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Future of Indian pedagogy — faint light at the end of the tunnel

Introduce a new pedagogical structure, and increase the focus on skill development.

Education Post12 September 2023 05:01

Future of Indian pedagogy — faint light at the end of the tunnel
Pedagogy in India is at a critical juncture, with ever-evolving technology being the driving force behind the sea-change that teaching and learning is undergoing. But it is an ongoing process, still far from an ideal situation. Education Post’s Managing Editor Rohit Wadhwaney interviews Sushma Raturi of the Saamarthya Teachers Training Academy of Research (STTAR), Rishabh Khanna of teacher-training platform Suraasa and Dr. Christopher Abraham, CEO of SP Jain School of Global Management’s Dubai campus to understand the past, present and future of educationists.

Academics say that a severe shortage of teachers is the biggest hurdle in implementing the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Do you agree? Is there in fact a shortage of teachers in India?

According to recent UNESCO report, there is a shortage of over one million teachers in schools. Around 1.1 lakh schools in India are single-teacher entities. A total of 19%, or 11.16 lakh teaching positions in schools, lie vacant and in rural areas, the number is as high as 69%.

During my visits to government schools in certain rural areas of the country, I noticed a shortage of teachers. Conversely, teachers in private schools appeared to be handling an overwhelming workload.

Shortages of teachers could be one of the factors that may pose a challenge in implementing NEP 2020, however there are other reasons such as:

  • Resistance to change from stakeholders in the education system
  • Aligning the existing education system with the new policy framework
  • Challenges in ensuring effective teacher trainings and PDPs to support the new policy requirements.

 Absolutely! There is definitely a shortage of teachers in India, but it’s not just about the quantity. The main issue is the shortage of qualified and skilled teachers. We need teachers who have the right qualifications and know effective teaching techniques to shape the future of the country. So, it’s not just a matter of having more teachers, but having the right ones.

This shortage of qualified teachers has been a problem in the Indian education system for a long time. To give you an idea, by 2030, India will need around 7 million teachers across different levels of education.

Now, let’s talk about how this shortage affects the implementation of the NEP 2020. The NEP aims to bring about a significant transformation in the education system, focusing on skill-based education, innovative teaching methods, and personalized learning. However, without a sufficient number of qualified teachers, it becomes difficult to ensure the quality and delivery of education as envisioned in the NEP.

Furthermore, the policy emphasizes the importance of continuous professional development for teachers. It encourages their upskilling and reskilling to keep up with evolving teaching methodologies. However, implementing such training programs on a large scale poses a significant challenge in the face of the teacher shortage.

That said, efforts are being made by policymakers, educational institutions, and private players to address this shortage. They are establishing new teacher training institutions, expanding existing ones, and encouraging more young people to consider teaching as a career.

So, while the NEP 2020 is well-designed, its success ultimately depends on proper implementation, analysis, and the collective efforts of organizations like Suraasa, along with policymakers, educational institutions, and other stakeholders. It’s an ongoing process, but with dedicated efforts, we can overcome the shortage of qualified teachers and provide quality education to our students.

 There is no doubt that the teacher shortage has been an ongoing issue in India, and this could pose a significant challenge to the implementation of the NEP 2020. According to a report from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2020, India had a shortage of approximately one million teachers at that time. It’s also important to note that the issue is not just about the number of teachers, but also the quality of teaching, with concerns raised about teacher training, qualifications, and retention.

The NEP 2020 is an ambitious plan to overhaul India’s education system, with aims to increase access to quality education, promote multilingualism, introduce a new pedagogical structure, and increase the focus on skill development. These are significant changes that will require a highly trained and adaptable teaching workforce.

That said, whether the teacher shortage is the “biggest hurdle” is debatable. While it’s certainly a major challenge, other factors could also pose significant difficulties. For example, there are infrastructural challenges, such as ensuring access to education in rural areas, that the policy will need to overcome. Furthermore, budgetary constraints, societal attitudes towards education, and regulatory challenges in implementing such a broad policy reform could also be considered substantial hurdles.

