The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for Teacher Education, released recently by the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal, has spurred interest among teachers, teacher trainers and academics.
As a document, it might prompt institutes to adopt a more practical, vibrant curriculum for teacher education, but much depends on how teachers and teacher training institutes implement the guidelines, experts note.
M.P.Vijayakumar, honorary advisor, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, observes teacher training is not an end in itself. “What really makes the difference is clarity of the final objective. Present-day teacher training programmes, both pre-service and in-service, are like rituals.”
Pointing to the theory-heavy curricula currently followed in most cases, he says: “You can't learn to swim unless you plunge into the water. You can't learn to teach unless you have hands-on experience in a classroom. So, there must be adequate chances for hands-on training.”
The NCF, developed by the National Council for Teacher Education, addresses issues such as preparing and re-orienting teachers for enabling the child to learn through activities, discovery and exploration of his/her environment and surroundings in a child-friendly and child-centred manner.
Inclusive education, perspective of equitable and sustainable development, gender perspectives, role of community knowledge in education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are other areas covered.
“No curriculum is good or bad. Everything depends on how vibrant one makes it,” says G. Balasubramanian, former director (academics), Central Board of Secondary Education.
Emphasising the huge number of teachers the school education system will require in the next few years, he says: “We need good courses. More importantly, we need good mentoring and monitoring of institutions involved in teacher training.”
Apart from the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT) and the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) that look into teacher education and training, the State also has B.Ed colleges and Teacher Training Institutes that offer courses for aspiring teachers.
DTERT director R. Elangovan says the NCF has come at an apt time.
“In our State, the School Education Department has been introducing child-centred initiatives such as the ABL and ALM, and relevant teacher training becomes vital for the programmes' success,” he says.
“The NCF is largely about content, methodology and evaluation — areas that our State has also been looking at very closely in the last couple of years,” he adds.
Some teachers also feel the NCF will help revamp the training programmes they attend.
“As teachers, we want to be able to share and reflect on our experiences. Sometimes, trainers do not allow us to say why we disagree with certain methods. Hopefully, the NCF will give us more opportunities for that,” says an elementary school teacher.