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Context, Concerns and Challenges of Teacher Education

Context, Concerns and Challenges of Teacher Education

As an integral part of educational system, teacher education in India has to be responsive to socio-cultural ethos and national development. It does not consist of institution-based activities only. Its scope has broadened and its objectives have become more focused during the last thirty years. Therefore, it is expected to engage itself in all endeavors of social and national reconstruction and regeneration, address itself to the social and educational problems, fulfill the expectations of the people, accelerate the process of nation building and assist in the realization of constitutional goals. It is true that considerable achievements have been made in all these directions. Teacher education cannot remain indifferent to its context and major concerns.

Context of Teacher Education

The Indian Constitution provides a long-term perspective on our educational system including that of teacher education. The founding fathers of Indian Constitution solemnly resolved ‘to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens: justice-social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, faith, belief and worship, equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the integrity of the nation’. If teachers are to make positive contribution to the realization of the constitutional goals, pre-service and in-service education of teachers needs to give up its neutral stance and commit itself to attaining these goals. To develop the skills and competencies of students for getting through the examination would not be enough. Teachers must understand the impart of the constitution in its true perspective in the light of Indian cultural ethos and integrate it with the philosophy of education. In the absence of such an attempt, transplantation of ideologies and ideas may prove counter-productive. The concepts used in the Constitution are essential politico-philosophical and socio-psychological visualizations and they permeate and transcend changing needs of the time. Teacher education curricula would accordingly need to be restructured.
Socialism subsumes a variety of theories and movements and is the product of industrial revolution, humanism and science. It has been treated as an exclusively European phenomenon, though its genesis can be traced to Indian thought and literature. The central philosophy of socialism is to abolish an exploitative social order, bridge the gulf between the rich and the poor, ensure egalitarian justice and provide equal educational opportunity to all. But to treat socialism as a political method of social re-arrangement would tantamount to its distortion. It is a cultural movement, a movement for making a new man. For a long time, India's attempt at building a socialistic society was influenced by Western doctrines without synthesizing and blending them with the Indian thought, traditions and culture.

Mere inclusion of the philosophy of socialism in teacher education curricula will not serve the purpose. It has to be harmonized with our cultural ethos and values. Ideas and ideologies like socialism are not the items of import; these have to emanate from our own soil and the realities of the Indian society. Teacher educators need to undertake research in this direction.

Teachers and teacher educators need to appreciate that socialism is not utopian ideology; in this regard it is a movement for transforming existing non-egalitarian and hierarchical social order in India and removing exploitation. It is, thus, a cultural movement, which aims at the transformation of human existence including people's values and beliefs. Education can play a vital role in this regard. There are certainly some constraints in building a socialistic society in India. These can, however, be overcome. Teacher education can convince prospective teachers and with their help the community that socialism is desirable for them, for the posterity and well being of the nation.
The Anglo-Saxon or European model of secularism, the outcome of the conflict between the church and the state and science and theology, does not appear very relevant to the Indian context. In this country the state is secular but the vast majority of its citizens firmly believe in and practice religion. Besides most of the religions are pluralistic in India and each comprises of many sects. Mere imitation of an alien model of secularism may cause conflict between the state and the polity. In our context, secularism implies the practice of equal respect for all religions of the country or ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhava’. Teachers and their educators need to be made aware of this. They need to be convinced that secularism is not a political exigency of modern India. Its roots are very deep in its culture and tradition. Since ancient past, India has been largely secular. The plurality of religions and freedom of their practice was valued by the state and society. Secular treatment was extended even to those who did not believe in and practice religion at all. The state by and large never interfered in religious or spiritual matters, which were left to the individual's conscience. In promoting secular consciousness, teachers can play a very constructive role.

Teacher educators and prospective teachers should emphasize the commonality of religions and their ‘essence’. They encourage man in pursuit of truth, value, morality and peace. Teacher educators need to bring home to their students that superstition, bigotry, and dogmatism are distortions and hence unworthy of pursuit. Religion emphasizes the practice of humanism. The teachers need to guard against the dangers of fundamentalism, which threatens Indian society at present. The teacher has to convince students and community that if secular forces are weak, India cannot remain strong.
Democracy should not be confused with the representative government or rule of the majority. It is an antithesis of all kinds of tyrannical and despotic modes of governance. It presupposes separation of power, participation of people and building of consensus on national issues. It is a moral system that achieves balance between individual freedom and social compulsions. More than a political system, it is a way of life and for its success; its values should be reflected in day-to-day life of the people. Its main values are respect for the individual, freedom of thought and speech, respect for the rule of law, use of appropriate means for achieving goals of life, respect for dissent, tolerance and a sense of social responsibility. For its success, democracy needs enlightened citizens capable of defending their rights and performing their duties. Teachers and their educators need to practice democratic way of life in the school and present a model before their students. The social climate of the institution should reflect democratic norms and values. It should encourage students to imbibe democratic principles and culture.

