TEACHER EDUCATION IN NAGALAND

 

Buno Liegise

 

INTRODUCTION

Nagaland is the 16th state of the Indian Union measuring a total of 16,579 sq km. It is home to 16 major tribes, in 11 districts. In 2001 census, it had a total population of 19,88,636 with a population density of 120 per sq km. The state is still predominantly rural, 82.26% of the population living in as many as 1278 villages. Naturally, agriculture is the chief economic activity. The history of formal education in Nagaland may be traced back to the arrival of the American missionaries to the then Naga Hills in the 1880s, almost simultaneously with the advent of British colonial power. The first school was set up in 1878 by Mrs. E.W Clark at Molungyimsen. It was a school for girls only. Most of the students later became teachers.

 

GENESIS OF  TEACHER EDUCATION

The Nagaland College of Teacher Education was established in 1975, by the State Government, in Kohima. This was the first such institution. After twenty years, in 1995, Salt Christian College, Dimapur, started its Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) course. This was followed by the Bosco College of Teacher Education, Dimapur, in 2003. The   latter two are private institutions. It is gratifying that the prestigious Indira Gandhi National Open University  began offering B.Ed. course in 2002 and Certificate in Primary Education (CPE) in 2005. There are presently 6 Government managed DIETs and 2 private run institutes providing Two Year Pre-service/In-service Teacher Education Course for primary school teachers. Three of the Government-run DIETs at Chiechama, Mokokchung and Tuensang were established in the year 1997; the other three at Dimapur, Mon and Pfütsero were more recently set up in 2006. In this field the private sector has stolen a march on the Government. St Paul Institute of Education at Phesama began primary teachers training in 1977. The Salt Christain College, Dimapur, has followed suit in 2006.

 

TYPES OF TEACHER EDUCATION IN NAGALAND

As mentioned above, the number and types of teacher education have risen in recent times with the rise in number of three more DIETs. However, as we all know, sheer numbers do not ensure quality. It may be noted that there is still no Master of Education (M.Ed.) course in the State. Two of the institutes have women principals. It was found that the Government institute had the most number of teacher educators with B.Ed and Ph.D qualifications as compared to the other two privately managed institutes. While there was uniformity of salary for the teacher educators at the starting point, there was better incentive in the Government Institute. The two private institutes also had part-time teachers who were, naturally, paid less. In case of Govt. institution ,majority belong to inservice category and in case of private institutions, majority belong to fresh category. The number of B.Ed trainees in all three Institutes ranges from 76 to 100 student trainees in a class. While the most of student trainees in Government Institute were in-service local people, majority of the student trainees from the other two Private Institutes were fresh candidates from outside the state. Of the three institutes in the State, the Government institute provides hostel facilities to girls only. Of the two private institutes, one has a hostel for boys while the other provides residential facilities to both girls and boys. All the institutes, happily, have library and laboratory facilities even if access to computer and Internet facilities are limited. Some of the institutes were understaffed with only five teacher educators each,  while one institute had as many as twenty-five teacher educators. It may be noted that these were newly opened Government institutes. There is scope for improving the staffing pattern in the DIETs.  Perhaps exposure to additional orientation and motivational programmes would add an element of purpose and mission to the teaching profession. Total number of enrolment for the in-service / pre-service teacher education is 349 in the first year in eight institutions and 110 in the second year in the four institution. It may be noted that three new Government DIETs were established in the year 2006 and one private college introduced the course only recently. 

 

IGNOU  B.Ed course Contact Centre is located at the Nagaland College of Teacher Education, Kohima and the Centres for the CPE course are  located at  the District Institutes of Education and Training at Chiechama, Mokokchung and Tuensang as well as the privately run St. Paul Institute of Education, Phesama.The annual number of applicants for the IGNOU teacher education course is gradually growing in recent years. Learning via mass media, both electronics and print, without daily interaction with faculty is still an arrangement many have not got accustomed to. The fact that many probable aspirants are not computer/ Internet savvy is a barrier. Inadequate Internet and television connectivity particularly in the remote regions of the state acts as a ‘deterrent’. However, IGNOU Regional Center Kohima has already achieved impressive results despite the bottlenecks that distance education is confronted within the state. The IGNOU instructional materials and learning packages  are much sought after by the student trainees of the conventional system and its own students. The practical aspects of the programmes also need serious attention as much depend on the hands on experience to become effective in teaching. The limited face-to face interaction between the academic councilors and the student trainees and among the student trainees themselves deprives them of the rich experiences their counter-parts in the conventional institutions enjoy. 

 

The State Council for Educational Research and Training besides managing the teacher education conducted at the DIETs, also organises short and medium term courses and trainings from time to time. The District Center for English is a five-year project, 2005 to 2010. The center conducts a ten-day programme, from time to time, for in-service graduate English teachers in schools. A certificate is issued after completion of the training. This is a program mesponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources Development. All learning and instructional materials are provided by the Central Institute for English &Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. Another noteworthy programme organised by the SCERT during 2002-2004 was titled ‘Educational Quality Improvement Program’ – popularly known as ‘EQUIP’. It was directed towards overhauling education especially in the areas of curriculum development, teacher training, text-book writing and capacity building. ‘EQUIP’ was  sponsored by the UNICEF. As many as 42 programmes were conducted in the form of workshops, seminars, training sessions and the like. EQUIP culminated in an adaptation of pedagogy called Activity Based Learning (ABL) approach. It also resulted in the development of 17  textbooks for Class I to Class IV and integrated learning.

 

TEACHER TRAINING CURRICULA

The B.Ed course provided at the Nagaland College of Teacher Education  was recently reviewed on the basis of the model provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The new course of study included four core papers, which are compulsory, two optional papers (method papers) and one elective subject (special paper). Evaluation scheme for the theory is 75% external and 25% internal. The total marks for the theory papers are 700. Practical work consist of field-based experiences including practice in teaching (micro and macro), peer observation, community work; work experience (food preservation, campus beautification, painting/art, knitting/embroidery, envelop making, toy making, paper cutting, candle making, cookery skill, decoration items etc.) and co-curricular activities (physical, health education). Scheme of evaluation for practical is : Field -based Experience -300 Marks (External 62.5% & Internal 37.5%); and Co-curricular Activities & Work Experience -100 Marks (External      50% & Internal 50%).Total  Marks of  the B.Ed course is 1,100 marks.

 

The course structure of Pre-service /In-service Teacher Education conducted at the various institutes for primary school teacher preparation included (a) foundation course (b) content and methodology (c) practicum & field work - internship: micro and block teaching. Report writing of one project work is also included. Evaluation is done on the basis of essay type questions, short answer questions, very short questions and objective type of questions. A scheme of 75% external and 25% internal is followed.

 

The programme structure for IGNOU B.Ed. Course consists of core courses (20 credits), content-based methodology courses (8 credits), special courses (4 credits), practical courses (16 credits). IGNOU CPE course structure consists of four theory papers with 10 credits - teaching language, teaching of mathematics, teaching of environmental studies and understanding the primary school child. The practical component has 8 credits, which covers school-based activities, workshop based activities and practice teaching. The main aim of the programme is to cover the backlog of a large number of untrained teachers working in primary/elementary schools in the North- Eastern States and Sikkim.

 

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Most of the institutes/colleges have libraries and laboratories except in the newly established institutes. Keeping in mind the rapidly changing world, teacher education institutes also need to upgrade its facilities  -  introduce new and innovative methods and materials  -  to meet the aspirations of the people and demands of the evolving society. The strategy to improve the quality of teacher education in the state may take into account the need to stop political interference in the recruitment of both teacher educators and trainees, particularly in the Government institutions. Some suggestions for improvement of teacher education in the state are given below:

1. There is advance preparation with head of schools  for conducting the  practice teaching. However, the half-hearted support given by some of the schools leaves much to be desired.  It  may be required for the Directorate of School Education, the State Council for Educational Research and Training and the Nagaland Board of School Education to address this perennial problem. A directive from higher authority almost always has weightage. Rotation of schools for practice teaching  may  prove to be a viable option.

