Quality has become prominent at all the stages of education system. This is due to a paradigm shift in the conceptions of knowledge and learning facing the contemporary learning societies. At all the levels of education the major thrust is to improve the standard of education.
At school level there is a need to bring a marked improvement in the subjects of English language, Science and Mathematics. Despite the guidelines from the National policies on Education (1967 and 1986) and Programme of Action (1992) as well as the reports submitted by state level education commissions and committees to bring improvement in the education quality there are hardly many suitable strategies developed and implemented by school boards to improve quality at all the levels/stages of school education.
It is not only the World Bank (1995) that stresses on student’s outcomes as an indicator of quality but education specialists around the world also assert that quality refers to an education that is student-centred and driven by the needs of the local community. The curriculum in schools must be relevant to the immediate community, learning environment that must be stimulating and attractive to students, classroom learning activities must be problem based and interactive, teaching methods should promote critical thinking skills, creativity, and innovative approaches and school based management must be responsive to social development needs. All the above mentioned areas of concern in the education system that can bring improvement in quality of education place a major responsibility on school teachers and their professional competencies. Teachers’ competencies therefore must be reviewed and redefined in the Education System.
It will not be wrong to maintain that, the quality of education and the teacher competency levels in the Indian schools and School Boards need improvement. There is a noted increase in the number of schools in all the school boards, in India but this increase in the quantity is not associated with improvement in quality of education. Not only this, school education is also beset with a range of issues like poor school and student outcomes, lack of qualified and trained teachers (especially for use of technology), increasing student population, higher demand for personal attention and additional time allocation for effective teaching etc. Apart from these the readiness and the use of ICT in schools is still not adequate despite highly emphasised by different Education committees and commissions. Given the concerns over the deteriorating quality of education in many institutions, the current scenario endorses some concrete mechanisms from the government to train teachers and bring an improvement in their competency.
Changing Role of Teachers
In the present times the role of teachers and schools are changing, and so are expectations about them. Teachers are expected to possess creativity, communicative and collaborative skills for the success in modern democracies. It will not be wrong to maintain that teachers today need to develop the competences to constantly innovate and adapt. The common understanding related to teachers’ competencies is divided into three main areas as field competencies, pedagogical competencies and cultural competencies (Katane et.al,Gupta). Teachers need to develop critical, evidence-based attitudes, enabling them to respond students’ outcomes, new evidence from inside and outside the classroom, and professional dialogue, in order to adapt their own practices.
The National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), 1998 has emphasised that “Teacher is the most important element in any educational’ program and plays a central role in implementation of educational process at any stage. It is teacher’s competence level that can determine student learning outcomes. Also the National Curriculum Framework-2005 recommends that in our classrooms the traditional teacher dominated ‘read and remember till asked’ practice has to be replaced by pupil-centred activity centred teaching learning process.
Children will learn only in an atmosphere where they feel they are valued. Our schools still do not convey this to all children. Unfortunately there is hardly any effort made for development of these competencies among teachers. Today we have dearth of properly trained teachers in Indian Schools. This leads to quality-related deficiencies at each stage of education, resulting in unsatisfactory level of student learning (both scholastic and co-scholastic). Our education system has about 4.52 million teachers in about 5.98 lakh Primary Schools and 98 thousand high / Higher Secondary Schools but substantial number of these teachers are untrained or under-trained and their overall competency requires polishing and improvement. Thus it will not be wrong to mention that teachers are critical to quality education and educational quality depends heavily on teachers and their pedagogical decisions.
According to (Anselmus, S. 2011) teacher’s competence refers to the right way of conveying units of knowledge, application and skills to students. Teacher’s competence also refers to the ability of the teacher to help guide and counsel his or her student to achieve high grades. A characteristic of a competent teacher is that the teacher encourages students to reflect on social reality and empowers them to transform the existing conditions that shape their lives. (Noddings, N. 2000) defines a competent teacher as one who promotes cultural transmission and perpetuates civilizations by passing on as heritage essential basic skills and subjects from one generation to another. It is necessary for children to know about their culture and the world they live in, about other cultures that existed before them, to know about the important and historical persons who made great discoveries or contributed in a major degree to the shaping the society etc.
Additionally, it is necessary for teachers to present to the students an effective selection of the world they live in and to work in cooperation with them in order to help them attain competence in their world. This is what children need the most and can be successfully transmitted through education. (Bovina, K 2002) have placed increased emphasis upon the basic areas of teachers competence which include, mastery of subject matter, understanding of human nature, interest in continues professional improvement of knowledge. The common understanding related to teachers’ competencies is divided into four main areas for the study they are as; Cognitive competencies, Emotional Competencies, Social-cultural and Communication competencies
Cognitive competencies are the competencies of teachers oriented towards carrying out their teaching role more effectively. Without curriculum competencies, it is quiet difficult to produce an effective education service in schools.
Emotional Competencies are composed of teachers’ and students’ values, morals, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties, motivation, empathy and so on. Teachers’ emotional competencies can help students to learn and students’ willingness to learn can be increased if teachers know how to improve the emotional dimension of students’ learning.
Social-cultural competencies include the knowledge about social-cultural background of students and teachers, local, national and international values, democracy and human rights issues, team and collaborative work with others, and social studies. There is a strong relationship between learning and students’ social-cultural background. Humanistic approach and social theories can be put into practice in the classroom by means of teachers’ social-cultural competencies
Communication competencies Communication competencies include voice, body language and words such as speaking, singing and sometimes tone of voice, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of writing. They include communication skills in intrapersonal and interpersonal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analysing, and evaluating.
The range and complexity of competences required for teaching in the 21st century is so great that any one teacher is not likely to have them all, nor can they develop them all to the same high degree. Attention of policy makers and the school authorities must therefore be focused also on the competences or attributes of an education system or of teachers. It remains a fact that in order to raise pupil attainment, teachers must be able to make appropriate use of all the competences necessary to be effective in the classroom and school.
Therefore it must be the ultimate purpose of teacher professional development to enable all the teachers to develop their competences as it will mean stimulating teachers’ engagement in lifelong learning, assessing the development of teachers’ competences, and providing appropriate and relevant learning opportunities for all teachers. Therefore it is mandatory that quality of teaching and teacher competency must be examined in the light of student achievements.Till date in India the concept of teachers’ competencies is mostly discussed in very narrow dimensions such as teachers’ planning, implementation, assessment of the curriculum, standards for the curriculum or the school. These are related to teachers’ teaching duties in the school. In order to develop teachers it is necessary to discuss dimensions like research competencies, lifelong learning competencies and environmental competencies. Therefore, teacher training institutions should focus on understanding and application of teachers’ competencies, as they are of great importance for students’ learning achievement.