There is a close relationship between education and training. With proper training we shall chalk out practical intervention strategies to realize the theoretical objectives of education. Various educational commissions have recommended the training of teachers and significant portion of public funds are earmarked for it. But there are some missing links in the training of teachers which need be addressed by conscious educational fraternity. In the initial days of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the training sessions had an environment charged with enthusiasm. Participants came in groups of 32; they came on time and took interest in the proceedings. The discussions were meaningful and the participants were present for the entire duration in the training hall. Even outside the training room, there was an environment of debate and discussion. A strange glow could be seen on the faces of the participants when they came out from the training sessions, so much so that even in the bus the talk was about the issues of training, the presentations and the quality of presentations. Apart from dealing with educational issues, these training sessions brought people emotionally closer to each other. People made new friends and shared their problems, their achievements.
All in all, the training sessions were an exhilarating experience. Even officers came in to listen to the sessions every second or third day, and thus became a part of it. In a way the officers considered the teachers to be their colleagues. But the situation has changed altogether. In connection with data collection, last winter I attended a ten day training programme organized by school education department for capacity building of school teachers. Thirty teachers were issued orders for joining the training but only eight turned up. One teacher just marked the attendance and left. This made others laugh. Since the room was almost empty, resource person was hardly enthused about imparting training. A low turnout does not create an atmosphere where you would like to talk about various topics. Informal talks were held with participants. During these informal talks, nearly all teachers admitted that these training sessions were becoming exceedingly meaningless. The teachers found them unpleasant. As I see it, there are many reasons for this. Firstly, there is a lack of discipline in the training centres. People come and go at their own sweet will. There is nothing new and innovative to offer in these training sessions because resource persons repeat the traditional chalk and talk method, have limited exposure to new techniques of teaching, do not read educational journals and inhibit cross fertilization of ideas. The level of willingness to learn new things is low. I administered self- constructed general awareness test, logical reasoning test and standardized teacher attitude test to participant teachers and found these low. This is reflected in their students as tomorrow they fail to crack any competitive exam.
The objective of the training is not to increase the quality of education but to earn money. All eyes are fixed on the huge amount of money that comes for the training sessions. There are some teachers who think that it is their fundamental right not to attend trainings and to be present for a session is below their dignity.
Money plays an important role here. It happens like this – they meet some corrupt official and say, "You take my TA / DA for the training and sign on my behalf." After the trainees leave at the end of the training, the corrupt official forges the signatures of the absent teachers and is able to make quite a bit of money. This practice needs to be checked. At a training session one humble teacher put up a proposal that a medical kit be kept in primary schools which would contain medicines for common ailments like fever, cough, cold etc. He suggested that there should be two-days training for teachers on how to use this kit. The ZEO criticized his proposal at once, saying, "If the trained teacher is absent on the day the child falls sick, then this kit will remain unused like the sports and science material”. If this is the way suggestions are responded to, then where is the scope to improve!
(Author is Coordinator, Institute of Correspondence Education, University of Kashmir. Feedback at email@example.com)