The Kothari Commission framed the National Education Policy in 1966. It said, “Of all the factors that influence the quality of education and its contribution to national development, the quality, competence, and character of our teachers are undoubtedly the most significant.” Fifty-six years later, their viewpoint still holds true, and the future of our nation still lies in the hands of our teachers.
In 2020, the Ministry of Human Resource Development introduced the NEP or the New Education Policy. The new education policy 2020 promises to bring about several sweeping reforms to update and modernize the Indian education system. Some of the most welcome changes among these are concerning teachers.
NEP 2020 holds dismal conditions of teacher education, recruitment, deployment, and service conditions responsible for the lack of teaching quality and motivation among Indian teachers. The policy emphasizes the importance of high-quality teacher education. It aims to initiate several systemic reforms to encourage bright and talented young minds to take up the teaching profession.
NEP 2020: Integrated Teacher Education Programme
From January 2022, forty-five institutions across India will begin to offer a four-year Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP) specially designed for school teachers. The course integrates BA and BSc degrees with B.Ed. to create a dual-major bachelor’s program to help candidates save one year for those who aspire to be teachers. Compared to the current scenario wherein applicants must devote five years to graduation and B.Ed. before beginning their career as teachers, the ITEP offers a great advantage to the candidates.
The NEP 2020 states that from 2030 onwards, teacher recruitment will be purely based on ITEP. Admissions for this course will be based on scores in the National Common Entrance Test or NCET. The course is offered by forty-five multidisciplinary institutions across India.
Here are some of the crucial reforms brought about by NEP for teacher education –
- Pre-Service Teacher Education – The NEP 2020 recommends drafting a National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education or NCFTE 2021 to guide pre-service teacher education and training. The NCFTE will prescribe the best pre-service and in-service education/training practices for teachers working in academic, vocational, and other unique education streams.
- Teacher Recruitment & Employment – For recruitment in a private or government school, the teacher must qualify through Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) conducted by the National Testing Agency. NEP 2020 encourages schools to deal with a shortage of teachers by sharing teachers across campuses, especially for disciplines such as art, craft, music, and dance. The policy also recommends reaching out to local eminent persons or experts as ‘master instructors’ in traditional arts.
- Teaching Career & Professionalism – The NEP aims to set the National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) to determine all aspects of teacher career management, efforts for professional development, salary hikes, etc. Teacher audits and professional appraisals are also an essential part of NEP for teachers.NCERT will undertake an in-depth study of international pedagogical approaches and integrate their findings into the CPD programs for NEP teacher training. Teacher education in NEP 2020 entails a prescribed number of hours for continuous professional development or CPD each year.
- Enculturation of Teacher Empowerment – The policy defines the essential role of teachers in NEP 2020. Teachers are to be given the right to participate in setting school goals and policies in the long run. Involving teachers in the reform process by giving them the freedom to decide what and how to teach will provide them with space and ownership over their work. The critical aspect of teacher autonomy is deemed to empower teachers and motivate them to perform better.The policy also aims to recognize, document, and share innovative pedagogies and teaching methods devised by Indian teachers. And finally, under the enculturation of teacher empowerment, NEP will also work to build vibrant teacher communities for better networking and reducing isolation among teachers.
Considering the lacklustre efforts to improve the working conditions and remunerations for teachers in the past, the NEP 2020 for teachers has come as a welcome change. Steps for pre-service teacher education and in-service NEP teacher training programs can help build a better learning experience for students everywhere. If implemented well, the education sector is likely to become a lucrative career option for talented young people in the next few years.