Education is a means of empowering people. Teacher educators and teachers should realize that the first necessary step towards this goal is to develop the student’s potential and promote his economic efficiency. Commitment to democratic values and their incorporation in life are essential. Only rich and meaningful education can achieve this. Teachers have to inculcate moral courage to stand up for the defence and practice of truth among their students. To tolerate injustice strikes at the roots of democracy. Education has to foster a sense of social responsibility and commitment, intellectual integrity and patriotic feelings among students. This will strengthen democracy in our country.
Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity are interrelated and interdependent concepts and each of the four is essential for the realization of the others. Each one needs to be discussed separately. These concepts are considered to be the offshoot of French Revolution. India has been practicing these since long.

Justice is one of the most controversial concepts in Eastern and Western thoughts. However, Indian Constitution describes it in unambiguous terms. Justice implies fair play and absence of discrimination. Discrimination can be made on different basis - political, economic, social, legal, and so on. It may be based on birth, status, religion, education etc. To give people what they deserve in spite of their manifest and hidden differences is the essence of justice. To impart education to all according to their ability, age and aptitude is to ensure justice in education. To raise the status of the oppressed and the neglected sections of society by means of reservation is also the demand of social justice. So also, addressing the educational right of children and the workplace rights of workers, infected or affected by HIV/AIDS is the need of the hour. Educational system and the state should take positive action for this purpose. Teachers have two-fold responsibility in this regard: first, to provide meaningful education to children of different potentialities without any discrimination and second, to create a demand for social justice among students and through them in the society. An unjust society with privileged people having an edge cannot remain at peace or make progress. In teacher education institutions, justice as a social value has to be discussed and the consequences of all kinds of injustice need to be fully explained.
Liberty includes freedom of thought and expression and it has been considered important in the Constitution. It implies a national commitment to safeguard democracy against tyranny, dictatorship and despotism. It is a cherished goal of life. However, like justice and equality, freedom is also a difficult concept to understand. Freedom literally means absence of restriction on fulfillment of desires. But to be able to fulfill all desires is beyond the capacity of most human beings. In this sense, no one can be free because society and culture impose so many restrictions, both internal and external, on man.

Liberty or freedom implies provision of such conditions as are essential for the full flowering of human personality. In this sense, it is essential for man’s development and building a civilized social order. But liberty is not a licence to do what one likes, it has to be used with restrictions imposed by the state, society and the individual. The test of an enlightened person is how he uses his liberty but the test of a democratic state is how much freedom it allows to its citizens. Violation of this will lead to principle tyranny, confusion and chaos. Teachers and their educators have to inculcate necessary moral values for proper use of freedom with self-imposed discipline. Freedom and discipline are inseparable like the two sides of a coin.

Freedom has many facets and dimensions, which need not be elaborated here. But the relationship between freedom and knowledge has to be understood. An ignorant person may be free in his existence but he may not know its purpose. Freedom alone leaves one at the crossroads without pointing out to him where to go and what to do. Education has to develop the capabilities needed for its proper use. Freedom is negative in the sense that it provides opportunity for doing what one desires without giving him proper direction for its utilization. Only an education rich in democratic contents can do so. Teachers have to ponder over this problem.

Indian constitution assures freedom of mind, i.e. freedom of thought and expression. But freedom of expression can be meaningful only if people have freedom of thinking. Freedom of expression does not mean propagation of violence or encouragement of subversive ideas, which can lead to anarchy.

Real freedom allows expression of dissent but dissent has to be responsible and constructive. Liberty demands discussion and debate on public issues but no state or society can afford to permit endless discussion. The objective of debate and discussion is to throw light on all aspects of an issue and evolve a consensus. But once this consensus has been arrived at no one has the right to break it. It is the common decision of all and binding on every one. Students need to be properly educated about it.

Freedom of thought and expression has always been reckoned valuable in India. Suppression of thought has been condemned by the wise. Our country is perhaps the only one in the world where people have not been persecuted for holding a particular kind of belief. Indian thought always appreciated and tolerated differences in opinion. It believed that difference of opinion facilitates a discovery of truth.

Liberty is essential for many good things. In its absence no civil society can exist nor can new ideas or alternative systems be conceived. But liberty alone is not enough. It requires many complementary virtues and the chief among these are tolerance, sense of responsibility, respect for the opinion of others and open mindedness or willingness to accept truth. It is sad that these virtues are gradually being eroded in the country. Our educational system needs to restore and nurture them.

Freedom demands moral courage for expressing ideas that may be inconvenient to the majority or authorities but to do so is its real test. This needs self-control and the capacity to make appropriate choices in the face of all opposition and public displeasure. It presupposes willingness to accept punishment for one's beliefs and actions. Freedom needs a qualitatively rich education otherwise it may defeat its very purpose. The essence of freedom is not the observance of a neutral posture in situation of social conflict. Such freedom paves the way for tyranny and despotism. Wide social disparity is also not conducive to the emergence of a free society. Teachers and educators need to convince and impress upon their students that in the absence of equality, the concept of freedom is an illusion.

Equality sometimes described as ‘fairness in treatment’, is also a complex concept. In order to understand equality, one must understand inequality. Inequality is of two kinds - natural i.e. caused by nature and is man-made. For removing the natural, physical, genetic, biological and such other inequalities, not much can be done by teachers. On the other hand, man-made inequalities are the creation of society and there are enough possibilities in this area. To take measures for reducing man-made inequalities the function of the state. Teacher education can nevertheless facilitate it and consolidate its gains.

