Rebuild skills of teachers, depoliticize education: Vice-President

Vice-President Hamid Ansari has asked for immediate steps to
today seek quick steps to rebuild skills of teachers and to depoliticise
education in order to improve the quality of teaching.

While addressing the 44th Convocation of Utkal University,
Ansari said “The key to improving quality of education system is to bring
the focus back on teachers. It is a matter of concern that our society and
polity today does not accord that primacy and reverence to teachers.”

Seeking concrete steps to depoliticise education and cease
to view teacher appointments as patronage or largesse, Ansari said politically
empowering teachers, while professionally dis-empowering them, was a disservice
to the cause of education. 

He said the current system of teacher recruitment, teaching
methods, performance assessment, incentive and reward pattern and way of
accountability raised many questions. 

“Far too often the focus, regrettably, is on completing
the syllabus rather than on cultivating critical thinking skills and
competencies. This needs to be corrected,” the vice-president said. 

He said that the need of the hour was to painstakingly
rebuild the professional identity of teachers, nurture their skills and
professional competence through continuing education; he said adding it must be
ensured that their work reflected Constitutional values and society needed to
recognise their work and reward them appropriately. 

Referring to Yashpal Committee tasked to suggest measures
for rejuvenation of higher education, Ansari said its report pointed out that
universities remained under-managed and badly governed with constricted
autonomy, internal subversion within academia and multiple and opaque
regulatory systems. 

Speaking of higher education scenario of the country, he
quoted the Yashpal Committee Report which states ‘we have followed policies of
fragmenting our educational enterprises into cubicles’ and that ‘most
instrumentalities of our education harm the potential of human mind for
constructing and creating new knowledge’. 

Thus higher education in India suffered the pincer effect of
low enrollment and poor quality. The Approach Paper to 12th Five Year Plan
called for “a strategic shift from mere expansion to improvement in
quality higher education” for which “the focus should be not only on
larger enrollment, but also on the quality of the expansion.” 

In order to improve quality of education, Ansari said
“we must shift focus to learning outcomes from the current emphasis on
input indicators such as infrastructure, teaching faculty and staff employed
and resources made available.” 

“There is also an urgent need to move away from the
lure of branding and elitist education. The average institution must improve
for overall institutional improvement in the human resource development sector.
The enormous resources deployed for education in the last decade in terms of
human and material resources must be justified by vastly improved learning
outcomes,” the vice-president said.

State universities, and the 30,000 strong college systems,
which were the backbone and represent the bulk of enrollment, must obtain
greater funds, create new infrastructure and enrich their existing academic

“We must create avenues for skills training and
vocational education so that entering universities does not become a default
choice for the sake of employment, particularly for those who might not have
interest in the subject or desire for higher education.”

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