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Teachers Contribute to Nation Building

Teach­ers Con­tribute to Nation Build­ing

If we look at the Indi­an edu­ca­tion­al sce­nario today, sig­nif­i­cant changes have hap­pened since Inde­pen­dence. We have more schools, more edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams, bet­ter infra­struc­ture and vision­ary peo­ple. Still there is a huge gap between the demand and avail­abil­i­ty. Devel­oped coun­tries like Swe­den and Fin­land, known for the high qual­i­ty of edu­ca­tion, have man­aged to keep edu­ca­tion free of cost for its cit­i­zens. We are yet to get there in India. The pic­ture was how­ev­er very dif­fer­ent in India in the 18th cen­tu­ry as cap­tured by Dharam­pal ji in his book “The Beau­ti­ful Tree”.

What was the teach­ing sce­nario in ancient India?

The edu­ca­tion­al mod­els that we fol­low today is not so very dif­fer­ent from ancient times but the focus of cur­rent edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem is very dif­fer­ent from those times. Hence we see a dras­tic change in the way the teach­ing-learn­ing process hap­pens today. We often assume that the edu­ca­tion­al process of ancient India focused much on vedic knowl­edge. How­ev­er, his­tor­i­cal records and the Ithi­hasas reveal that pupils received knowl­edge on var­i­ous aspects of human endeav­or and there were also spe­cial­ized cours­es depend­ing on the learn­er’s pro­fes­sion. The dif­fer­ent types of teach­ers (wrt to vedic edu­ca­tion) in ancient India were (Source: Ithi­has):

  1. Acharya was a type of teacher who taught his pupil Vedas with­out charg­ing fee from the pupils.

  2. Upad­hyaya was the one who adopt­ed teach­ing as a pro­fes­sion to earn his liveli­hood and taught only a por­tion of the Veda or Vedan­gas.

  3. Charakas or wan­der­ing schol­ars toured the coun­try in quest of high­er knowl­edge. Thought not nor­mal­ly com­pe­tent as teach­ers they were regard­ed as pos­si­ble source of knowl­edge by Sata­patha Brah­mana. Hiuen Tsang was struck with the knowl­edge gained by some of the wan­der­ing teach­ers (called Bhikkhus and Sad­hus dur­ing his times) and who had accu­mu­lat­ed a trea­sure of knowl­edge by con­stant trav­el and who used to glad­ly impart it to oth­ers.

  4. Guru was the one who used to lead a gruhas­ta life and earn his liveli­hood after impart­ing edu­ca­tion to his dis­ci­ples and main­tain his fam­i­ly.

  5. Yau­janasati­ka were teach­ers famous for their pro­found schol­ar­ship that stu­dents from dis­tant places, as far as from a dis­tance of hun­dreds of miles would come to seek their guid­ance.

  6. Sik­sha­ka was a teacher who gave instruc­tion in arts like danc­ing.

The teacher’s role was impor­tant for the stu­dent to imbibe right knowl­edge and hence there were metic­u­lous process­es put in place in the ancient Indi­an sys­tem to sup­port this. For instance:teachers were encour­aged to trav­el across the coun­try to gain new knowl­edge, debates were encour­aged to val­i­date and strength­en their knowl­edge, there would be vis­it­ing schol­ars who would share their insights with teach­ers, places like kashi and harid­war were con­cen­trat­ed cen­ters of learn­ing and teach­ers would get trained there and take that knowl­edge to their schools.

Men­tal Mod­el Con­struc­tion

A teacher plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in help­ing the stu­dent con­struct accu­rate men­tal mod­els and it is impor­tant that these men­tal mod­els help the child to make sense of real­i­ty around them. When inac­cu­rate mod­els are built, learn­ers find dif­fi­cul­ty in inter­act­ing with their envi­ron­ment and apply­ing what they have learnt. Inorder for the teacher to facil­i­tate the process of men­tal mod­el for­ma­tion: a sound knowl­edge of the sub­ject, effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion abil­i­ty and inher­ent moti­va­tion to trans­mit knowl­edge are required. Devel­op­ing such qual­i­ties needs effort from the teacher’s side and sup­port from the edu­ca­tion­al ecosys­tem. Good qual­i­ty Teacher train­ing pro­grams and teacher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions can ensure an all-round devel­op­ment of teach­ers.