What are the reasons behind this shortage of teachers in a massively populous country like India?

In my opinion, the public perception and regard towards the teaching profession is one of the main reasons that can be attributed to its decline. Some other reasons are:

  • Limited availability of qualified and trained teachers, particularly in rural areas
  • High attrition rates due to low salaries and poor working conditions
  • Insufficient investments in teacher development programs
  • Limited opportunities for career growth and advancements in the teaching profession
  • Lack of incentives to attract and retain quality teachers

The shortage of teachers can be attributed to several factors. One major reason is the rapid population growth. With a large and growing population, the demand for quality education has skyrocketed. However, the rate at which new teachers are being trained and recruited hasn’t kept up with this demand.

Another factor is the limited number of teacher training institutions. While efforts have been made to establish more of these institutions, there is still a gap between the supply of qualified teachers and the number needed to meet the demand.

Moreover, teaching is not always seen as an attractive profession compared to other career options. Some perceive it as financially unrewarding or lacking prestige. This perception discourages talented individuals from pursuing teaching, worsening the shortage of qualified teachers. There are also regional disparities in the distribution of teachers. Many qualified teachers prefer to work in urban areas or more developed regions, leaving rural and remote areas with a significant shortage of teachers.

Furthermore, in some educational systems, teachers face challenges such as comparatively lower salaries, limited avenues for career advancement, and a lack of adequate support. These challenges contribute to high attrition rates among teachers, further worsening the shortage. It is crucial to address these issues within the affected systems and regions, implementing policies and reforms that prioritize fair compensation, improved career prospects, and a supportive working environment for teachers

So, you see, the shortage of teachers in India is a complex issue stemming from variable factors, not just one particular issue.

The shortage of teachers in a massively populous country like India can be attributed to several reasons. Here are some key factors that contribute to this issue:

Population pressure: India has a population of over 1.4 billion people, and the demand for quality education is immense. The sheer size of the population puts significant strain on the education system, making it challenging to recruit and retain an adequate number of qualified teachers to meet the growing demand.

Education infrastructure: Despite progress in recent years, India still faces challenges in providing sufficient educational infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Many schools lack proper facilities, including classrooms, libraries, and laboratories, which makes teaching positions less attractive to potential candidates.

Inequality in access to education: There are significant disparities in access to education across different regions and socio-economic backgrounds in India. Many remote and economically disadvantaged areas struggle to attract and retain teachers due to the lack of basic amenities, inadequate transportation, and limited career advancement opportunities.

Low teacher salaries: In India, teacher salaries, particularly in government schools, are often low compared to other professions requiring similar qualifications. This wage disparity can discourage talented individuals from pursuing a teaching career and lead to attrition, further exacerbating the shortage of teachers.

High student-teacher ratio: India’s education system often faces a high student-teacher ratio, especially in government schools. This means that teachers are burdened with large class sizes, making it difficult for them to provide individual attention to each student. The workload and lack of support can lead to burnout and demotivation among teachers.

Lack of teacher training and professional development: Adequate training and continuous professional development opportunities are essential for teachers to enhance their skills and keep up with evolving teaching methods. However, in India, there is a shortage of quality teacher training institutes and comprehensive professional development programs, limiting the growth and effectiveness of teachers.

Do you see this shortage being filled in the near future? Is there an improvement in the situation in sight?

There have been some initiatives to improve the situation, it being a complex issue, filling the shortage will take quite some time.

It is possible to overcome the shortage of teachers in the near future through sustained investment, systemic reforms and effective policies. However, there have been a positive focus towards teacher education programs that are aligned with the needs of the current education scenario and the demands of the job market.

Yes, definitely! We see a positive outlook for filling the shortage of qualified teachers in the near future.

For instance, the government has established the National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) program. This program aims to provide continuous professional development and training to over 42 lakhs (4.2 million) teachers across the country, enhancing their skills and knowledge. This will allow unskilled teachers to become more skilled, grab better opportunities and make a more lasting impact on the education system.

