ADVERTISEMENT

Reforms and the task of getting teachers on board

Published - September 21, 2022 12:08 am IST

While the State has embarked on radical changes in the curriculum, school restructuring and the mode of teaching, it needs to cross the main hurdle — of reaching out to teachers

Some worries | Photo Credit: V. Raju

The education system in Andhra Pradesh is changing rapidly following a slew of reforms that have been ushered in by the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh. The aim is to ensure that all children have access to quality education within an equitable and inclusive classroom environment, taking into account their diverse backgrounds and different academic abilities, thereby making them active participants in the learning process.

ADVERTISEMENT

The objective is to shift the focus from content retention to building critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, making the learning process more experiential, holistic, integrated, enquiry-driven, and enjoyable. To this, the government is redefining the tasks, the training patterns and the professional development mode of teachers.

Also read | Andhra Pradesh teachers oppose NEP and reforms being introduced in State

ADVERTISEMENT

But teacher unions are sceptical about the results of these reforms, which are being aligned with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. They argue that the school restructuring programme — it calls for a merger of classes three to five in primary schools with high schools — will further contribute to the school drop-out rate as it will deprive a large population of students who live in remote rural and tribal pockets of education. They also say that the government order 117 on reapportionment of teaching staff in the State will only increase their workload in addition to shrinking existing teacher posts.

The introduction of a face recognition app by the School Education Department, asking teachers to download it in on their personal mobile phones and record their daily attendance, has further angered teachers. Citing virtual security reasons, teacher unions are refusing to follow the instructions and have urged teachers across the State to boycott use of the app. They have demanded that the government provide them devices, as in the past, when they recorded their attendance using an Aadhar-enabled biometric attendance system.

The new app-based attendance system is a pilot project that was rolled out by the government in August in State-run schools. Teachers will have to be present in the school while recording their attendance, as the Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE)-linked system records metrics such as the longitude and latitude of the place where they are present. Attendance is sent to officials by SMS. Parents will also receive SMS updates on their child’s arrival and departure from school.

ADVERTISEMENT

The low download rate of the app by teachers has been a cause for worry; State Education Minister Botcha Satyanarayana held talks with teacher unions, allaying their fears about virtual security issues. There is confidence that there will be a better response from teachers — only a small number of teachers has not registered on the app so far. A teacher’s union, the Andhra Pradesh Teachers’ Federation (APTF), attributes this to this being an integrated app that is also used to register students’ attendance. The APTF has also filed a case in the State High Court seeking direction to the government to repeal the face recognition attendance app.

The Minister has promised to address other issues such as poor or no Internet connectivity in villages and tribal habitations but he has made it clear that the integrated “School Attendance” app is the only platform to record the attendance of teachers in government schools across the State.

Also read | Andhra Pradesh teacher unions vow to build ‘social movement’ for repeal of NEP-2020

ADVERTISEMENT

Education Department officials say that such technology-driven effective mechanisms are needed to check teacher absenteeism. “We want a fool-proof system in place to ensure transparency and accountability,” said S. Suresh Kumar, Commissioner, School Education Department, citing instances of the tampering of devices given to schools and the manipulation of the attendance system. While the State has embarked on radical changes in the curriculum, school-restructuring and the mode of teaching, teacher unions remain nonchalant. It is expected that they should now step out of their traditional role of teaching academic content in a classroom and, instead, focus on acquiring new abilities, skills and showing greater commitment. Meanwhile, teacher representatives have expressed their worry over what they call the “incoherent” policies of the government.

As teachers are central to any change in the education system — they cannot be left out of the realm of the reforms underway — the government could perhaps think of employing effective motivation and, if needed, small-scale incentivisation to find a middle ground and make them partners in the ongoing journey.

pothuri.varma@thehindu.co.in

This is a Premium article available exclusively to our subscribers. To read 250+ such premium articles every month
You have exhausted your free article limit.
Please support quality journalism.
You have exhausted your free article limit.
Please support quality journalism.
The Hindu operates by its editorial values to provide you quality journalism.
This is your last free article.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT