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The right to education
Vinod Anand | 07 Feb 2012

The Right to Education may promise free and compulsory education to all but what will kids do without good mentors?

WITH BRILLIANT minds racing to get jobs in industry the teaching profession has been hard hit. Of those still in the profession, some fail to notice conditions like dyslexia and autism and are ill-equipped to deal with differently-abled children. The huge vacuum has left educationists concerned about the endangered tribe called "good and effective teachers."

There is a lacuna in teacher training programs, and this is due for poor teaching standards. B. Ed and most other teacher education courses continue to be rooted in the British lesson plan model of 1890s. According to the All India Forum for Right to Education these courses are outdated and oblivious of the context of the child. Indian society, which is hierarchically divided along the fault lines of class, caste, religion and gender, no teacher can teach without being aware of the implications of this social reality. This is why most teachers are not well prepared to deal with Dali, tribal, OBC and Muslim children, who represent a large portion of India's population.

Even in pre-school teaching courses, the content is crunched into a one-year diploma or even two-month courses. Experts feel that these short-term courses miss courses out on the skill of understanding the child's psyche. With the emergence of nuclear families, play schools have mushroomed in every city. This has created a demand for qualified teachers, increasing the need for training courses. If a one-year full-time course can barely cover the basics of child development, methodology and curriculum planning, imagine how inadequate a two- month course is Lesley Young, a teacher for 39 years, had taken a two-year training course which only covered subjects like hand writing and pronunciation.

She recollects having a child in her class who fell asleep almost daily. Instead of scolding him, she interacted with him and found out his areas of interest. Pointing out more serious cases, Lesley says she has come across children dealing with divorced parents, sibling rivalry or violence at home. Ore needs to understand kids' psychology in order to help them, she says. However, there are a few courses which incorporate the needful. Bachelor of Elementary Education, a four- year degree program offered at Delhi University prepares teachers to understand the problems of students from various socio-economic backgrounds. The training offered today is in the form of short-term courses with inadequate syllabi. Educators need to understand why after all these years we are asking for Right to Education.