Increasing compliance is definitely not a problem solving tool. In a recent move UGC has decided to do away with M.Phil as the required qualification for teaching, raising the bar to Phd / NET or SLET. The reason sighted for this change is the ease with which one is acquiring an M.Phil degree – but will this move solve the quality of education / teaching?
How can increasing the base qualification ensure quality and performance of a teacher? Raising compliance to a higher entry criterion cannot solve this problem. In fact by lowering the tax burden to realistic needs, we are today seeing more people pay taxes. Increase in total tax filings due to this is more rather than any steps that were taken to enforce compliance and checks.
To solve quality of education, teaching has to be made more apparent and attractive as a profession. How can we do this?
- Respect It: Today while there is a healthy welcome for many new career options, teaching is not being promoted amidst youth as a lucrative, challenging and high-satisfaction job. It is still relegated in the minds of youth to old / boring / book warmish profile. While a professorship after an MS in US is appreciated, youth do not vie for professorship even in the top most university as a goal. Very often, ‘teachers’ are made not by choice but by the constraint of not finding any other option. So creation of a healthy respect through awareness of teaching as a profession should be undertaken on a war footing.
- Make it comparable with any other profession at levels of performance, pay and rewards: From yore teaching has been a lack luster profession. A teacher is portrayed in all forms of media and art as a ‘poor man’ struggling to make his ends meet. While the pay commissions have tried their level best to put the remuneration at par with any other profession, the awareness of the same is lacking in the general public. Also there is not enough healthy competition between the ranks of the teacher community that can fuel performance that can be globally recognized and showcased
- Reward and Celebrate great teachers: It is the duty of educational institutions and governments to recognize, reward and respect contribution in the field of teaching. While there are state and national awards for teaching, these lack the packaging that any other award gets. While schools are quick to do PR based on their meritorious alumni, seldom school showcase their best teaching talent as their identity. External, visible, continuous and considerable recognition of teaching expertise is a must to attract passionate minds to take up the challenge
- Make research and publication as compulsory requirement for higher level teaching: For many of us, getting a professorship or a teachers position signifies the end of our progress. We end up for the next two-three decades teaching the same subject in the same manner from the same text books. Teachers are not to consider themselves as vehicles of knowledge dissemination – they are to adopt the role of knowledge creators where a considerable portion of their time should be committed to developing new frameworks, models and methods that can add to the knowledge and method repository.
- Create opportunity for recognition: Exchange programs, performance based incentives, competition amongst peers, conferences, paper presentation should all be considered as tools used in conjunction with each other to create an environment of constant learning and inventing for a teacher. Every teacher must be presented with multiple avenues through which they can hone their talent and passion for the subject and profession, while getting their due recognition from their institution, peer level, national level and also in the global arena.
Downside of just increasing the entry barrier without adequate control on quality of output will only create more new loopholes and short cuts. What may now seem as a prudent act may work as a short term boon but on the long term it will become a bane – making us question the authenticity of the new entry barrier!