The University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex body of higher education, has directed all universities across India to strengthen their education departments with designing extensive and intensive training programs for teacher educators. The move will help education (B.Ed) colleges of the varsities to churn out "quality teachers".
Ved Prakash, chairman of the UGC, has written a letter to the directors of Academic Staff Colleges (ASC), which is the most integral but almost "idle" department of all central and state varsities, on June 30. The letter states, "In carrying forward our efforts towards strengthening of the teacher education programs, may I request your personal attention in ensuring….to please include teacher education in your calendar of activities and provide a significant slot for both, refresher and orientation programs for teacher educators."
The letter also reads, "This may be accorded Top Priority please." They have also been asked to submit a report of the action taken.
According to a UGC member, the direction of strengthening the education departments/colleges of the varsities has come from Smriti Irani, the Human Resources and Development Minister who is actively taking interest in improving the quality of educators across the country.
ASCs at Universities are entrusted with conducting the training programs for the faculty of all departments, in order to help them brush-up teaching skills of the professors. "However, most of these colleges are not so dynamic and their programs are also mainly ceremonial," said a professor of Mumbai university.
The teaching colleges are also marred with a lack of quality teachers and are accused of churning out "substandard teachers," which ultimately affects the quality of school education in the country.
Welcoming the move, Hari Chandan, director of Institute of Distance and Open Learning at Mumbai university, who is also a senior teacher educator, says that the UGC move is in accordance with the 2012 report of Justice Verma Commission which has recommended several reforms in the field of teachers' education. "This will certainly help educators brush-up their skills, which would subsequently help teaching schools provide better education to B.Ed students," says Prof Hari Chandan.
He however adds, "Most of the teaching colleges in India are in the private sector and suffer largely from lack of infrastructure and well-trained teachers. Varsities must include all private colleges under their ambit into this program."