Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui
Human resource development has been a concern not only of national bodies but also of international organizations. Teacher quality plays a vital role in ensuring optimum human resource development. The paper highlights the various endeavours made by the Central and State governments to augment the quality of education, teacher preparation and professional development of teachers. It suggests the employment of a number of strategies to address the issue in the field of school education in general and teacher education in particular.
The relevance and significance of Human Resource Development (HRD) for the development of an economy and its people is now very well established across the world and it is widely appreciated by the national governments as well as international agencies and institutions like UNO, ILO, WHO, UNESCO, UNDP, etc. Emphasis on human resource development increased especially due to certain international developments that took place during the last few decades like opening of global markets, increased market orientation of economies and restructuring in socialist countries which have given rise to an increased competition, forcing developing countries to produce and market their products and services at competitive prices. Development of highly competitive abilities and products has been made possible essentially by changing the orientation of the process of education to human resource development which focuses on increased productivity of human resources by linking it closely with technical progress at all levels of work.
Human resource development is the process of enabling people to make things happen. It deals with both: (1) the process of competency development in people (which includes knowledge, skills, attitudes and values); and (2) the
creation of conditions (through public policy, programmes and other interventions) to help people apply these competencies for their own benefit and for that of others (Rao 1996, p.25). Implied in this conceptualization of human resource development are many facets of development of people including their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, moral and all other forms of development. Physical development demands proper health and nutritional care of the learners and specific programmes and public investment for the same. Intellectual development of people comes through the process of education. However, a well thought and rigorously enforced system of education which ensures an all-round and balanced development of individuals and groups remains at the centre of the process of human resource development. The emphasis on education is reinforced (Sen 2000, p. 41) by the pioneering example of enhancing economic growth through social opportunity, especially in basic education, of Japan. It is sometimes forgotten that Japan had a higher rate of literacy than Europe had even at the time of Meiji restoration in the mid-nineteenth century, when industrialization had not occurred there but had gone on for many decades in Europe. Japan’s economic development, stresses Sen, was clearly much helped by the human resource development related to the social opportunities that were generated. The so-called East Asian miracle involving other countries in the East Asia was, to a great extent, based on similar causal connections. These economies went comparatively early for massive expansion of education, and, later also, for health-care.
Human resource development is a never-ending continuous process which is closely linked with the changing needs of the society in various spheres of human activity. Changing societal need patterns which emerge due to the dynamic nature of economic, political and social processes demand that the sets of competencies developed by education systems at one point of time should be updated, reformed and refurbished continually in order to keep the developed human resources continuously relevant and progressively engaged in the development process. This point has been well stressed in the Report of the UNESCO’s International Commission on Education for the 21st Century (Delors 1996, p. 111) which argues that in future the workers will have to learn and re-learn new skill sets continually as the already learnt skill sets would be found unacceptable as being obsolete in the job market at short intervals. This signifies the fact that human resource development has to be a continuous process which is composed of initial development of human beings through first phase of their education followed by continued upgradation and further development throughout the active working life of the individuals. The direction of this continued upgradation of human resources in a society will be linked with the fast emerging information society which is emphasizing the intangible dimension of work, heavily stressing on the development and honing of intellectual and social skills of individual workers. Thus, education systems no longer be expected to train a labour force for stable industrial jobs. They must instead train individuals to be innovative, capable of evolving, adopting to a rapidly changing world and assimilating change (ibid, p.71).
In order to ensure that the entire eligible population in a society contributes to its economic, social and technological development, a multi-pronged attention needs to be paid on all groups of people so that optimum development in the society as a whole can be achieved and all its sections can be equitably benefitted from the fruit of development. So, a conscious attempt right from the level of policy formulation needs to be made to pay equal attention on women, marginalized groups, poor and deprived sections of the society while taking up the task of human resource development. It is for this reason that the education policy must be so diversified and so designed as not to become another contributory cause of social exclusion (ibid, p.67). Inclusive human resource development, once ensured, also saves the society from facing the adverse consequences of inequitous distribution of education and well-being that may otherwise emerge in the form of discontent, unrest, interruptions and slowdowns in the development process. Equitable human resource development not only manifests enforcement of the democratic principle of social justice, it also plays its positive role in an attempt to build peace and harmony in the society which in itself is a significant condition for optimum development to happen in any country.
