Need a master plan for quality education31 October 2021
Ranjit Podder, PhD :
Quality teacher education and teacher training plays an important role in achieving quality education in a geographical area. The standard of education in a country is equivalent to the standard of teachers in an educational organisation or in a country. Quality of education depends on quality of teacher education, training, motivation and commitment of teachers. A well-trained teacher can implement the curriculum in the best possible way. For example, New Zealand schools do not have any textbooks for the students like ours but the teachers use government prepared curriculum and books to make lesson plans. The teachers are properly educated and trained to implement the curriculum. They can implement the curriculum following the curriculum and the syllabus as they have well-structured teacher education and training for the teachers. Alongside the government provided books or teacher's guides, the teachers use reference books, the Internet, and they share any educational issues with colleagues. The teachers can implement the curriculum properly as the teachers are well aware of the philosophy and pedagogical aspects of education. In many countries, no one can be a teacher without a degree or diploma or a Master in Education from a recognized institution. Only a pedagogical degree, diploma or a Master in Education does not give one gate-pass to be a teacher in those countries; they have to receive a registration certificate from the education authority through fulfilling some conditions and the registration has to be renewed after a certain period.
What is the status of teachers in Bangladesh in terms of education and pedagogical training? It is known to all that pedagogical education and training is not a precondition to be a teacher at any level in Bangladesh. Has it ever happened that a soldier has been sent to the battle field without prior training? Is teaching so easy that one can be successful without training and enough preparation where teachers have to deal with 30, 40 or more students with different psychological traits? Teaching is a complicated task, better to say vocation, and teachers have to handle pupils with different mentality. Unless the teachers are strategic, in many cases, they fail to accomplish the act of teaching properly. And many teachers are not successful in taking care of the students properly. Sensing teaching as a difficult but important job, ILO and UNESCO set benchmarks for teachers for quality education in 1966 which include -the rights and responsibilities of teachers; standard for initial preparation of a teacher; further education and training of a teacher; recruitment and deployment of teachers; and teaching-learning conditions. Apparently it seems that, Bangladesh has started to recruit and deploy teachers in a more fair way than before and the nation will receive the benefits of this fair recruitment system in the future. What about the other benchmarks? Probably you all know the answers as the 'answer is blowing in the wind'!
Achieving quality in education will bring quality in all other sectors including the service sectors, no doubt. Therefore, the learners at all levels should be handled with care where there will be a touch of humanity above all other considerations. Teachers with improved intellectual and pedagogical ability and commitmenthave so much influence on students that each and every student take a teacher as their model to follow and this influence does never end. Australian educationist David Gonski has termed the western secondary education 'industrial' which means the schools always try to produce the same standard products; students have to go through a common system and where there is little scope to go beyond the system; and the system never fosters creativity and individuality for problem solving. According to him, there is no or little touch of humanity or exercise of creativity in the schools. This is true for our country, too. Professor Dr. John Dewar Wilson in a book published from Routledge suggested redesigning the secondary schooling system where students and teachers would delightfully collaborate in achieving the learning outcomes. Schools must have a close connection with the community. Students of any levels do not have strong ties with the communities in Bangladesh. Therefore, they do not feel the responsibility for giving unconditional service to the society.
Any nation who wants to prepare the best quality teachersmust have a national plan for teacher development through providing quality education and training. There must have a Master Plan for teacher development as teachers create all other professionals; quality of teachers would instill quality in their disciples. It is a good thing that the government of Bangladesh has understood the importance of teacher education and training and has taken some projects to improve the quality of the university teachers (e.g. HEQAEP, CEDP) to train the university teachers and some other projects to develop the secondary teachers (SESIP, TQI-SEP, FSSAP, ELTIP, SEDP, ICT, A2I, SMDP, and so on). There are some purely government funded training programs which are organized by NAEM, HSTTIs, and NCTB. The primary sector has got their training programs through PTIs and donar funded projects which are considered good enough to make the teachers expert in teaching at that level. Although the projects have positive impact on the making of the better teachers, the good practices are not continued as there is almost no follow-up activities. Therefore, Bangladesh government can take a Master Plan regarding teacher development which may help bring quality in education which would bring quality in other sectors, too.
The education of Singapore is highly esteemed all over the world. They have a well-structured career ladder for teachers and after joining the schools, they know where they will go and what qualifications and skills they need to achieve for going up. Therefore, alongside government efforts for professional development, teachers themselves work harder to go to the next higher step of the career ladder. Teachers join the job and based on their qualifications, performances, andknack, they go up along the teaching track, the leadership track, and the senior specialist track.The National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore, established in 1950 as an institute of Nanyang Technological University, looks after the country's teacher education, training for teachers, designing and developing school curricula, conducting policy research in education, and implementing other government approved development programs. Quality is maintained in all activities and the institute ranked 12 in QS world ranking and second in Asia in 2015. However, what is possible in Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia may not be possible in Bangladesh but Bangladesh needs to take some pragmatic steps regarding teacher quality development. The plan must be based on available resources and prevailing contexts. The career ladder of Singapore secondary teachers, which gives a clear indication where a teacher can be promoted, has been placed below:
If you visit theMinistry of Education, Singapore, you will see the following lines written for the teachers: As teachers, you build the foundation of education. You equip students with essential skills and sound values to prepare them for life. Anticipate a career of lifelong learning, as you grow alongside your students. The lines tell us how much value is attached to the teachers and teaching because the lines recognize the contribution of teachers.
Bangladesh government can make a holistic plan where there will be included policy regarding the criteria to be teachers and teacher educators; well-planned compulsory pre-service teacher education program; development of mentor program for making better teachers and students; plan for in-service training; teaching-learning conditions;teaching and assessment; and teacher evaluation process. There could be a plan regarding how to allure the brighter and committed graduates (strategy may include providing scholarships and initial higher pay, and creating opportunities for promotion). Of course, handsome salary structure should be there so that the teachers can fully concentrate on the intellectual and emotional development of the students. We must remember that the future citizens, good or bad, are prepared by the classroom teachers. Those nation builders must be taken care of for our own sake.
The IERs (Institute of Education and Research) can be used for the education and training of the university teachers; the Teachers' Training Colleges and the PTIs can be used for the education and training of the secondary and primary teachers. Alongside teacher education, the mentioned organizations including the HSTTIs (Higher Secondary Teacher Training Institute), BMTTI (Bangladesh Madrasah Teacher Training Institute), NCTB (National Curriculum and Textbook Board), and NAEM (National Academy for Educational Management) can be used as training venues for teachers teaching at different levels. No schools, colleges, madrasahs, and universities should be left out of the teacher development Master Plan because whoever are teaching, they are teaching our future citizens and we cannot allow any institutions to provide education with ill-prepared teachers. In order to make a Master Plan for teacher development, the government can form a high power committee and some sub-committees where stakeholders from all levels would be included. There should be a strategy in the Master Plan about how the bright students can be allured to teaching. Scholarships can be offered to selected students at undergraduate levels on conditions that they would be teachers in future. If this Master Plan can be implemented, it is hoped that the quality of teachers would improve and thus the excellence of education would also be visible at all levels. However, it requires a long and continuous practice to see the progress as development in education is not immediately tangible; it takes time to be noticeable.
(The writer is an educational researcher, columnist, and Associate Professor currently posted at Govt. Teachers' Training College, Dhaka).