Furthermore, the implementation of the NEP 2020 has placed a strong emphasis on teacher training and professional development. The policy envisions the establishment of the National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST) to ensure that teachers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for effective pedagogy.

While filling the shortage entirely may take time, the collaborative focus on addressing this issue gives us optimism that the shortage of teachers in India will be mitigated in the near future. Together, we can provide quality education and shape a brighter future for our nation.

Several initiatives and policies are being implemented to address these issues, such as the new NEP 2020, which proposed significant changes in the prevailing Indian education system, including teacher training and recruitment. Other efforts included increasing the use of technology in education, expanding distance and online learning options for teacher training, and providing better support and incentives for teachers working in rural or underserved areas.

However, the effectiveness of these measures and their ability to significantly reduce the teacher shortage in the near future would depend on a variety of factors, including the successful implementation of these policies, changes in socio-economic conditions, and the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education system.

How would you compare teaching methods in the 1980s or 1990s to teaching methods today? Ways of imparting education seem very progress today as compared to, say, 20-30 years back.

Urban schools have undergone a significant transformation in their pedagogical practices in the last three decades, although they are at varying stage of development. While some schools may be making slow progress, others have made remarkable strides in adopting global best practices and are on par with some of the best schools in the world. However, the situation is quite dismal in rural schools, where there is not much evidence of progress in their curricular transactions.

Absolutely! Teaching methods today have come a long way compared to the 1980s or 1990s. Back then, it was all about rote learning, textbooks, and listening to chalkboard lectures. Students were mostly passive recipients of information, and there weren’t many interactive or multimedia resources available to make learning engaging

But fast forward to today, teaching methods have undergone a remarkable transformation. With advancements in technology and a better understanding of effective pedagogy, education has become more student-centered, interactive, and inclusive. Teachers now have a plethora of tools and resources at their disposal to create dynamic learning experiences.

Instead of just being the bearers of knowledge, teachers now play the role of facilitators. They guide students in exploring and understanding concepts, encouraging them to actively participate in the learning process. Collaborative learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving are given more prominence. Students engage in group discussions, hands-on activities, projects, simulations, and even educational games to make learning fun and practical.

Technology has played a major role in this shift. It has opened up a world of possibilities in education. With the advent of digital platforms, online resources, and interactive tools, teachers can personalize learning experiences and provide instant feedback. Learning is no longer confined to the classroom, as remote learning has become more accessible, offering flexibility and expanding educational opportunities.

All-in-all education has become more inclusive, collaborative, progressive and interactive than ever before.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Indian education was largely teacher-centric and based on rote memorization. The focus was mostly on imparting theoretical knowledge, with less emphasis on practical applications. Standardized tests were the primary method of evaluation, and there was less attention to individual student’s learning style or interests.

Classroom infrastructure was generally basic, with a blackboard and chalk being the primary teaching aids. Technology was not a significant part of the classroom experience. Extracurricular activities were present but not heavily emphasized.

In contrast, by the 2020s, India had begun to adopt more progressive methods of education, inspired by global trends. Here are some key changes:

Technological Integration: With the advent of digital learning tools, technology has become an integral part of education. Online learning platforms, virtual classrooms, educational apps, and digital content are now widely used. This was further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated remote learning.

Student-Centric Learning: Education has become more student-centric, with a greater focus on understanding individual learning styles, interests, and capabilities. There is increased emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity instead of rote learning.

Holistic Development: There’s also a growing awareness of the importance of holistic development. Hence, extracurricular activities, sports, arts, and emotional intelligence are getting more attention in the curriculum.

Skill-Based Learning: Recognizing the importance of practical skills for employability, there’s an increasing focus on skill-based and vocational education.

Inclusion and Equity: Efforts are being made to ensure greater inclusion and equity in education, addressing the diverse needs of students from various socio-economic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds.

Going forward, how do you see Indian pedagogy changing?