Equality demands that equals should be treated equally but to treat unequal equally leads to greater inequality. Equality, therefore, is a question of proportion, which means that the weaker and the handicapped, the oppressed and the downtrodden must be provided additional facilities and subsidies necessary for living a reasonably good life. Various kinds of reservation, and facilities, which are being extended by the state to these sections of society, are the desirable measures towards the building of a just and an egalitarian society. Teachers have to convince the students in particular and society in general that the oppressed or the downtrodden will not tolerate such injustice for long. They have to nonscientist the people and break their ‘culture of silence ‘ and also develop ‘critical awareness about social realities’ which are not divinely ordained but are man-made. This should be an important function of teacher education.

Like liberty, equality also has many dimensions, chief among them being the equality of opportunity and status. Democracy recognizes the worth of the individual and his status is determined to his merit and social contribution. Education needs to stress this.

Equality of opportunity can be achieved in many ways; chief among these is the equality of educational opportunity, which again does not mean identical education or getting education of one’s own choice. Its essence is to provide for the development of talent according to age, ability and aptitude. It means that talent will not be allowed to remain undernourished or underdeveloped for lack of opportunities. To provide such opportunities is the function of the state and to build a climate in its favour is the function of the teaching community.

Equality of educational opportunity involves three components: access, retention, and achievement. The state has taken positive action with regard to access to education by launching certain schemes for making education available to the people but the goal of retention has not been achieved. Poverty, teacher's attitudes and some cultural and social constraints are responsible for poor retention. With regard to the quality, the situation is far more complex. The country has parallel systems of education for the rich and the poor. The state is gradually trying to reduce the quality-related differences in education by adopting certain improvement programmes. It is often suggested that common school system may provide remedy for such a situation. Though the students may attend the same school, study the same curriculum and be taught by the same teacher and yet they may not achieve the same quality education unless other factors are also made equal. Equalization of life chances after schooling creates willingness to learn among children but life chances available to students coming from different sections of society are quite different. Teachers and educators can take definite action in this respect only if they understand full implications of equality of educational opportunity. They may contribute to wielding social pressure and also assist the educationally deprived children in various ways.

A narrow, rigid and common school curriculum may promote educational inequality, therefore school curriculum has to be broad based, flexible with minimum emphasis on commonality and supplemented by local and regional specificities. A dual system of education as it exists at present strengthens only the status quo. Teachers have to expose the weaknesses of this system. They need to develop scientific temper and critical thinking among students. A non-egalitarian society. It divides people. The teacher as a social leader has to convince other that peace and prosperity depend us on equality, which is essential for inculcating the feeling of fraternity.
Fraternity is the extension and propagation of family feeling towards others and it calls for treating them as brothers in spite of differences. In India, where people of many races, ethnic groups, religions, classes, castes and creeds live together, development of the feeling of fraternity and recognition of the worth of a person as an individual without any distinction is a worthwhile educational objective. It is the realization of the ideal of universal brotherhood of man, actualization of the spirit of the ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or what Delors Commission calls ‘Learning to live together’. However, there may be men who may still believe in their own superiority. By means of educational persuasion, teachers can help change this mind-set and protect the dignity of individual.
Dignity of the Individual

The individual occupies an important place in a democratic society. He is its central point, its main focus. Democracy treats the individual as an end in itself. The state exists for his welfare; he is not a tool in its hands or a cog in the machine. The development of potentialities of the individual is the main goal of democratic education and society. Man lives in society. In his development, society and the state play a vital role. For his growth and development certain restrictions are imposed, otherwise the law of the jungle will prevail in society. In this regard, teacher education has-two fold responsibility: to protect the dignity of the individual, and to ensure his proper socialization.

History supports that growth of civilization and increase in the power of state is correlated phenomena. The state is now making inroads in many spheres of individual’s life. The demands of ‘associative living’ presuppose certain restrictions on individual’s activities, which however, do not hamper the growth of his unique personality. The state has to remove hindrances and obstacles, which may interfere with the full flowering of his personality. It is the society and the state that benefit from the contribution of the individual information can contribute more to society if his potentiality is cultivated to its perfection. To standardize man is against the spirit of democracy. In teacher education institutions, the relationship between the individual, the society and the state needs to be properly explained and brought out and a suitable climate for the protection of individual’s dignity has to be evolved.

India is a member of the international community. It has adopted a planned model of social and economic development. A planned society makes the individual free in certain respects but restricts his freedom with regard to that of others. The purpose is to ensure dignified life for every individual. It is a question of formulating the golden rule of maintaining a reasonable balance or equilibrium between the two. Teacher education institutions need to seriously address this problem because congenial social climate and quality of life depend on it. Only those men and women who have developed their personality to the fullest and who are morally conscious of their responsibilities can build a strong nation. Teacher education cannot afford to neglect this responsibility. Indian thought favoring a happy synthesis between the dignity of the individual and his social obligations for building a strong nation. Developing awareness about human rights and preserving and protecting them from violation are additional challenges before teachers and the educators.
National Integration

To maintain the integrity and unity of the nation is an important constitutional commitment. India is a well-demarcated geographical entity and she has her distinct regional identity in the South Asia. Any one can observe its plurality and diversity but within this plurality and diversity, there is a strong undercurrent of unity. Despite our regional, racial, linguistic, religious and social differences, our cultural unity is the real asset for national cohesion and integration. Undermining it will not serve any purpose. In addition to administrative and economic efforts, educational measures are also needed to strengthen national integration. Teachers and teacher educators can play a very constructive role in this regard. Despite certain basics and essentials which may be common for the whole country, regional autonomy and local specificities need to be reflected in teacher education curricula which must use the plurality of the country for strengthening national solidarity and social cohesion. A well-planned and balanced approach for the preparation of teachers is the need of the hour.

