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Janitor CertificateA few days back the newspaper the Times of India posted the article "1 in 5 primary teachers unqualified". In it they present impressive statistics as to the horrible disaster that India faces due to lack of qualified primary teachers. The title already spoke of the low average Indian Teacher qualification level (80%) but the article itself present us with statistics from other regions, the worse one being Arunachal Prades with 29%. The horror!!!!

As if these numbers were not horrifying enough, a professor at Delhi University's department of education states that "It's essential that teachers, especially of smaller children, be professionally trained". Aha. Uhu. Maybe?

This professor continues by stating that:

"Just knowing a subject or being a graduate is not sufficient qualification to become an elementary school teacher. You need to be trained in understanding the learning process of children, their diversity, and you need to develop necessary teaching skills under trained supervision,"

Seems reasonable right? Well… not a chance!

THE SITUATION IN INDIA

Let's begin by stating that primary education (and secondary if you ask) is a little bit of a basket case in India. India is a poor country with mandated public education. Politicians are too busy buying votes to spend enough budget in primary schools and as a consequence of this fact there isn't enough infrastructure and there aren't enough "qualified" teachers (which command a higher salary). If you are interested in a summary, go to Wikipedia and search for "Education in India". As a consequence of all of this, India's primary education is, to be polite, poor. No surprises here.

STATUTORY STUFF

Many of the poorer regions began to appoint contractual or para-teachers since the 1990's primarily because these people demanded lower wages. This is clearly contrary to India's law which states that a teacher's qualification is controlled by a Central Statutory body, the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). The NCTE came into existence in pursuance of the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 (No. 73 of 1993) on the 17th August,1995 as a statutory body. All key members of the NCTE are directly appointed by the Indian government and all the NCTE funding comes from the Indian government budget. Basically, the NCTE is an Indian government organization filled-in with Indian apparatchiks (yes, they have them too just like any other country).

As such, this body of apparatchiks holds absolute power (i.e. a broad mandated) to do as they please when it comes to teacher's education:

"It shall be the duty of the Council to take all such steps as it may think fit for ensuring planned and co-ordinated development of teacher education and for the determination and maintenance of standards for teacher education and for the purposes of performing its functions" (Section III of the Act).

IMPACT

From this information and the information from the article, we know that the number of qualified teachers has been in decrease at least since 2006. Concomitantly, this must have caused a drop of grades ever since, right? Non-qualified teachers are inferior to qualified ones, right? If not, why bother qualifying, right? Let's see what the numbers have to say.

Primary Statistics In India

Humm….. this can't be! Marks are not only not dropping but they are increasing!!! This can't be. Well, according to the DISE 2009-10 Flash Statistics report titled "Elementary Education in India - Progress towards UEE" from the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India (from where these numbers were taken), this is exactly what is happening. And there you have it, from the horse's mouth. The official truth.

SOOOO….

Let's see if we understand this correctly. India has a problem with primary education, to a large degree due to lack of government spending in that area. In order to compensate for this deficiency, many areas decided to hire non-qualified teachers at a cheaper rate thus at least ensuring students will have teachers.

These non-qualified teachers know their subjects and / or they are graduates but in either case they are not formally qualified. Despite this apparent drawback, they have, somehow, managed to improve the quality of education. Soo… why again is that "qualification" such an issue? Oh yes…because

They must be "trained in understanding the learning process of children, their diversity, and you need to develop necessary teaching skills under trained supervision,"

OK. Let's analyze this. Teachers teaching kids in primary know their stuff, there is no question about that. OK.

But, they were not "trained in understanding the learning process of children" which seems to be true but then again, considering that children's marks are rising, we think that there is a powerful argument to be made here. They may not have been trained, but sure as heck got the idea how to do this quite rapidly and they got it right! So… again, why do they need to be trained?

Oh, yes, because they need to understand children's "diversity". Uhu. Aha. Hohumm… Sorry but we don't get it. Why is that a teacher needs to understand children's diversity in order to be able to teach properly? It would seem to us that gaining general knowledge about children's diversity has more or less zero effect on their training. Teachers do not deal with children on a generic or statistical level, they deal with children one at the time. If the teacher is a reasonable person, this teacher should be able to adapt to individual circumstances. Granted. General knowledge may facilitate this process but the key element is teacher's adaptability, which cannot be taught! So… again, why do they need to be trained?

Ahh… yes… because teachers "need to develop necessary teaching skills under trained supervision,". Well… considering that they already have the technical skills (they know the subjects or they are graduates) and they have proved to be adaptable and capable of training, why exactly do they need "supervision"?

The answer is, they don't!

And moving a step forward, we wonder how would all those people in India providing homeschooling feel about being called "untrained"? Just a thought…

PAPER FIRST CAPABILITY SECOND

This qualification nonsense is the typical enforcement "initiative" that all certification or approval or professional colleagues or state organisms or artificial monopolies (created by states) demand from people. The following is typical apparatchik thinking:

It is not possible to acknowledge that person A is perfectly capable to do a job unless this person has been certified to be able to do it by attending a pile of courses (most of which will in all likelihood be useless or of little or no value) and pass a meaningless exam. You are nothing unless we, the power, the holders of the artificial monopoly say so.

Does this make any sense to you? At all? Of course not. This is outright denial of reality. But then again, apparatchiks operate in the land of make-believe where everything is real if it is written down on a paper with official letterhead.

As the professor stated above "Just knowing a subject or being a graduate is not sufficient qualification". This is the prime example of "certification" apparatchik thinking. Paper first, capability second.

BUT IS IT SO?

As far as we can tell and as far as all the "certification" organizations that we have reviewed around the world, the conclusion is always the same. A certification process demands a lot from perfectly capable professionals, well above and beyond of being able to do the job. Do these arbitrary demands make professionals better at their jobs? Only marginally at best. Yet, enormous amounts of time and money are spent in "certifications" because they are "statutory", this is, arbitrarily mandated by law. Teachers "qualifications" are not the exception.

Remember, we are not talking about people incapable of doing their jobs, we are talking about theoretical deficiencies that theoretically exist on those already capable people. Worse. Those theoretical deficiencies were concocted by apparatchiks, most of which lack the experience to make any accurate judgement call. But then again, this is always how bureaucrats work. They are assigned to their posts because they can perform bureaucratic jobs, not because they have a clue what it is that they are talking about. And even in those remote circumstances when they do know, they don't live in the real world where money and time matters. Ridiculous!

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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