Over the past few weeks, social media remained flooded with several teacher training videos which received massive criticism from the netizens, even though the teachers defended the activity and related it with activity-based learning under NIPUN Bharat.
The first video that surfaced on social media was about teachers singing the verses ‘Ghehoon Kisne Boya, Kisne Katta Jie’. In this video the teachers of a higher secondary school were seen singing inside school premises. The video received massive criticism all over social media.
Such videos did not stop here. After a few days another video about ‘Chop Banana-Shake Banana’ surfaced on social media, again drawing criticism.
While the social media remained abuzz with different types of reactions after these videos went viral, the teachers shared links of Nursery Rhymes available on YouTube and other digital platforms and compared it with their activities saying that such videos were part of activity-based learning under NIPUN Bharat.
Notably, NIPUN Bharat Mission or National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy was launched by the union education ministry under the Samagra Shiksha scheme (an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from preschool to class 12) aligned with NEP (National Education Policy) 2020.
The scheme ensures that every child in classes 1 to 3 can acquire FLN (Foundational Literacy and Numeracy) skills in the country by the end of 2026.
But the teacher training videos prepared as part of the mission seemed very irrelevant and were not well received by people by and large. Instead, the teaching community was accused of damaging the grace of their profession by doing such activities as was seen in the videos.
Also, the videos available on YouTube and other social media were altogether different from the activities done by the teachers here.
The videos were in no way impressive given the content, mode of recitation and overall presentation and content. One can simply gauge that such activities will in no way help the students to improve their learning abilities as has been seen in the past as well.
Over the years, dozens of NGOs were engaged by the department to introduce activity-based learning in schools but the results did not improve at all. No doubt such initiatives helped to increase the enrollment but there was no improvement in the learning outcomes of the students which was also revealed in different national level surveys carried in J&K.
Another latest video titled ‘Paint the House’ was very dull. Its presentation and the pronunciation of words raised concern among masses as the Paint was heard as “Paind’’ which is a derogatory word. Had the trainer been able to pronounce the word properly, there would have been no storm of reaction to it.
There can be different reasons for not having any takers for such teacher training activity.
One reason can be that our teachers are not able to deliver things in a way they are supposed to, and that is why such activities in government schools do not impress parents and stakeholders at large.
Maybe the presentation, pronunciation and representation are not polished to a level where it can receive acceptance from the society.
Having said this, the private education sector has long back started activity-based learning of students wherein they train the school teachers about how to engage students in activity-based learning. It has received societal acceptance as well.
In their case, the focus is on results and overall all improvement of the students.
On the other hand, the government school teachers focus on giving publicity on social media, which has this time backfired very badly and invited a flood of criticism.
In private schools, the management mostly engages female teachers for kindergarten and lower primary classes who are also trained to adopt activity based learning.
The other reason why the videos pocketed criticism was because the teachers who have been designated as teacher trainers have no idea of classroom culture. The reason behind this is that they have not been posted in schools for a long time now.
The teachers, lecturers and masters posted in SCERT and DIETs, to justify their stay in these institutes, come up with these initiatives.
These trainers make it a daily exercise to engage teachers in making such videos under the garb of activity based learning. By doing so, these trainers justify staying in DIETs and SCERT and avoid going to schools for teaching, which is their primary responsibility.
Under Nipun Bharat, the focus has to be on Kindergarten to class 3rd primary for which the government while such activities are not so relevant in upper primary, secondary and senior secondary level classes.
In my previous write ups, I have repeatedly argued that reshuffle in DIETs and SCERT is directly proportional to the reforms in the education sector. Unfortunately, the department has failed to go for a major reshuffle in these institutes.
No doubt the department recently advertised the posts of DIETs and SCERT but at the end old faces were again accommodated in these institutes which exposed the flawed policies of the department.
The basic reason for the criticism is that the trainers have no basic idea of classroom culture.
NIPUN Bharat Mission instructs teachers or educators to prepare a study plan that develops the students’ literary and basic language skills.
But it is a matter of fact that we cannot have the same approach for all the students across the Valley. There are students in far off areas who are good at speaking Urdu given their tribe while the students in other villages hesitate to speak in Urdu. So in this case we must have different approaches for the students to develop their language skills.
Now coming to the point, the NIPUN Bharat mission works to improve the efficiency and learning skills of children. For instance, a child should read at least 60 words per minute of a comprehensive text accurately after passing class three
In this regard, mentoring of the teachers by the experts and resource persons is being done besides contextualization of learning outcomes and their translation in local languages.
The department earlier informed the Ministry of Education (MoE) that it will create an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition of Foundation Literacy and Numeracy so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade-III up to 2026-27.
But given the present practice adopted by the department, there are meager chances to achieve the desired results.
To conclude, the School Education Department must go through objectives of Nipun Bharat carefully and engage professional teacher trainers so that the programme doesn’t fail to yield the desired results. If need be, the department can outsource teacher training to professional organisations/Institutions undertaking such activities. The bottom line is that if teachers are unable to do activities properly, how can they do justice with such activities inside the classrooms.