Teacher education curricula at all stages need to emphasize the cultural, political and economic unity of the country. The contribution of different racial, religious, social, linguistic and regional groups in developing India’s composite culture and nationhood need to be clearly discussed in teacher education institutions. Students need to be acquainted with the commonalities of different religions, languages, art, architecture, music, dance and drama. Misconceptions regarding other’s faiths and way of life need to be removed. Scientific temper should be developed among students for eliminating superstitions that have struck deep roots in the mind of the people. Exchange of teachers and their educators from one region to another may also to be arranged. The identity of minorities has to be preserved but teacher education should try to bring them into the mainstream of national life. Ignorance of different kinds which develop suspicion among individuals and groups need to be removed. Instead of group loyalty, teachers and teacher educators should inculcate patriotic feelings. In addition to the realization of the constitutional goals, teacher education has to take part in the efforts for solving of socio-economic problems and makes its contributions to the arduous task of nation building.
Challenges Before Teacher Education
Teacher education has to be responsive to the challenges faced by educational system in general and the school education in particular. Besides, teacher education is essentially a context-sensitive activity. It has to respond to various changes in its social, political, and economic as well as cultural contexts. Developments in science and technology during the last two decades have transformed human life and the world. New technologies related to storage and communication of information have impacted the instructional process, given rise to e learning and re-defined the concept of library and library service. Education that does not review and rethink its content and processes soon loses its relevance. These concerns give rise to educational challenges i.e. challenges from within the educational system. The same are being described in detail in the following sections:
Social Challenges

One of the major problems the country faces these days is the explosion of population, which is multiplying, in geometrical progression while our resources are increasing at best in arithmetical progression. According to many the Malthusian forecasts are proving correct in the case of national development of India. Its population growth is neutralizing the gains of development. Increase in the number of non- earning people is posing a danger to social security. Increase in the number of out of school-child population is a challenge not being fully met by the education system. Youth unrest and inter-generation conflict are now serious problems. The quality of life in family and society is declining. Unemployment has become a major concern for the state and its economy.

Indian society is pluralistic with underlying threads of unity. Regional, racial, caste and community differences could not generate any serious conflict in our society. However, due to various reasons this plurality or diversity, which was a means of enriching the quality of life, is now threatened. Social harmony and brotherhood, the feeling of associative living and neighborhood has received a setback. Erosion of social solidarity and cohesion can lead to a fractured society. If unchecked, caste identities may lead to caste conflicts. From a social category, caste has now become a potent political force. This is not a phenomenon confined only to Hindu society only. In this context, peace education and social harmony should receive special attention. Curriculum Framework (1998) suggested certain concrete steps to be taken by teacher education institutions, but only a few could take effective measures in this direction and much needs to be done in this regard.

Communal tension is another social problem that calls for urgent attention. In the past it was a rare urban phenomenon but it is now spreading to rural areas as well. Various sub-groups of the same community and believers of the same faith are developing suspicion and distrust about each other. Religious or communal intolerance has increased and created conflicts between the followers of different faiths. Teacher education needs to be more conscious of its responsibility in this regard. Teachers can develop inter-faith harmony if they are aware of the essential unity of religions and are professionally prepared for promoting this important national cause. It is a national issue and teacher education has to play an active role for promoting inter-faith harmony and support inter-faith dialogue with a view to inculcate saner attitudes.

Teacher educators should objectively discuss and identify the causes of violence, terrorism and turmoil in their expository presentations. Students should be convinced that use of violence, terrorism, subversive activities have no place in a civil society. Teacher education needs to build a strong bulwark against these practices and ideologies. This is a real challenge for teacher education.

The structure and functions of family in India, which were stable for a very long time, are now rapidly disintegrating due to various reasons, chief among these being industrialization, migration, unemployment and modernization. India’s joint family provided not only social security to and ensured welfare of the old, the invalid and the unemployed but also served as an effective means of socialization, education, value inculcation and character formation. But joint family system is fast breaking down and being replaced by nuclear family. Besides, the influence of primary groups is rapidly declining and that of the secondary groups is increasing. The vast majority no longer considers family and caste vocations attractive. The outcome of all these changes necessitates rethinking about the role of education, school and teachers and calls for additional responsibility on the part of the school. Many functions which were formerly performed by parents, family and other primary groups will now have to be discharged by the school, chief among these being character formation, value inculcation, socialization and developing need-based vocational skills. In addition to these, the teacher will have to ensure emotional satisfaction of children. The school and the teacher will have to play the role of the family and meet the challenges caused by its destabilization. Education based on life skills has thus become imperative. This situation demands new commitments, additional competencies and professional skills among the teachers. Not much has been done in this regard. Professional education of teachers has to take a serious note of these problems. Consequently its theory and practice need to be enriched.

