Prakash Javadekar announced that his Union human resource development ministry would set up a committee to “suggest and strengthen teachers’ in-service training”. In-service training involves short-term courses to help teachers upgrade skills, refresh their knowledge, learn new approaches to teaching or address the immediate concerns they may face in class.
Javadekar said the decision was prompted by the discouraging findings of the National Achievement Survey, India’s largest test for assessing schoolchildren’s learning, conducted in November.
In August, the government amended the Right to Education Act to extend the deadline for ensuring all appointed teachers acquire professional qualification by 2019. The original deadline, set in 2009 when the law was passed, was 2015. Not only does the amendment allow untrained teachers – numbering about 11 lakh by the minister’s estimate – more time to acquire professional qualification, it also makes it easier. The teachers can take an online course run by the autonomous National Institute of Open Schooling through the government’s online learning portal Swayam and collect a “diploma in elementary education” or DElEd after 18 months. Alongside, they can watch the relevant programmes on Swayam Prabha television channels and attend occasional “personal contact programme” classes.
But 11 lakh teachers have entered classrooms without this foundational training, and instead of receiving updated professional training they have relied on conventional guidance from the previous generation of teachers. As Raushan explained, senior teachers in his school guided his classes and paper marking strategies. The online training he is receiving now is unlikely to equip him with more than a certificate of qualification.