Going forward, Indian pedagogy is likely to undergo significant changes as NEP 2020 seeks to transform the current education system and make it more holistic, flexible and student-centered. Some of the key emphasis being laid by this progressive policy are:

  • Integration of technology and digital tools into the curriculum
  • Focus on developing 21st Century skills
  • Greater emphasis on Student agency
  • Increased flexibility in curriculum design and assessment methods

According to me, the future of Indian pedagogy is expected to be influenced by various factors, such as technological advancements, evolving societal needs and global trends in education.

Looking ahead, we anticipate Indian pedagogy to undergo significant changes. The evolving landscape of education, advancements in technology, and the goals outlined in the NEP 2020 are expected to shape the future of Indian pedagogy.

One key shift that I envision is a greater emphasis on skill development and competency-based education, moving away from a content-centric approach. Critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration skills will be prioritized to equip students with practical capabilities.

The integration of technology into the classroom will become more prevalent, with digital resources, online platforms, and educational tools enhancing teaching and learning experiences. Blended learning models, combining traditional instruction with online components, will gain momentum, providing flexibility and expanding access to education.

These changes will foster well-rounded individuals equipped with the necessary skills and competencies to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

Indian pedagogy is on the cusp of a transformative period marked by several exciting trends:

Technology-Driven Learning: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transition to digital learning in India, and it is expected to continue its upward trajectory. We will see more of online classes, digital textbooks, and tech-based learning platforms. Educational technologies like AI, VR/AR, and machine learning will make learning more interactive, personalized, and accessible.

Personalized Learning: With adaptive learning technologies, we can expect a move towards more personalized education that adapts to each student’s learning pace and style. This approach will ensure that no student is left behind and that each student can maximize their potential.

Skill-Based Education: There is an increasing awareness about the need for skill-based rather than rote learning in India. This will lead to more vocational training and hands-on practical learning to better equip students for the future job market.

Inclusion of Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL): Emphasizing skills like empathy, emotional management, and social interaction is a trend expected to grow. This holistic education approach will equip students to deal with real-world challenges.

Interdisciplinary Approach: We can anticipate a shift from a rigid, siloed approach to a more interdisciplinary learning style that encourages critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Focus on Sustainability: As environmental consciousness grows, sustainability is becoming a more integrated part of the curriculum. Education will aim to foster a generation of eco-conscious citizens.

How will the emergence of new technology (artificial intelligence for example) impact teaching methods, positively and/or negatively?

In my opinion, the impact of AI on the education system will be both positive as well as negative. The positive impacts are as follows:

  •  
    • It will offer greater flexibility in teaching and learning process that will provide more scope for creativity and innovation
    • Increased opportunities for personalised learning
    • Improved assessments that will provide more accurate and timely feedback
    • Improved learning outcomes and increased engagement and motivation through immersive technologies
    • Easy access to good quality educational resources
    • Effective and efficient use of teacher time and resources

However, there are potential negative impacts of AI on teaching and learning. They are:

  •  
    • Heavy dependence on technology leading to diminished critical thinking and problem-solving skills
    • Increased distraction and lack of human connection and psychological well-being of students
    • Data loss, plagiarism and cyber safety issues etc

However, the impact of AI will depend on how it is used and implemented. With careful planning, investment and ethical considerations, AI will revolutionize education in a positive way. It is important to ensure that it complements rather than replace human teachers!

The emergence of new technologies is expected to have a profound impact on teaching methods, presenting both positive and negative aspects.

On the positive side, technology can greatly enhance teaching methods by providing access to a vast array of digital resources, multimedia content, and online platforms. Teachers can leverage these resources to create more engaging and interactive lessons, catering to diverse learning styles. Visual aids, simulations, educational games, and virtual reality experiences can bring concepts to life and make learning more exciting.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. Dependence on technology may lead to a reduction in human interaction and personalized attention. Some argue that the role of a teacher in fostering social-emotional skills, mentorship, and building relationships with students may be compromised in a technology-driven environment.

Furthermore, the ethical implications of technology in education must be carefully considered. Issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and equitable access to technology can arise and need to be addressed to ensure fairness and inclusivity in educational settings.

Ultimately, the impact of technology will depend on how it is integrated and utilized. Striking a balance is the key.

The emergence of new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming education in significant ways, providing both benefits and challenges.