To ensure social justice, to meet constitutional obligations, to uplift the condition of the oppressed and the exploited, specially the scheduled castes and tribes and other backward castes, the state is taking positive measures in education and employment. It is true that some of the measures adopted by the state are not free from criticism, as their well-informed and affluent sections have cornered their advantages. Nevertheless these measures promote social justice. Teacher education has twin responsibilities in this regard: first, to evolve new pedagogies of education for children coming from neglected sections, and second, to develop positive attitudes among teachers for its success.

To some extent, education has proved to be an alienating factor in Indian society by transforming the nature and character of the educated youth. Further, the media has also made its contribution in this process. Even a literate person develops the tendency to get alienated from one's parents, family and his background. His pattern of consumption changes. Migration of youth from rural to urban areas gives rise to a number of problems e.g. unemployment, transport, accommodation, sanitation, health and hygiene, adjustment, acceptability, crime and corruption. In the new set-up, the migrant becomes emotionally starved, and marginalized from his own group. Soon he becomes maladjusted in his social environment. If timely action is not taken it becomes a serious social problem. This problem demands the use of new strategies in education and teacher education has to provide effective remedy for this social menace.

Despite all efforts, rural-urban disparity still persists in the country. Education has made only marginal contribution towards its elimination because its model is also urban and hence it fails to address the rural-urban divide. The rural-urban disparity persists in every sphere. Larger the city, better its educational facilities; smaller the village, greater is its educational disadvantage. Various administrative, economic and developmental measures adopted by the state have failed to make substantial achievement in this direction. Teacher education programmes did not think it proper to confront this problem boldly. Curriculum Framework (1998) had recommended certain steps in this regard. Teacher education has not positively responded to this new responsibility more effective.

Adherence to non-indigenous model of development has contributed to a state of disharmony between man and nature. It has disturbed old relationship between man and nature thereby creating serious environmental crisis and ecological imbalance. Environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, pollution, changes in weather and climate, disturbance in the ozone layer, nuclear winter, increase in global warming and of nitrogen and carbon content in the air have caused serious pollution and are proving risky for men, animals and plants. Large scale consumption of petrol, diesel and coal, use of fertilizers and pesticides, and also of water for industrial and agricultural purposes are causing water shortage and health hazards. New diseases, the diseases of civilization, the remedies for which have not yet been satisfactorily discovered, now threaten mankind. The effects of deforestation and diminishing grasslands have created new challenges. Erosion of soil and replacement of organic manure by fertilizers and chemicals are proving harmful to the fertility of the land. The age-old harmony between man and nature, an essential feature of Indian culture and its way of life has been disturbed. Man has pitted himself against nature and is trying to conquer it. He has forgotten that nature can satisfy our needs, not our greed. True that some steps have been taken for the protection of environment and for maintenance of ecological balance but they are far from being satisfactory. This situation demands that (a) environmental education should be made an important and integral component of teacher education and (b) social and adult education should convey the message of ill outcomes of environmental degradation to students in particular and people in general. It is noteworthy that it is the poor and the people living below the poverty line who suffer its consequences most. There is a need for developing special educational courses on these aspects for teacher education.

The traditional social order in India with its ascribed status, and role, is incapable of facing the challenges of science and technology, industrialization, westernization and modernization. The behavioral pattern, age-old social customs, inter-personal and inter-group relationships, values and norms of life are incapable of meeting the new challenges. Traditional vocations are no longer attractive. Some of these developments are really worth appreciation but they demand their critical appraisal as well. The primary purpose of teacher education is undoubtedly to inculcate professional values and skills among teachers. But as intellectuals, teacher educators cannot be apathetic to what goes on in the society. To make constructive social criticism, teacher educators are now more conscious of its social responsibilities and obligations. Teacher education curricula and their transactional modalities can help achieve this without much additional effort and inputs. It involves greater relative emphasis, change in attitudes and social commitment of teacher educators.
Economic Challenges

Indian economy is primarily agricultural as seventy percent of its people work in this sector. The attempts to bring about change in this sector are yet to achieve success. Formerly, the country was importing food grains to feed its people but now the situation has changed. We are not only self-sufficient in food but are also exporting it to other countries. The use of modern machines, increased irrigation facilities, pesticides fertilizers, improved seeds etc. have succeeded in bringing about a food revolution. Different kinds of land laws have induced the farmer to make investment in agriculture. All India Radio and television have also helped the farmers. In spite of this progress farmers in some states die of starvation and some farmers commit suicide because they do not get proper price for their produce.

In agriculture the law of diminishing returns operates. Chance factors and the monsoon play important roles. Erosion of fertile soil due to various reasons, scarcity and of rains, absence of facilities for storage of water and irrigation are other problems the country faces now. New crops demand more water and fertilizer, but beyond a limit, this decreases the fertility of land. The farmers are also not aware of the various ways of avoiding different types of calamity. Subsidiary and allied vocations like fishery, dairy, horticulture; flori-culture, piggry, etc. are not being given proper attention due to non-availability of qualified teachers for vocational education. In this context the preparation of vocational teachers, especially for new vocations related to agriculture needs to be given top priority. Teacher educators in these subjects are not available, as qualified persons of these trades look more for lucrative avenues.

