|The office of SCERT at Mahendru in Patna. Pictures by Jai Prakash
What has State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) done to train untrained teachers in government schools?
In Bihar, there are 60 state-run institutes that train teachers at the elementary school level. These training centres are primary teacher training colleges. Various training programmes are going on at the school-level. “Pratibadhta” is one such programme and it is meant for high school teachers. As part of the programme, the teachers are trained for five days.
Similarly, SCERT runs “Talim” — a programme that tries to motivate the teachers. For science teachers, there is a programme called “Utprerak”. As part of the programme, teachers specialising in science subjects are provided with a five-day training that deals with new scientific innovations. For mathematics teachers, there is programme called “Bhaskar” at the high-school level. We also run a scheme called “Jagriti” for headmasters. It’s a five-day module on the administrative and financial powers of a headmaster.
Don’t you think that the state needs a large number of teachers’ training colleges after the implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act?
With the implementation of RTE Act, the biggest challenge for the state government is to provide training to teachers. In Bihar, we have 60 elementary teachers’ training colleges. The institutes train teachers working in elementary schools (classes I to VIII). The training programme is of two-year duration. Any one after passing Intermediate (Class XII) can get admitted to these government colleges. After getting training from such schools, the teachers have to guide students up to Class VIII. Training is provided for this in subjects such as science, mathematics, social science and languages. Besides, there are six BEd colleges and students, after graduation, can get admitted to these institutes.
Why is the number of government teachers training centres and BEd colleges so few in the state?
When Bihar was undivided, it had 81 elementary teachers’ training schools. But after the state’s bifurcation in 2000, 21 of these colleges went to Jharkhand and Bihar was left with 60. Besides, the government’s policy after 1992 led to the decline of standard of the government schools. In 1992, the government formulated a policy that doesn’t make teachers’ training mandatory for candidates joining state-run schools. The result was obvious — government schools started losing their reputation. However, after the Centre formulated National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) in 1994, teachers’ training was made mandatory. Based on its guidelines, NCTE was ready to provide affiliation to government elementary teachers’ training schools and BEd colleges. But because of the state government’s lack of initiative, many colleges didn't go for affiliation. The situation has now changed and we have received affiliation for 29 government elementary teachers’ training schools. Affiliation certificates have arrived for 22 schools, while the rest are continuing with their elementary school programmes.
What is the future plan of SCERT in providing training to teachers working in government schools?
Our plan is to provide training to 40,000 untrained teachers in government schools. The education department has decided to hire the services of state-owned teachers’ training centres to meet the huge requirement of trained teachers in government schools. Nalanda Open University, State Council of Educational Research and Training, and Bihar Board of Open Schooling and Examination will provide training to teachers in government schools with a focus on providing quality education to schoolchildren. Besides, the education department, in association with Indira Gandhi National Open University, has trained 1.52 lakh teachers in government schools.
There were talks about the state government hiring services of international agencies or joining hands with World Bank for providing teachers’ training. What is the status of the plan?
The state government has approached World Bank for loans to train teachers. As part of the project, the bank will bear 70 per cent of the cost, while the state's share will be 30 per cent. The bank will also help in the infrastructure development of the teachers' training schools and colleges and introduce Information Communication Training. With the implementation of RTE, the role of trained teachers has gained much importance. The state has announced that it will appoint 3 lakh teachers in government schools in the next five years. The government approached the bank because it is a big task to train such a huge number of teachers.
What is the progress on preparing new syllabus for students based on NCERT module?
The NCERT has given us the power to make certain changes in the syllabus, depending upon the geographical and historical importance of the region. We have prepared a new syllabus, which is being implemented in government schools. The changes that we have done in our syllabus include giving more importance and coverage to historical personalities from the state. For example Veer Kuer Singh may not be important in history books for students in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But for us, it is very important to have separate chapters on the life and contribution of Kuer Singh in history books. Similarly, there has been a stress on the geography of region. In 2006, the SCERT took up the task of preparing new syllabus and introduced it in various classes in successive years. The new syllabus that was prepared was introduced in Class IX in 2009. Similarly, the new syllabus for Class X was introduced in 2010. For Classes XI and XII, the new syllabus was introduced in 2011.
What are the plans of SCERT in school education?
The SCERT has tied up with Quality Council of India to accreditate schools on the basis of various parametres. The Quality Council of India stresses the need for development of a standard for schools to ensure quality of education across the nation. In the line of recommendations made by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2007, the council has developed the Accreditation Standard for Quality School Governance.
What would you have been if not a bureaucrat?
I would have been teaching in some government college.
‘Sex education? No way’
There were reports on introducing sex education in school by SCERT. Do you think it will be good for students?
The reports about introduction of sex education in the curriculum are baseless. The state government has no plan to introduce sex education in school. The SCERT provides training to teachers teaching in classes IX and XI about life-skill development. But it doesn't concern sex education. The trained teachers provide information and knowledge an adolescent should have, but it is not sex education.
About Hassan Warris
Hassan Warris joined Bihar Education Service in 1995 after clearing the Bihar Public Service Commission. His first posting was at Primary Teacher Education College, Simaria, Chatra (now in Jharkhand). After serving as principal of PTEC, he was shifted to Hazaribagh as deputy superintendent of education. In November 2007, he was made the director of SCERT and since then, he is working in this capacity. Hassan did his matriculation from CMS High School, Bhagalpur, and passed Intermediate from GLA College, Daltonganj. He graduated from Ranchi College and did his postgraduation in psychology from Ranchi University. One of Hasan’s daughters is a computer engineer working in the USA, while another is a Class XII student. His son is studying engineering in Bangalore.