If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” This Confucian saying has a significant impact on the role of individuals in shaping a society, however big or small it may be.
The teacher-student relationship is eternally valid as there has been no recorded evidence in the past nor will there be one in the future of a teacher-student divorce.
Teacher policies globally recognise the unprecedented pace at which the dynamics of the 21st century teaching profession is shifting and calls for sweeping reforms in teacher education policies, systems and practices.
There is no disagreement hence to the fact that teachers and teaching quality is the double-barrelled gun that can fire a knowledge explosion—the explosion being multi-dimensional to include not only academic knowledge but also cognitive abilities in addition to human values to life. The World Innovative Summit on Education and Qatar Foundation in association with National Institute of Education, Singapore, published a report recently on ‘Teacher Policies: Global Best Practices for Developing the Teaching Profession’.
The report is a result of a survey that captures various established and emerging high-performing systems in Finland, Singapore, Ontario, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Massachusetts, California, South Korea, New Zealand, and Qatar.
The report identifies 10 key areas for countries and societies to align themselves to shape the careers of teachers.
• Recruitment of quality candidates: The need for attracting the right people with a right bend of mind.
• Compensation and incentives: The need to change the negative image of teaching profession as the last resort:
• Initial teacher preparation and accreditation standards: For effective teacher career growth.
• Career development structures: Multiple career tracks and resourceful talent allocation.
• Professional development and continuous learning: To align teaching practice with evolving learning outcomes.
• Accountability, performance management and evaluation: Focussing on teacher development and accountability
• School leadership: Capacity building to prepare teachers as leaders.
• Teacher symbolism: The profession as an inspirational role model
• Policy integration, alignment: Coherent synergy with an integrated policy framework with intermediating layers
• Future orientations: The changing roles of teachers from being knowledge disseminators to assimilators.
The first five are the micro layers targeted towards individual teacher development while the next five are the macro layers towards the establishment of the structure for implementing teacher policies with a visionary eye on the long term. India’s response has also been significant with its efforts aligned towards policies, strategies and implementation in these areas. As we celebrate Teachers’ Day, may the noble profession of teaching charter a nobler future to advance the noblest ideals of life.
Dean, Planning & Development, SASTRA University