Present Day Sce­nario

Cur­rent­ly, India is the sec­ond largest edu­ca­tion sys­tem in the world in terms of the num­ber of chil­dren enrolled. Here are some inter­est­ing and rel­e­vant sta­tis­tics:

  1. There are about 8.6 lakhs schools that offer pri­ma­ry edu­ca­tion (it was 6.4 lakhs in 2000)

  2. Near­ly 132 mil­lion chil­dren are enrolled in pri­ma­ry schools (it was 113 mil­lion in 2000)

  3. 60 Mil­lion chil­dren are in sec­ondary/­post-sec­ondary schools

  4. The high­er edu­ca­tion enroll­ment is about 29 mil­lion

  5. 8.3 Mil­lion teach­ers are part of the edu­ca­tion­al process in India

  6. The Teacher-Pupil ratios are 28 in Pri­ma­ry, 30 in Upper Pri­ma­ry, 28 in Sec­ondary and 40 in Senior Sec­ondary as com­pared to 11–12 in Fin­land or Swe­den. His­tor­i­cal records tell us that the PTR was 15:1 in Nalan­da.

While this sta­tis­tics def­i­nite­ly shows great signs of improve­ment, the gross enrol­ment ratio (ratio of num­ber of indi­vid­u­als who are actu­al­ly enrolled in schools by the num­ber of chil­dren who are of the cor­re­spond­ing school enrol­ment age) remains low at 23.2. The gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied that the lack of trained teach­ers and inef­fec­tive ped­a­gogy to be the key fac­tors that con­tribute to low enroll­ment rates.

So how are these rel­e­vant to all teach­ers? Shouldn’t the Gov­ern­ment teach­ers be the ones wor­ried about such data?

The qual­i­ty of teach­ers in terms of their edu­ca­tion­al back­ground, teach­ing skills, moti­va­tion and their over­all under­stand­ing of the sub­ject has a direct impact on the reten­tion of chil­dren in school. The infra­struc­ture could be good, the admin­is­tra­tor could be an excel­lent per­son but if the teach­ers aren’t good, the moti­va­tion to come to class dips down. There have been stud­ies that show that schools with more num­ber of inex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers have high­er drop-out rates. We not only need more teach­ers but we need more moti­vat­ed and com­mit­ted teach­ers to trans­form the edu­ca­tion­al set­ting in the coun­try. Sir Ken Robin­son likens teach­ing to the­ater where the rela­tion­ship of the audi­ence with the actor is the actu­al the­ater and every­thing else is extra. The anal­o­gy with the edu­ca­tion­al process is stronger as the teacher learn­er rela­tion­ship is at the heart of edu­ca­tion. Over time, many things have been added to it like timeta­bles, cur­ric­u­la etc but real edu­ca­tion is what hap­pens between the teacher and the stu­dent.

In your child­hood days, do you remem­ber that you liked a sub­ject because you liked the way the teacher had taught you that sub­ject? You looked for­ward to next day’s class because of teacher, didn’t you? That one moti­vat­ed teacher can have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the lives of stu­dents.

The qual­i­ty of teach­ers impacts the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem at mul­ti­ple lev­els, some of which include:

  1. Retains chil­dren in school

  2. Impacts stu­dent suc­cess and achieve­ment

  3. Impacts employ­a­bil­i­ty and career of stu­dents

  4. Gift­ed edu­ca­tion relies very much on teacher qual­i­ty

  5. Ben­e­fits school rep­u­ta­tion there­by attract­ing brighter tal­ent to schools

If we look at the big­ger pic­ture, moti­vat­ed teach­ers are an inspi­ra­tion to stu­dent, who in turn become bet­ter learn­ers and attain good posi­tion in the soci­ety. Edu­cat­ing a child can bring a trans­for­ma­tion to the social and eco­nom­i­cal sta­tus of a fam­i­ly and a good inspired teacher can bring about this trans­for­ma­tion. Hence focus­ing on the teach­ing process con­tributes to nation build­ing in a sig­nif­i­cant way.

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