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Teachers, backbone of the Education System

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teacher Backbone of the Education SystemShaping the Future of Education!

The world of education has changed tremendously over the last few decades.

The paradigm shift in education calls for a change from the traditional method of schooling to one that will empower the learners for the critical exam called Life.

School education in the techno-savvy world of today has become a complex subject. School architectural designs need to focus on provision of learning spaces, platforms for experimental, exploring and experiential learning, and classroom technologies that create innovative and interactive learning environments. Curriculum designs are increasingly becoming customized to enhance individual learning. The success of this continuum remains a huge challenge unless we have the core force of quality teachers.

Almost a decade back, in the international PISA assessments in 2000, Finland emerged on top with a high level of academic achievement. Educationists and policy makers in education all across the globe were surprised to witness the “Finnish Miracle,” as it came to be called. And it led research in education to find out the secret.

Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, in its research in September 2010, states, “ In examining the sources of Finland’s dramatic rise to the top, research shows that one key element that has impacted Finland’s success above all others: excellent teachers. Teachers also are the main reason Finland now leads the international pack in literacy, science, and math.”

Teachers are the backbone of an education system. What teachers know and do is the most important influence on what students learn. The role of the teachers and their competency in transactional processes of educational curriculum remain crucial to an effective outcome of learning.

Emphasizing the need for quality teachers, UNESCO report-2009 (on projecting the demand for teachers to meet the goals of Universal Primary Education by 2015) clearly states that “Without adequate numbers of professionally qualified teachers, including female teachers, who are deployed in the right places, well-remunerated and motivated, adequately supported and proficient in local languages, we cannot offer the world’s children quality education.”

Since times immemorial, teachers’ role in effective learning has been recognized. Several decades ago, the Education Commission of India (1964-66) accepted this influence of teachers in powerful words: “No system can rise above the status of its teachers…” There have been numerous efforts for improving teacher education, yet a lot needs to be done, especially with the technological innovations that are transforming every aspect of life. The emerging complexity of global economic, social and environmental challenges is creating demands for an education framework that would prepare the children of today to be innovative, creative and skilled citizens of tomorrow. Hence, the paramount need of the present times is indeed “quality teachers.”

Leave alone the dismal performance of Indian students at PISA, the Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) MHRD release 2010 and Pratham’s survey are for sure a matter of concern for low learning outcome in primary schools, as indicated by the students’ inability to read simple sentences or solve a mathematics problem.

“The Indian education system is under tremendous pressure to adapt to the growing demand for meaningful education for all, and the teacher, the only visible functionary in an otherwise opaque system, is facing the brunt of the attack from all sides,” says Teacher Booklet 2008, by Education Resource Unit, a project supported by Azim Premji Foundation, Bangalore.

The issue of quality education and teachers does seem to be gaining momentum across the globe, as the European Commission observed in August 2007 on proposals to improve the quality of teacher training in the EU: “High-quality teaching is a prerequisite for high-quality education and training, which are in turn a powerful determinant of Europe’s long-term competitiveness and capacity to create more jobs and growth.”

Preparing the students of today for tomorrow is a huge responsibility of the educators. With technology growing exponentially and changing the world around us, the future remains unpredictable. The skills required for future jobs that would use technologies, probably do not even exist today. It’s undeniably a tough task and a huge responsibility on educators.

Building schools for the future actually demand preparing the work force of teachers who can and are willing to learn to keep up with the emerging trends in education. Even tougher than creating this workforce is improving the quality of existing teaching community and train them to deliver the essentials of 21st century education. We need teachers and trainers, but where are they?

The huge demand supply gap projected by various statistical reports as per increase in the school going population of India and in the world is a cause of concern for the education sector.

It may be seen as a healthy sign for moving towards teaching as a professional career, but a lot remains to be done to make it lucrative enough to encourage talented youngsters opt for it. The teaching profession is poised for a big leap as teachers undoubtedly hold the key to a bright future for the world.

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