This important point was also emphasized by the Heads of the Commonwealth States when they met in Zimbabwe in 1991. They appreciated that human resource development is central to the promotion of sustainable development and alleviation of poverty in all commonwealth countries, despite a wide diversity among them. This has been very well demonstrated by the earlier referred example of Japan and other East Asian economies which had expanded education and health-care facilities much before they broke the restraints of general poverty (Sen, op. cit., p.41). In the 1991 Commonwealth Heads’ Conference, a Working Group on Human Resource Development was formed which recommended five key strategies for effecting human resource development including: well managed and more professional government; partnership with NGOs and the private sector; priority for women; mobilization of resources for education and HRD; and use of technology. The Group also stressed that a ‘mission approach’ has. to be followed in implementing these strategies (Rao, op. cit., p.48).
Education of the masses has been one of the primary concerns of the Indian nation ever since it acquired political power. People’s aspirations and consciousness of their right to participate effectively in economic and political processes in the society particularly by acquiring the basic means of education have also gradually increased over the decades that followed the independence. Increased desire for education has forced the Government to take steps to enlarge the base of education and to make it more inclusive. For example, the country has substantially boosted the provision of elementary education througn centrally supported schemes like Operation Black Board, DPEP and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan so that the universal elementary education goal could be achieved at the earliest. It has also resolved to work for universalisation of secondary education by 2020 and strengthen higher education system as well by investing State funds for the same on a heavily enhanced scale. For instance, in the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the Govt, of India has decided to effect a four-fold increase in public spending on education over the Tenth Five Year Plan from Rs. 0.54 lakh crores to Rs. 2.37 lakh crores (2006-07 prices). It plans to spend Rs. 1,66,000 crores on Centrally Sponsored Schemes in school sector which includes Rs. 71,000 crores on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rs. 48,000 crores on Mid-Day Meal (MDM) and Rs. 47,000 crores on SUCCESS programme at secondary level. In higher education also a much enhanced investment to the tune of 20% of the Eleventh Plan outlay for education has been planned.
In this plan, government has approved twelve central universities to be set up especially in those states which have comparatively less presence of centrally funded institutions of higher education. These include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. Besides, four existing state universities in Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Goa will be taken over by the Centre and upgraded into central universities and their resources will be substantially enhanced. A budgetary allocation of Rs. 2,700 crores and Rs. 580 crores respectively has been made in the Eleventh Plan for 12 new and 4 upgraded universities. 1000 polytechnics and two Schools of Planning and Architecture will also be opened by the Union Government.
The state governments also need to further prioritize education in their plans so that the task of strengthening educational access and quality and consequent human resource development can be taken on a mass scale in all regions of the country. Prior to 2001, States used to spend 4% of the GDP on education. This has since come down to less than 3 per cent during current years which experts say has affected both access and quality of education. State governments are being persuaded to upscale their share of spending on education in the current plan. Participation of private players in secondary and higher education sectors is also being welcomed to further strengthen the provision of education at these levels. All these steps show government’s determination to drastically expand people’s access to education:
Indian educational administrators, though of late, have also realized that programmes of supply of minimum nourishment and calories to all children through Mid-Day Meal Scheme, maintaining their basic health status through National Rural Health Programme will ultimately affect the achievement levels of these children in education and will act as early building blocks for the development of a healthy and productive human resource later. Both the programmes are found having encouraging impact on enrolment and retention of children and on their continued presence in schools which is a basic precondition for any learning to be acquired by them and for their educational development.
