With the government firm on setting a standardised qualification for teachers under the RTE Act, alternative schools, which are established in slums and remote rural areas catering to underprivileged children, are facing a new challenge. Teachers in these schools have been teaching for years without having the mandatory BEd degree.
“National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has clearly specified the minimum qualifications for teachers in schools in 2001, as per the mandate under the National Council for Teacher Education Act, and also under the RTE Act, which state that all teachers appointed by the government/employing authority should be trained and have the minimum qualifications for different levels in school education — pre-primary, elementary, secondary etc. We want the teachers to be trained because we believe that trained teachers can perform better or at least to the minimum level of requirement. There are people who are gifted and also there are people who are not meant for teaching. Training them and keeping a record of them streamlines things,” says SK Chauhan, research officer, NCTE.
And yet, we have alternative schools in rural areas where teachers have been teaching for years without a formal BEd degree. Stressing that alternate schools need not close because they are the institutes that promote education, Chauhan says, “Teachers of such schools also have the option of getting their degrees from a recognised university. Under provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, states/union territories (UT) have to ensure training to teachers who do not have a formal degree over a period of five years. According to the system, if they don’t have a minimum qualification, they cannot teach,” says Chauhan.
Elaborating on the facility, Chauhan informs, “Every state and UT government has a centrally sponsored scheme - District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), besides other NCTE recognised institutions through which appointed, but untrained teachers can get formal training in two years’ time, while working. For that, printed material is provided and contact classes are held. Teachers, who do not have a formal training, can avail of this scheme.”