2. Practical work comprising of field-based experience, peer observation, community work and work experience should be monitored and supervised stringently by the teacher educator in-charge. The importance of timely and accurate evaluation and feedback cannot be emphasised enough. Criteria for evaluation should be defined clearly and communicated. The duration of internship may be utilised creatively. It is no longer unusual for a teacher to do administrative work, handle student’s queries and problems with the ease of a trained counsellor. Talented multifaceted teachers are the flavour of the times and teacher education institutions too should encourage student trainees to gain cross-functional expertise beyond theoretical  knowledge of subject matter.

3. Professional ethics should be promoted during the entire period of teacher education and training. Teacher trainees may be evaluated and records maintained in terms of grades on certain definable aspects of personality such as sincerity, punctuality, regularity, cooperation and participation. A special pledge-taking programme may be organised as the training period comes to a close in order to inculcate professional code of conduct. Playing truant, irregularity, proxy teaching and lack of discipline and dedication in work are contributing to erosion of academic quality and values.

4. The culture element seems to be largely absent in the education system. One way around this problem would be to prepare teacher trainees to make use of  indigenous material and device ways and means to promote culture through the instructional aids they formulate and construct.

5. Bulky syllabi, particularly of the B.Ed. course, adversely affect the quality of teaching and performance.Learning becomes a psychological stress instead of being a joyful experience. Currently, institutions are able to cover the course within the given period of one year but with difficulty. The B.Ed.course may be extended to one and half years if not two years.

6. Hostels for student trainees and residential quarters for teacher educators are essential as transport and communication means remain deplorable particularly in the districts of Mon, Tuensang, and Phek to cite a few.

7. Teacher education institutions should not merely become teaching/training shops but should kindle interest among their faculty members for research and innovation. Institutions should provide scope for serious research projects. For example, one study that is long over due is to examine the effectiveness of teacher education in the state. Further, teacher educators may be motivated to undertake Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) studies to better meet with future challenges.

They should be encouraged to attend refresher courses and orientation programmes. The State Government and/or the Nagaland University need to recognize the growing demand for provision for Master of Education (M.Ed.) course in Nagaland and expedite the process of running the course.

8. Better coordination among various institutions is urgently called for. Lack of communication appears to hamper effective implementation of teacher education programmes. For instance, delayed declaration of B.Ed. results is proving to be a formidable problem for many a teacher trainee. Late communication of guidelines for examination is yet another debilitating factor in the functioning of the institutions. In this regard, it may be suggested that the Nagaland University in consultation with the institutions should  draw up an annual calendar for teacher education in the state. Similar actions could be taken up by other authorities.

10.Concerned authority needs to  address the issue that may be arising out of the use of different nomenclatures for the same teacher education programme, in respect to In-service Teacher Education (ISTE) and Pre-service Teacher Education (PSTE).

11.Awareness must be created about the value of various teacher education and training programmes provided by IGNOU through distance education mode in the state. Wide dissemination of information with respect to the time, criteria and procedure of admission must be made. Better coordination between the Directorate of School Education and the State Council for Educational Research and Training should be established for facilitating smooth functioning of the programmes. On the curriculum transaction, it was found that the quality of study materials was high but the conduct of various practical activities needed to be better scrutinised and coordinated.

 

CONCLUSION

Recognising the need for quality improvement is not the same as dismissing teacher education as a non-beneficial programme. It is taking cognizance of the potential of teacher education to transform the quality of school education in the state. Nagaland is changing and teacher education cannot remain out of sync with the changed and changing aspirations, needs, values and preferences of the people. It is the responsibility of teacher education institutions to make proactive contributions to the emergence of finer values in the socio-cultural-political life of the people and to take ‘strong measures’ to raise the bar of performance and productivity in a creative way. The consequence of not doing anything is certain to be serious.

 

REFERENCES

IGNOU (2003)Certificate in Primary Education. Handbook of Practical Activities for Teacher Trainees. IGNOU, New Delhi.

IGNOU (2005) Student Handbook & Prospectus (B.Ed). IGNOU, Delhi.

Molungyimsen Baptist Church (2001) Molungyimsen 1876-2001. Quasqui Centennial Nüngwo. Molungyimsen Baptist Church. Tuli.

SCERT (2004) Curriculum cum Syllabus. State Council for Educational Research and Training, Nagaland, Kohima