Relevance of Quality of Education
During the last few decades, the international economic developments have also made educational planners to look beyond the goal of access to education. It is the concern for quality of education which is drawing urgent attention of all stakeholders. Without ensuring quality of achievement in learning, it is rightly stressed, education cannot be used as an effective tool of human resource development. As an emerging world economic power, India cannot afford to overlook the significance of this dimension of human resource development. Quality in education makes it relevant to the socioeconomic and political contexts of the people and so it has now become the watchword of the world of education. Quality education ensures development of those competencies in an individual which empower him economically, socially, culturally and politically and thus enable him to participate in these processes successfully and satisfactorily. It is the stress on quality dimension of education which facilitates unfolding of the innate abilities and best possible grooming of the potentials existing in individuals and thus helps in the realization of their goals and aspirations as well as in providing the best human resource to the society.
While education of acceptable quality depends on many factors including curriculum, infrastructure, teaching-learning material and methods, educational technology, etc., yet the most important among these factors is the teacher. It is he who is directly responsible to operationalize the process of education, establish intimate contact with learners and motivate and train them in various aspects of their personality in a manner that they are successfully initiated into the society as its young, promising, productive and responsible members who are capable to face the challenges of life effectively. Teacher factor is fundamentally crucial at all levels and in all kinds of education. However, if we look at the entire system of education we find that the quality of teaching at school level matters a great deal for the success of the educational enterprize at all other levels. Hence, the role of teacher in schools becomes all the more important. In a world where knowledge is increasing exponentially and new technologies are being introduced in every field of human activity, role and responsibilities of teachers in making the process of education continuously effective have increased manifold and have become multi-dimensional.
Thus, it may be rightly stressed that for proper development of human resources in a society, a sound and progressive education system which is effectively operationalized by its teachers is a necessary condition. In order that teachers continue to remain effective agents of human resource development, they have to be specifically prepared and regularly developed professionally. Like many other professionals, a teacher also needs initial education and training of reasonable length and quality which has to be followed by regular life-long professional development activities basically taken up at his own initiative to keep his professional equipment sharp and useful in the ever-changing contexts. Initial training and later in-service professional development initiatives are a part of the ‘teacher development continuum’ which should spread over the entire professional life of a teacher.
In India, the need for initial education and training of the would-be teachers for different levels of school education is now well recognised. In higher education sector this need is yet to be appreciated by educational planners. Given the importance assigned to initial training of teachers, elaborate arrangement for initial preparation of school teachers has been made across the country. It is said that the pre-service teacher preparation in the country has now come to acquire a considerable strength both in terms of its institutional setting as well as in its curriculum. Two important events in the past are cited as an evidence in this regard. One, that the National Policy on Education (1986) paid special attention to teacher preparation programmes and it became instrumental in getting a special scheme of “Strengthening and Re-organisation of Teacher Education” rolled out by the Central Government in 1987 which led to strengthening of the existing institutional structures for teacher education and establishment of a three-tier teacher preparation arrangement at national, state and district levels. The special scheme envisaged that at national level, 50 such institutions of advanced studies in education (lASEs) will be set up by upgrading the existing reputed teacher training institutions which would work as nodal teacher education centres at the regional level. At the state level, 250 colleges of teacher education (CTEs) will be specially strengthened to enable them to offer good quality secondary teacher training programmes and at the district level, more than 500 district institutes of education and training (DIETs) will be established in order to arrange for training of elementary school teachers. Besides these institutions, setting up of SCERTs or upgrading the existing SIEs into SCERTs in all states was also envisaged in the scheme. These provisions of the scheme have been implemented in a good proportion at least in physical terms. At present, there are 38 lASEs, 87 CTEs, more than 580 DIETs and 30 SCERTs in the country.
The second important landmark in the area of teacher education and training was the establishment of the statutory NCTE with the object to regulate teacher education programmes and institutions and maintain the standards of teacher education in the country. Though both the initiatives by the Union Government have brought changes and improvements in the teacher education system yet much still remains to be achieved through these instrumentalities.
A critical look at the performance of the teacher preparation institutions as also of their regulatory mechanism reveals the following:
1. Due to increasing demand for school education, the need for trained teachers has gone up tremendously. This has led to opening up of a large number of teacher education institutions across the country with a seal of approval from the NCTE. The mushroom growth of teacher education institutions, especially through private initiative, has somehow led to commercialization of teacher training programmes. Several malpractices in terms of charging heavy fees, appointment of under-qualified and under-paid teaching faculty and poor arrangement of infrastructure and teaching-learning resources have affected the teacher training system.