During the last two decades the ‘compulsions of a backward economy’ and the "demands of a developing economy" have become self-evident. Economic growth is not a question of ideologies and models. Ideology alone cannot increase production, as it is not transferable into goods and services. Ideology is more helpful in the distribution of gains but it cannot become a substitute for production, which demands certain managerial skills, economic and technical inputs, spirit of entrepreneurship a skilled work force etc. There is a need for developing greater awareness about grass-roots problems through education. Economics of education and political economy of education can be important constituents of teacher education. Teacher educators need to explore how educational planning and economic planning can be harmonized with one another.

Poverty eradication in India demands state action, legislation and restructuring of society. But these measures alone are not enough. There is a need to develop critical awareness about social reality in teacher education. For this in addition to providing vocational and employment-oriented education, theoretical courses of teacher education may need to be restructured.
Political Challenges
Educational institutions and schools are supposed to be the nurseries of democracy. They are the places where democratic values are expected to be practiced. The quality of politics depends on the quality of the citizens who are expected to perform political obligations and duties and have commitment towards the self, the family, the community, the nation and manking. It is true that in an ideal situation, the conflict between these obligations and commitments may not arise. But such conditions may not always exist and a conflict between them may arise. Under such circumstances, the golden rule for the citizen implies work for the greatest good of the greatest number. It is the duty of teacher education to develop skills related to social and political life and to inculcate necessary democratic values among prospective teachers for this purpose.
Cultural Challenges

Indian culture is basically a composite entity. It has been enriched by all ethnic groups in the country. Education is the process of transmission, transformation, assimilation and qualitative enrichment of cultural heritage. Indian culture maintains a historic continuity with a marked characteristic of maintaining a happy balance between change and stability, tradition and modernity, unity and diversity. Teacher education needs to promote this process. Teacher education needs to develop a sense of pride among teachers in their composite culture, preserve its identity, take precaution against superficiality, guard the youth against rootless ness and alienation, make them modern in their outlook and yet preserve their distinctive Indian ness. To make prospective teachers aware of India’s contribution to the world culture is an important role of education.

The weakening of cultural content of education along with certain other influences has witnessed a trend towards large-scale value erosion in our society. It has generated inter-generational conflict, weakened the moral fabric of society and increased permissive behavior, especially among the educated youth. Even rural and tribal youth have not remained unaffected by it. Value conflicts of various types are widely prevalent in our society. This affects the quality of life of our people. Value inculcation has become an important function of education and teachers have to shoulder this responsibility, and synthesize the values of our composite culture and modernity. The diminishing influence of family and other primary groups calls for the use of alternative educational approaches. Education now needs to collaborate with other agencies. Value inculcation has, therefore, to be integrated with all its activities: curricular and co-curricular.
Challenges from Science and Technology
Scientific and technological revolution, specially in transport and communication, medicine and surgery, information and communication technology, cybernetics, genetics, bio-technology and life sciences like bio-physics and bio-chemistry, nuclear science and quantum mechanics has opened new vistas for man. Science and technology have transformed every thing. The world has become interdependent and is turning gradually into a global village. Now one has to think globally and act locally. The economy of scarcity has been transformed into economy of plenty, but even then poverty has not been eradicated. The traditional concepts of matter and energy, relationship between man and nature, theological beliefs and practices, superstition and obscurantist practices have changed. Machines are replacing men. The process of production is no longer arduous and tiresome. Material comforts and amenities of life are made available to all who can pay for them. But man has become spiritually poorer and his privacy has shrunk. Scientific and technological education, especially in the information and communication technology has become necessary if India is to march with the world and make progress in every sphere. Educational programmes for teachers have not made full use of these developments. But there is an other side of the picture also. Science and superstition are simultaneously flourishing in Indian society because adequate emphasis is not being laid on the development of scientific attitude and scientific temper of mind. Its application to anachronistic social and cultural contents is not being given due consideration. Teacher education has to take serious note of the situation and evolve effective measures; otherwise the gains achieved so far may be neutralized or even negative.

The effects of science and technology and advances in allied disciplines are not proving wholly beneficial to man and society. Society has become interdependent but family and other primary groups have lost their importance. Man has become a prisoner of market forces of and advertisement. His capacity to choose has diminished. His freedom has been curtailed. Possibilities of regimentation and standardization of thought and indoctrination have tremendously increased. The cultural gap between scientists and non-scientists has widened. The harmony between man and nature has received a setback. Morality and values have become its worst causality. Material culture is weakening spiritual culture. All these require reconsideration of scientific policy. If the human civilization is to survive and quality of life is to be assured, modern science needs to re-think itself and re-frame its priorities.

The impact of science and technology, information and communication technology and genetic engineering on society needs to be fully discussed in teacher education institutions. Scientific temper has to be developed and its application for the solution of problems of life has to be encouraged. Its potentialities for making a humane social order need to be emphasized, Its teaching can promote values like impartiality, integrity, intellectual honesty, optimism, fellow-feeling, tolerance and humanitarianism. All these should figure prominently as valued goals and objectives of teacher education.
Educational Challenges

Teacher education has to support the efforts for the solution of problems of education of the country. These problems can be divided into two categories: problems of education as a whole with special reference to school education and problems of teacher education itself The latter includes general problems as well those caused by school education curricula which put the responsibility of its implementation on teachers.

