Many B.Ed. colleges are being run in a disgraceful manner and ought to be closed, says an expert report

A lot of debate has been going on about the standards of teacher education in the country and in Karnataka. In this context, when a member of the academic council of a varsity remarks that almost half the number of B.Ed. colleges are good enough to be closed, it is a wake-up call. Karan Kumar H., a member of Bangalore University (BU) academic council, has recommended that 40 per cent of the B.Ed. colleges under Bangalore University must be closed “for the good of teacher education.” His comments are based on a survey conducted between December 2011 and February 2012.

As per the report of the survey, which has been submitted to the Higher Education Department, there are about 120 B.Ed. colleges affiliated to BU. All of them have the approval of NCTE (National Council of Teacher Education). In recent years, about 10,000 admissions to B.Ed. courses happen annually.

These are some of the facts and observations stated in the report: Many colleges do not have an independent building or reasonable building space allotted for the B.Ed. course; most of the colleges are running their B.Ed. programme along with other academic programmes in the same building; dedicated rooms for the principal and academic staff are a rarity; and space for classrooms, libraries, laboratories and computer centres has been found to be “inadequate.”

Gross irregularities

These apart, gross irregularities have been found in admissions and appointments as well. Some of the colleges have admitted ineligible candidates (those without a minimum of 50 per cent marks in their graduation programmes). Maintenance of admission registers is irregular, with improper records of students. Students have been allowed to take examinations without attending the required number of classes (minimum of 85 per cent attendance). Further, Internal Assessment (IA) examinations have not been conducted, and corresponding records have not been maintained. Impersonation during theory and practical examinations was also found to be commonplace.

The teaching staff to groom the future teachers are also under the scanner. The survey discovered the appointment of “inefficient, ineligible and irregular” principals and librarians by many colleges. Many colleges had either part-time and/or insufficient number of teaching staff (as per NCTE norms and the University's approval, it is mandatory to have one qualified principal and seven teaching staff against an intake of 100 B.Ed. students). Some of the full-time teaching staff were found to be working in two or more colleges against the rules.

The report also reveals that some colleges are not getting the University's approval for the academic calendar, practical exam timetable, process of conduct of examination and the list of examiners. “At the time of inspection by University committees, in most of the college campuses, neither the students nor the staff was present nor was any evidence of academic activities witnessed,” the report states.

Significantly, according to the report, no hostel facilities exist in a majority of these colleges in spite of having outstation students. Most of the colleges did not hold seminars or workshops for the benefit of students and staff members.

Recommendations

In order to make the B.Ed. programme offered by Bangalore University “more meaningful and transparent”, Mr. Kumar suggests: During approval of admissions in each college by the University, there is a need to check and regulate misuse of provisions made for different category seats / quotas in admission; strict compliance with admission regulations of the University is required; to check for adherence to minimum attendance requirements prescribed by the University; colleges should maintain their admission register in accordance with norms and the University should publish a list of B.Ed. admissions for each college annually; details of principals and academic staff along with their qualifications should also be published by the University; the University should recommend the State Government to introduce five per cent supernumerary quota so that B.Ed. colleges could admit poor and meritorious students free of cost; theory and practical examinations should be made more transparent and compliant; exam squads should visit colleges to check for compliance with university regulations; colleges with gross irregularities must be notified during the first inspection and disaffiliated with stringent action within three months during the second inspection in case of no improvement in academic conditions.

Mr. Kumar, in a letter written to Siddaiah, Principal Secretary of Higher Education, suggests the enforcement of some common parameters based on which the B.Ed. and M.Ed. colleges could be evaluated. Among the factors to be considered are: admissions of students, recruitment of teaching staff as per NCTE norms, presence of academic infrastructure, academic performance, conduct of examination, and availability of administrative records.

For the programme, the following have been recommended: special emphasis on ICT-based teaching, right exposure to virtual classroom, familiarise B.Ed. students with various websites of the State/Central Governments; offer knowledge on open source software; encourage B.Ed. students to acquire skill in at least one vocational job to help them implement the vocational training scheme in secondary school education; prepare each B.Ed. student as a resource person on various aspects of life skills; familiarise B.Ed. students with various funding bodies; acclimatise them to institutions of national importance such as IISc, IIT,IIIT, IIM, NIT, and statutory and research councils; and encourage them to be aware of nationwide education programmes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikshana Abhiyan and Adolescent Education Programme.