cent children go to private schools. In Punjab and Haryana, around 40 per cent students attend private schools. While private schools in all three states perform better than government schools, the difference is minor.

Comparing districts across the region, Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh stands out on top with nearly 93 per cent students of Classes III to V being able to read a short text, while Taran Taran in Punjab is the lowest at 53 per cent. Kurukshetra in Haryana is also among the worst districts, with only 54.2 per cent students of Classes III and V were able to read a short text. Analysing the same parameter, in Punjab, Hoshiarpur and Mohali (SAS Nagar) are the top districts, while in Haryana, Bhiwani is the best performing district.

The report also gauged children’s ability to tell time and do simple currency tasks. When given two sets of currency notes and coins, around 30 per cent children in all three states were not able to determine which set was more valuable. Ability to tell time is even lower: only a little over half the children could tell time on an image of an analogue clock.

ASER is based on data gathered from over 30,000 rural households of the region. Facilitated by Pratham, this survey is carried out by trained volunteers.

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Indian and Chinese-origin pupils outdoing white classmates in UK schools

LONDON: Indian—and Chinese—origin students are outdoing many white children in UK schools because their families place more value on education, according to a key Government adviser. Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted, says that children of ethnic minority populations in the country are making better progress, while white working-class boys are struggling in schools. He thinks that the reason for such a divide is because working-class parents failed to place the same value on education as their ethnic minority counterparts.

Thus, poor white children have low expectations of what they can achieve, leading to lack of effort and low results. “We are seeing every ethnic group progress rapidly —Chinese, Bengali, Indian,” the Telegraph quoted Tomlinson as saying.

“The results that are being achieved are higher and this has improved the numbers applying to university and entering professions such as medicine, veterinary science, law and accountancy.

“A very high value is placed on education among many ethnic groups, compared with white working-class families. There seems to be different value systems at work,” he added.

Tomlinson’s controversial comments may raise questions about the focus of Government funding.

Some critics have argued that funding allotted for ethnic minority pupils should be redirected. —ANI

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Assess students fairly
Dalip Kumar Khetarpal

Deterioration in education has become so pronounced that only empty rhetoric have come to constitute the soul of our educational system. The sensibilities of intellectuals and scholars even of ‘great’ universities have become so hardened that manipulation in any area of education is simply deemed as a routine line of conduct. We are unfazed by witnessing a candidate securing a first division in Master’s in English, though he may not be able to write even simple sentences in English. Ironically, he is also the man who subsequently, with the passage of time, becomes a teacher. Such a deplorable state of affairs is, however, vividly discernible in every branch of knowledge.

Leave alone the shady deals struck in concealment, the unethical way in which internal assessment is being done by academicians breeds contempt and highlights erosion of credibility and loss of faith in the system. Tempted by high undeserving assessment, students perform various odd jobs assigned by their teachers. They are psychologically coerced to be in the good books of their teachers, lest their marks be low. Some manage to secure high marks through cajolery and adulation thereby improving their overall division and putting better students to a disadvantage.

The system of internal assessment seen in various professional courses was borrowed by India from developed countries. Under this system, the mind of the students is saved from being burdened, since abundant study material is not pushed into their mind at one go. Further, this system also ensures continuous evaluation of the knowledge of students through periodical tests and assignments. This motivates and impels the students to remain in constant touch with their studies. The system being sound and healthy is whole-heartedly endorsed. The system of internal assessment is being misused in India.

Fairness and justice, which are the principles of every educated individual, seem to be lacking among some members of the teaching community. A student who is sure to fare badly in his theory papers still manages to get high marks in the practical, leading to an imbalance between the marks of theory and internal assessment. The sharp contrast between the two becomes pitiable. The deserving but helpless candidate fails to score even a minor point over his incompetent rival. The deserving can do nothing but sulk in solitude. He does not rebel, criticise or publicise the injustice meted out to him, but remains a mute disgruntled spectator.

One broods over the unfair internal assessment and wonders if there are laws forbidding unjust award of marks. One way to reduce the yawning gap between the marks of theory and practical is to form a set of standard criteria so that some balance between the two is maintained. The difference could be between 10 to 20 per cent, but if it is more, then this growing malaise should be completely scrapped from the educational scenario. Being a model of honesty and fair play for students, a teacher should give in to some introspection and soul searching and try his best to dispense justice to students through fair marking. It is only then that a ray of light will fall on this manageable arena of the educational atmosphere.

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Campus Notes
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Book exhibition held

A three-day book exhibition was held at Guru Nanak Bhawan of the university recently. Dr H.S. Chopra, head, Bhai Gurdas Library, said more than 20 publishers and booksellers of national and international repute had displayed their books on various subjects.

Shramdaan camp

A large number of students took part in the cleanliness drive at the Botanical Garden during a shramdaan camp organised by the Society of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of the university recently. Dr Saroj Arora, head, Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences, said a model-making competition on the topic "Solid Waste Management" was also held on the occasion.

— Contributed by P. K. Jaiswar

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Annamalai University, Annamalainagar 608002 (TN)

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Bharathiar University, School of Distance Education, Coimbatore 641046 (TN)
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University of Madras, Institute of Distance Education, Chepauk, Chennai 600005 (TN)
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Pervin Malhotra,
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