A teacher is an individual who instructs, guides, and facilitates learning for students. The primary role of a teacher is to create a positive learning environment and help students acquire knowledge and skills. This involves designing and delivering effective instructional strategies, assessing student learning, and providing feedback to help students improve. Effective teachers are committed to their students’ success and strive to create a supportive and engaging learning environment that fosters critical thinking, creativity, and a love of learning. They are also lifelong learners themselves, constantly seeking to improve their teaching skills and stay up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in the field. Teacher education plays a critical role in preparing effective teachers. Teacher education programs help to develop pedagogical knowledge, which is the understanding of the principles and practices of teaching and learning. Effective teachers need a deep understanding of the subject they are teaching. Teacher education programs provide opportunities for prospective teachers to develop a strong knowledge base in their subject area. Teacher education programs help prospective teachers develop classroom management skills, such as establishing routines, addressing disruptive behavior and building positive relationships with students. Overall, teacher education programs play a critical role in preparing effective teachers who are knowledgeable, skilled and committed to supporting student learning and success. By providing prospective teachers with a strong foundation in pedagogy, subject matter expertise, practical experiences, reflection and self-assessment skills, and classroom management skills, teacher education programs can help to ensure that teachers are well-prepared to meet the diverse needs of their students and to make a positive impact on their lives. The term “teacher” is commonly used to describe someone who is engaged in the act of teaching; it is the formal professional title for someone who has completed a degree in teacher education and is certified to teach. But unfortunately in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, the term “teacher” is not necessarily a formal professional title that is conferred upon someone who has completed a degree in teacher education. Instead of valuing professional teacher education degrees, the term “teacher” is referred to anyone who is engaged in the act of teaching, regardless of whether or not they hold a formal certification or degree in teacher education. The fifteenth chapter of National Education Policy 2020, which is about teacher education, begins with the line, “Teacher education is vital in creating a pool of school teachers that will shape the next generation.” But unfortunately, in our Jammu and Kashmir, this pool of people who were supposed to shape the next generation is suffering the most. The teacher education degree holders (M.Ed.) of Jammu and Kashmir are in distress. They are on the verge of getting overage because every Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree holder possesses at least three degrees, i.e., graduation, B.Ed., and M.Ed., as this is a prerequisite as per the guidelines of the National Council of Teacher Education, New Delhi. As a result of these complex standards set by the National Council of Teacher Education and the prevailing unprecedented situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the age of M.Ed. degree holders crosses 30 at the completion of their degree. The present situation indicates that the government is not having any provision for the placement of professionally trained aspiring teachers, as we haven’t witnessed any teacher recruitment in the past six years. Now, the private sector was the only hope, but unfortunately, the private sector too exploits teaching professionals by giving no preference to professional degrees like B.Ed. and M.Ed. at the time of teacher recruitment and by paying very low wages. In the present era, an unskilled labourer makes at least Rs 700 per day, whereas a highly qualified person is being hired by private schools for just Rs 200 to Rs 300 per day. From time to time, the government regulates the fee structure in private schools; a few years ago, a fee fixation committee was even appointed by the government. But unfortunately, there are no regulations governing the pay structure in private schools, and no pay fixation committee has yet been appointed by the government. The placement of amateurs in the field of teaching will yield very bad results in the future and will destroy our generations. Teaching is a very complex profession; it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Due to the exposure to information, communication, and technology, today everyone has vast knowledge about medicine, engineering, law, etc., but this doesn’t mean everyone can become a doctor, engineer, or lawyer.
There is something that we call professionalism; if given the opportunity, professionally trained people can do wonders in their respective professions. On the one hand, our government is implementing all the recommendations of NEP 2020 regarding different aspects of our education system, which is a very good step for reorganising and overhauling our education system. But at the same time unfortunately, the major recommendations of NEP 2020 regarding teachers and teacher education are being neglected and violated in the private sector. One fails to understand why no one is listening to the forthcoming nation-builders, what their fault is, and what their crime is. Our society must value teacher education degrees. The B.Ed. and M.Ed. degree holders are professionally trained, highly qualified, have given precious years of their lives to teacher training, and most importantly, they came into this profession by choice. Once upon a time, like other professionals, they too dreamed of becoming teachers. For chasing this dream and for contributing to society, they utilised their precious time and resources obtaining these degrees. If the government has no placement policy for these professionally trained people, then why are our universities running B.Ed. or M.Ed. programs? Why are they destroying the future of our youth? Isn’t this an injustice? This is the high time for the people at the helm of affairs and all other stakeholders to come forward for the welfare of teaching professionals and for securing the future of school-going students as the quality of education is determined by the quality of teachers. In order to improve quality and professionalism in teaching, we need to address these underlying issues. This might involve providing better remuneration and working conditions for teachers, increasing recognition for their contributions, focusing on training and professional development, having a fair and unbiased selection process, and fostering a more positive and respectful attitude towards teachers in society.
(The author is pursuing M.Ed. at the Department of Education University of Kashmir. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)
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