The education system now faces challenges from neo-colonialism, which is not the same as its traditional counterpart. It is economic, ideological and cultural. If not checked, it will lead to further 'educational divide'. Teacher education has to be responsible to this. It has to understand its many dimensional consequences and take appropriate safeguards against it.

The country has to fulfill its constitutional commitment of providing universal elementary education to all and achieve the obliteration of illiteracy. Education is a fundamental right. To meet this obligation many programmes have been initiated. For achieving the target, the country needs well-qualified and properly trained teachers. The system has to prepare them and also train under qualified teachers professionally.

Increase in the population of school going children, rising aspirations of the people and their greater desire for more useful knowledge, complete with explosion of knowledge and techniques for imparting knowledge have emerged as new challenges to teacher education. The possibility of acquiring knowledge from sources other than the teacher books and from outside educational institutions has increased tremendously. The educational system has to respond in full measure to this development. To impart more knowledge within a shorter period entails proper structuring of knowledge and use of new transactional strategies including ICT resources. Students should be encouraged to pursue independent learning and make use of the skills of ‘learning to learn’. In this new paradigm students will approach teachers for getting information about the sources of knowledge rather than knowledge itself. In the emerging context the possibility of teachers and educators becoming outdated and professionally less effective has increased. Constant re-education and in-service programmes for teachers and their educators have become the need of the day.

Teacher education institutions need to forge stronger links with the system of education and also with the community they serve. In very specific terms these linkages may take the form of (a) linkages between TEIs & other university departments (b) linkages between sister TEIs, (c) linkages with school education system & school clusters and (d) linkages with community and its resources. Community linked teacher education, research and extension programmes need to be undertaken. Teacher education institutions and teachers may invite the experts from community, if available, and educators may be encouraged to participate in the activities of the community and vice-versa.

Education requires interdisciplinary approach. For its enrichment it needs cross fertilization and active support from allied subjects, and teacher education is no exception to this. Researches and latest findings from anatomy, physiology, neuro-sciences, medicine, biophysics, biochemistry etc. are sure to enrich its courses of psychology. Utilization of the potentialities of journalism, mass media and information and communication technology can certainly help in improving the quality of classroom transaction. Sociology, and social and cultural anthropology can help in developing need-based pedagogies. Economics and management science can add value and meaning to the courses of educational finance, economics of education, educational planning, management, administration and supervision. There is a need to harness inputs from these areas to courses of education for teachers. By doing so the theoretical and practical component of teacher education will certainly become more meaningful and contemporary. Alternative programmes with increased duration may be tried out for qualitative improvement of teacher education.

Children process information, acquire knowledge and learn in a cultural context, and their personalities and mental make-up are influenced by cultural factors. There are differences in the levels of aspiration and perception of children coming from a metropolis and of those from a tribal background. They may interpret the same event or concept differently according to their socio-cultural backgrounds. Cultural specificity therefore needs to be utilized to improve children's learning. Since there is no uniform process of learning and forming concepts, acquisition of values, morality and character and personality development, there is a need for teachers and educators to understand how cultural traditions and factors outside the school affect pedagogical practices. To ignore these factors can adversely affect educational and learning outcomes. To evolve culture-specific pedagogy and empower the teachers to do so in their specific context becomes an important function of teacher education.

Culture-specific pedagogy is influenced by many tangible and intangible factors operating in society. Chief among these are the practices of child rearing in the family and the community, well-established methods of teaching and learning, indigenous educational practices and the ideas of thinkers and educationists of the society. India provides valuable opportunity for blending all these together for evolving culture- specific pedagogy not only because it has preserved a rich cultural heritage, a large variety of educational practices outside the school in different regions but also because it has its own thinking on matters pertaining to education. The thought and practices of Indian educationists can be useful for reconstructing a need-based indigenous, national and culture specific pedagogies.

Considerable research has been carried out in teacher education, and some of its findings relevant to Indian context can help in the development of quality teacher education programmes. Mass copying and leakage of question papers and unruly behavior of students during and after examinations demand that teachers should evolve a more reliable and continuous evaluation system. Misconceptions about decentralization of education with special reference to Panchayati Raj need to be removed from the minds of the teachers. Mismatch in the supply and demand of teachers in certain sectors and states demand need-based manpower planning. Teacher education has to convince the state about it. Special attention needs to be paid to inculcating professionalism, its values and skills and to improve teacher's work culture.

In India, need-based selective approach has to be adopted by teacher education. Blind adaptation of alien experiments may prove counter- productive and wastage of precious resources. The guiding principle in this respect has to be the concept of ‘working with community’ and in this age of international competition, teacher education should not lag behind.

In India, there exist a large number of poor, exploited, neglected children, first generation learners, dalits and people living below the poverty line who constitute the largest section of out-of-school child population. They constitute special educational groups. The urban and the upper middle class model of education may not help them much. The language, which the teacher uses, the examples which he cites and the courses he is required to teach may not be most appropriate for them. They may not comprehend the texts and concepts properly as they do not form a part of their experience and background and are quite unfamiliar to them. It may not be possible to provide separate teacher education programmes to teachers for teaching such children for obvious reasons. But special pedagogical strategies to teach such students can be developed which may fulfill the needs of such students without unduly straining the system. In-service teacher education programme, which plug the gaps in pre-service education of the teachers, can prove quite effective in this regard.