ChatGPT: The emergence of new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), is expected to have significant implications for teaching methods in India and globally. The impact could be both positive and negative:

Positive Impacts:

Personalized Learning: AI can make education more personalized and adaptive. It can help in understanding the learning patterns and capabilities of students, providing them with personalized study materials, and adapting teaching methods according to their needs.

Intelligent Tutoring: AI-powered tutoring systems can provide individual students with immediate feedback, answer their doubts, and explain complex concepts effectively. They can serve as a supplement to classroom teaching.

Efficient Administrative Tasks: AI can automate numerous administrative tasks such as grading, attendance tracking, and scheduling. This will allow teachers to spend more time on teaching and interacting with students.

Access to Quality Education: With the help of AI, high-quality learning resources can be made accessible to students in remote or rural areas. Online learning platforms, virtual classrooms, and digital content can bridge the gap between urban and rural education.

Real-time Monitoring and Analytics: AI-powered systems can provide real-time monitoring of students’ performance and suggest improvements based on analyzed data.

Negative Impacts:

Digital Divide: While AI has the potential to democratize education, there’s a risk that it could widen the digital divide. Students with limited access to technology or unreliable internet connections, which are quite common in some parts of India, may be left behind.

Data Privacy and Security: AI systems require vast amounts of data to function effectively. This raises concerns about the privacy and security of students’ data.

Teacher-Student Relationship: While AI can take over certain tasks, it cannot replace the emotional intelligence and human connection that teachers provide. Over-reliance on AI could impact the teacher-student relationship negatively.

Job Displacement: There are fears that AI could potentially replace teachers. However, it’s more likely that the role of the teacher will shift to one of a facilitator or guide.

Quality and Bias: AI is dependent on the data it’s trained on. If the data is biased or of poor quality, the AI’s recommendations and teachings will be too.

For India to fully benefit from the potential of AI in education, it is necessary to overcome infrastructural challenges, invest in high-quality digital resources, provide adequate teacher training, and establish robust data privacy and security policies. Furthermore, it’s crucial to ensure that AI is used as a tool to assist teachers, not replace them, and that all students have equal access to these technologies.

In your opinion, is the future of Indian education bright?

Yes, very much so. If the NEP 2020 is implemented effectively and followed appropriately, the future of education in India appears to be very promising with the policy’s futuristic approach.

With sustained efforts and investment, it is possible to build a world class education system that prepares students to be future ready with necessary skills to thrive in the international economy while simultaneously fostering social and economic growth

Yes, the future of Indian education is bright. With ongoing reforms and technology, the system is poised to provide quality education, empower students, and prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Efforts towards bridging educational gaps, promoting teacher upskilling, and fostering a learner-centric approach are paving the way for a transformative and inclusive education system that will benefit generations to come.

The future of Indian education has potential to be bright based on several factors, although it depends on continued development and addressing certain challenges.

Digitalization and E-Learning: The advancement of technology and increase in internet penetration in India has opened up new avenues in the field of education. With the rise of e-learning platforms, students from all over the country can access quality education, regardless of their geographical location.

Government Initiatives: The government of India has launched several initiatives to improve the quality of education in the country. For example, the ‘New Education Policy 2020’ aims to overhaul the education system, focus on experiential learning, and encourage critical thinking.

Increasing Investment in Education: There has been a growing interest and investment in the Indian education sector, both from private players and from the government. This can lead to improved infrastructure, quality of teaching, and educational resources.

However, there are certain challenges that need to be addressed:

Rural-Urban Divide: Despite advancements, there is a substantial gap in the quality of education and resources available in urban and rural areas. Bridging this gap is essential for a brighter future.

Quality of Education: While access to education has improved over the years, the quality of education, especially in public schools, needs to be improved.

Teacher Training: Lack of well-trained teachers can hinder the progress of the education sector. Therefore, improving teacher training programs is crucial.

In conclusion, while the potential for a bright future in Indian education exists due to technological advancements, governmental policy, and increased investment, challenges remain that need to be addressed to fully realize this potential.

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