India/ 05 September, 2022/ Source/ https://indianexpress.com/
In a post-pandemic classroom, students will require individual attention. The case for teacher’s autonomy was never stronger.
The New National Education Policy (NEP) — announced during the pandemic — does have provisions that could enable far-reaching innovations in the education system.
The last two academic years were unlike any other. As the Covid pandemic took a toll on lives and livelihoods and limited social interaction, educational institutions had to make do with emergency arrangements that placed difficult demands on teachers and students. Now with schools, universities and other institutions of learning beginning to take steps to undo the disruption, one thing is becoming clear — students returning to classrooms will require much more attention than in the pre-pandemic years. Several studies and reports at the school-level, including the National Achievement Survey 2021, have confirmed the worst fear of educationists — substituting classroom-level interactions with online teaching has affected the ability of a substantial number of students to read, write and do basic math. Many of them have undergone grief and trauma during the past two years. It’s increasingly becoming evident that restoring the confidence of youngsters will require increasing the teacher’s agency. Called on to re-invent pedagogy as a healing process, she must be free of the shackles imposed by educational authorities and the management bodies of institutions, even curricula.
The New National Education Policy (NEP) — announced during the pandemic — does have provisions that could enable far-reaching innovations in the education system. It underlines the importance of making the child the centre of classroom processes, makes a strong case for the use of creative methods of instruction and suggests measures to empower teachers. The policy aspires to draw “outstanding talent” into the teaching profession. It suggests several measures — scholarships, housing, providing opportunities for the continuous professional development of teachers — that could make teaching a more rewarding profession than it is today. Implementing these proposals is likely to take time. NAS, 2021, data gives some indication of the challenges ahead. For instance, only 52 per cent of schoolteachers participated in professional development programmes conducted by District Institutes of Education and Training, CBSE and NCERT. The disinclination of teachers to participate in training programmes could stand in the way of implementing some of the radical objectives of the policy, especially the ones that envisage moving away from a rigid content-driven rote learning system to experiential learning. In any case, a teacher overloaded with work — according to the NAS 65 per cent of them had such a complaint — would be very hard-pressed to be creative in the classroom or give attention to students individually.
The last two decades have seen an explosion of aspirations and a manifold rise in the demand for education. By all accounts, the country’s education system has not kept pace with this social reality. It has fallen short of honing and nurturing the skills required by a growing knowledge economy. Educational institutes are increasingly being overwhelmed by centrifugal tendencies and their role as platforms that encourage inclusivity and nurture a diversity of views is seriously embattled. Acknowledging these challenges and framing policy, accordingly, would be the most befitting recognition of the educator’s work this Teacher’s Day.