Modern education, throughout the world, accords special attention to the development of mind. But over-emphasis on the cultivation of mental faculties ignoring the development of heart and spirit has its own drawbacks. It often leads to skepticism as well as cynicism. Teacher education cannot ignore spiritual and emotional aspects of human personality. An integrated human being can be developed only if one's mind, body and spirit develop harmoniously. Teacher education curricula should, therefore, cater to integrated development of learner's personality

Taking pride in being a part of the nation and enriching national identity should be a prized goal of an educational system. Teachers and educators should therefore, inculcate these feelings among students ensuring that it does not come into conflict with love of humanity.
Emerging Concerns and Teacher Education

The context of and challenges to teacher education have been discussed in the preceding pages. In addition to these, there are a few other emerging concerns which teacher education cannot afford to ignore. The national curriculum framework for school education (2000) and that of 2005 have certain expectations from teacher education, which have been well, articulated in these documents. Information and communication technology (ICT), open learning systems, value education, development of life skills, healthy, and productive living, integration of subjects and three language formula are the major concerns of these documents

Valuable contributions have already been made by information and communication technology as an aid to teaching and learning within school and outside it. The opportunities for acquiring information and life-long learning have multiplied. A knowledge society is now taking shape in our country. It should, however, not remain an urban or metropolitan phenomenon or a privilege of the rich. Information and learning experiences acquired through ICT need to be interconnected and transformed into knowledge. If ICT is not utilized as an aid to the teacher, it may create alienation between the teacher and the taught and the gaps between the schools managed by the rich for affluent children and the state school where children from poor families and rural areas study can widen. A situation like this may create a national divide. Hence the necessity to devise need-based, affordable and 'alternative' but ‘appropriate’ ICT and plan its programmes, which are rich in cultural and educational values. Teacher educators involved in the preparation of educational packages through ICT may have to exercise constant vigil about its intelligent and expedient use. In a knowledge society, students need to be empowered to reconstruct knowledge and utilize it when the situation demands.

Three-language formula has been accepted by our nation. Hindi, regional languages, certain foreign languages, Sanskrit, Urdu etc. have been included in this formula. Languages are to be taught for developing communication skills, literary taste and thinking skills. Teacher educators need to promote saner attitude towards language and literature, check the linguistic chauvinism and emphasize their commonality across languages and the manner in which they influence the composite culture of the country and also each other.

There is a need to exercise proper caution in teaching of languages. Classical, modern, foreign and regional languages are taught for developing skills of communication and thinking. While teaching them, the teacher has to be guided by certain considerations. Its objective should not be the promotion of linguistic chauvinism. The beauty of language and literature has to be emphasized in comparative perspective. Most of the languages have not developed in isolation but have influenced one another. Language has always been used to develop awareness among the people and to help them break their silence. Teacher educators need to keep in mind the unifying and awakening potentiality of language and literature.

In case there are certain components related to the lives of great religious leaders, and their teachings in school curriculum, the teachers need to be very careful in taking an impartial view emphasizing their commonality and contribution to mankind for promoting the spirit of equal respect for all religions. Such components should help develop values and morality among students.

Open learning system has developed as a parallel system of education. Its potentialities for improving knowledge, professional skills and competencies cannot be underrated. For this, suitable reading materials, short term programmes and sandwich courses need to be developed in which the role of teacher educators can hardly be ever emphasized.

The concept of social sciences and sciences at the elementary and the secondary stages of education have been given a new thrust. In place of teaching different subjects in these areas, integrated approach has been suggested for evolving holistic approach towards social life and natural phenomena. Students are expected to form a rational view about the reality for which integration of subjects as well adoption of new transactional strategies need to be evolved.

India is passing through a period of an all-pervasive change. Science, technology and information and communication technology are transforming the traditional way of life and making inroads into beliefs, values and norms. In spite of their desirable contributions, science, technology, industrialization, westernization and modernity are creating considerable social instability and value crisis. The impact of value crisis, especially among the educated youth, is a matter of grave concern. Teacher education needs to lay adequate stress on developing life skills and concentrate its efforts on inculcation and restoration of values as its integral component.

Proper attention has to be paid to art, health and physical education in teacher education curricula. The primary objective of art education is to develop aesthetic sensibility. Inculcation of artistic attitude and aesthetic sensibility taste among children so essential for enhancement of quality of life can prove an antidote to vulgarization of Yogic education can be integrated with health and physical education for improving both physical health as well as mental health. It can check mental diseases, which are a gift of modern civilization. The inclusion of this component in teacher education can augment power of concentration and also inculcate many other virtues and capabilities among children.

Development of life skills and capacity for productive and healthy living among children should engage the attention of teachers and teacher educators. In the contemporary context, despite prosperity and abundance of amenities of life, man is not able to lead a happy and healthy life because he has forgotten the art of living. His relationship with man and nature and also with himself has been disturbed because of his attitude and philosophy of life. It is necessary for man to keep his desires and temptations within reasonable limits and keep attuned to search for higher values in life. Teacher education needs to make serious effort for achieving these by developing students' multifaceted personalities and inspiring them to achieve higher goals.

It is true that science and technology have made our future uncertain. Making any prediction about it has become difficult and risky. But despite this, certain trends

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