2. Engagement of under-qualified, poorly paid, incompetent and poorly motivated teacher educators has resulted in poor quality of initial preparation of the future teachers. For example, in most of the DIETs, teacher educators are not ideally qualified for training elementary school teachers as they have been subjected to a training which is meant for secondary schools and not for primary schools. Their lack of orientation to the challenges and requirements of elementary education does not fully enable them to produce best educators who are equipped with competencies desired to be there in elementary school teachers. Similarly, the induction of lakhs of untrained teachers at elementary stage to make up for the shortage of teachers under support from SSA and their exposure to a short-term training on their appointment followed by a mass training through the open and distance learning mode having a loosely arranged and poorly monitored structure is ultimately affecting the quality of elementary education.
3. The quality of human resource development in education sector per se has been adversely affected due to these reasons. One can understand that poor human resource development for the education sector at the initial stage carries its far reaching adverse consequences for school education which, at a later stage, also leads to emergence of many weaknesses in higher education system as well. The University Education Commission (Radhakrishnan 1948-49) was justified in ascribing many problems faced by higher education to the weaknesses prevalent in the school education system.
4. The curriculum, including practicum, offered by the teacher training institutions still awaits true overhauling. Despite the fact that NCTE has developed new curricuiar guidelines for different teacher education programmes, many institutions have not followed these guidelines in letter and spirit, what to talk of launching any experimental and innovative curriculum by them for improving initial training of teachers.
It is for these and other reasons that the initial training received by future teachers fails to prepare them satisfactorily to face the challenges of the profession and successfully play new roles being assigned to them by the education system and the society. As a result, these teachers, more often than not, remain confined to their traditional and limited role that too quite weakly. They hardly help their students in the all-round development of their personalities and in their development as a good human resource with a distinctively enhanced productivity.
Professional Development of Teachers
While emphasizing the need to revamp the initial preparation of teachers, the Programme of Action (POA 1986) and the revised POA (1992) had also stressed that to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, the quality of education will have to be enhanced which would only be possible through continuous professional development of working teachers at school and higher education levels. For school teachers, regular programmes of in-service training were mooted and for college and university teachers, programmes of initial orientation followed by a series of refresher courses were planned. At school level, organization of the professional development programmes for teachers is the responsibility of lASEs, CTEs, SCERTs and DIETs for different categories of teachers and teacher educators. At university level, this responsibility is being taken up by the specially created institutions called Academic Staff Colleges. But in both the cases, teachers’ professional development activities are confined to their attending some given number of programmes organized by these institutions for a specified period of time and completing a technical requirement of a particular number of in-service courses for further promotion in the ladder of their career. In both the cases, it is commonly observed that teachers are more concerned with their certification for having attended programmes than their academic enrichment and professional development. The fault, of course, does not entirely lie with the teachers, it is also the teachers’ professional development institutions and educational administrators who fail to motivate the teachers to change their approach and attitude towards their professional responsibilities.
Like human resource development in other fields, development of teachers and teacher educators in education sector is not only a life-long continuous activity during their professional life, rather it is also a multi-dimensional and multi-faceted process, not limited to formally arranged in-service education courses, in which these professionals are supposed to be engaged so as to remain relevant and useful for their students. In today’s highly competitive world which has to be faced by each individual, excellence in learning and education is the only ray of hope and guarantee for his success and survival which can be achieved only through excellence in teaching, taken in its broadest sense, imparted by competent and dedicated teachers. So, both teachers and those who are responsible for their professional preparation and development first need to appreciate that:
1. Initial training and in-service education are inseparable and integrated parts of the entire process of teacher development;
2. Teachers need to develop themselves personally and professionally in order to realize growth in students’ learning;
3. Effective teacher development leads to pupil growth; and
4. The scope for becoming a more effective teacher always exists, provided the teacher has a positive attitude towards change.
If these assumptions are not kept in view and initiatives are not taken accordingly, then as rightly warned (by Moffit 1963, p. 6), ‘injustices to children and youth will be inevitable’. That learning and professional development is a life-long process has to be imbibed both by educators and learners not merely as a rhetoric but as a hard reality of their working life, if they want to remain successful in their personal and professional lives and want to put their students and institutions at a sustainable competitive advantage. This has to be followed by creation of a learning culture in the institutions which motivates the teachers to learn for their self-development.
As pointed out in the beginning, twin initiatives – competency development in people and creation of conditions to help people apply these competencies – will bring desired value addition to the vast human resources in all sectors. In education sector, a couple of national policy formulations have been made by the States but so far no specific national policy declaration has been made for teacher education and development except that national education policies have incorporated it as a small component of the entire educational enterprize. With a view to devote considerable attention to this crucial aspect of education and to ensure holistic and more comprehensive development of teacher education, there is a need to have a separately spelled out comprehensive national teacher education policy which should guide the educational planners and administrators in organizing initial teacher preparation and their continuous professional development. The policy should also encourage introduction of innovative models of teacher education and help it move towards a more rigorous, longivated and advanced professional training of would-be teachers which could really justify teaching as a profession. The curriculum frameworks and norms and standards for different teacher education programmes should logically emanate from the national teacher education policy. The teacher education regulatory authority be made responsible to enforce the different dimensions of this policy, conduct regular monitoring and evaluation of its implementation and come up with feedback and inputs for policy review at five yearly intervals. With its recognition granting responsibility, the regulatory authority has to ensure that norms and standards are sincerely adhered to by the teacher education institutions, not merely at the time of seeking recognition rather on a continuing basis while organizing the teacher training programmes. This would require a more systematic mechanism to be enforced for monitoring of the processes undertaken by these institutions.
The statutory NCTE should provide professional leadership and support to teacher education institutions and help them resolve their academic issues by guiding them at different stages of teacher development and also encourage them to take up innovative programmes of teacher education and development. Looking at the kind of sub-standard material available in the colleges of education, which is, many a time, due to non-availability of good literature, NCTE should develop good quality teaching-learning material, textbooks and software for each level of teacher preparation and arrange to get it published and distributed. Similarly, it may also act as a clearing house of new ideas, innovative practices, useful material and other information relevant to all stakeholders in teacher education. For continuous professional development of teachers while the UGC may be urged to set up separate academic staff colleges fully dedicated to the discipline of education, at least one in each of the four regions, a chain of teacher resource centres at strategic locations as regular meeting places for teachers and teacher educators may also be mooted. The existing professional development programmes for teachers and teacher educators need to be made more professional in their content and organization and be monitored and evaluated on a continuing basis. Entry to the teaching profession also needs to be made more focussed by introducing a more authentic screening process for those who aspire to join the profession. A national eligibility test score may be required to be earned by these aspirants as one of the criteria for their admission.
Similarly, to weed out and restrain poorly trained teachers by malfunctioning and weak teacher education institutions, a national or regional recruitment test may also be conducted for each category of teachers and teacher educators and a Unique Teacher Educator Identity Number (UTEIN)) and a Certificate be issued to those who are able to clear this test. At a later stage, this certificate may also be renewed through an upgraded version of such a test. Employment in private and public institutions should be offered only to those who possess the ‘UTEIN’ and the certificate. Besides regularly revisiting and updating the existing curriculum frameworks for teacher education programmes for incorporating emerging developments in knowledge, technology, economy and society, there is a need to gradually move towards an extended integrated programme of teacher preparation which should include internship of reasonable length as a significant component for competency development in trainee teachers at desired standards. Moreover, teachers’ quality performance cannot be achieved in a state of teachers’ weak social status, low morale and poor professional support. Teacher education policy planners and the educational administrators, therefore, must incorporate steps and strategies to address these crucial issues as well. However harsh and difficult to enforce it might appear, a mechanism for professional accountability will also have to be put in place to improve educational attainments and standards at all levels of teacher education and school education. These and other similar steps would help professionalize teacher education, on the one hand, and improve quality and performance of teacher educators, teachers and their students, on the other, which would eventually lead to development of better human resources in the society.