Chennai: As many as one in seven teachers working in private nursery, primary and matriculation schools in Tamil Nadu are unqualified. This fact is made evident by the statistics on admission to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), which has started a diploma programme for untrained elementary teachers.
As per the direction from Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), NIOS is conducting a two-year diploma programme for untrained teachers working in primary and upper primary schools in the country.
The last date for applying for the course was in November. Totally 25,929 teachers working in private schools have applied for the course, which is highest among the southern states. Roughly around 1.75 lakh teachers are working in all private schools in the state.
As many as 17,812 teachers From Telangana registered for the course, from Karnataka 5,175, Andhra Pradesh 5,022 and Kerala 705.
Among the districts, Chennai has 3,696 registrations for the course highest in the state. From Coimbatore 3,441 teachers registered and Thiruvallur district had 2,804 registrations.
"Right to Education Act mandates diploma in elementary education for teaching the primary classes. Due to the huge number of untrained teachers working in the schools, the HRD ministry has decided to give them a chance to get trained and introduced specifically designed diploma programme for in-service teachers," said P. Ravi, regional director, NIOS, Chennai.
As per the HRD ministry's announcement, teachers without the diploma in elementary education will not be allowed to work in primary and nursery schools after March 31, 2019.
Teachers have to study the entire course online and appear for the written test to qualify for the diploma. The candidates have to register themselves at the Swayam portal for accessing video lectures.
"They will study five papers in the first year and four papers in the second year. They will understand important aspects of elementary education such as child psychology, children growth and development and learning disorders like dyslexia," he said.
"Working teachers have the distinct advantage as they can practice in classrooms what they learnt in their lessons," he added. Though the course is conducted online, the students have to write a paper, pen test to get the diploma.
From all over the country, 14,02,962 teachers have registered for the course.
Bihar with 2.82 lakh teachers has the highest registration among the states followed by 1.82 lakhs from Uttar Pradesh and 1.77 lakh from West Bengal.
NIOS also has come up with six-month bridge course for B.Ed graduates who teach in primary classes 1 to 5.
Following the circular from the HRD ministry, the state government has made this course mandatory for BEd graduates employed in primary and nursery schools and for those who take classes for primary students in matriculation schools.
This order has stirred up a controversy among the private school managements who claimed that it has added the burden for private schools and teachers.
"The course fee is Rs.5,000 and a majority of teachers earning less than Rs.10,000 in private schools. We feel that this bridge course is unnecessary and the government should revoke the order," said K.R. Nandakumar, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Association.
"B.Ed. graduates are only qualified to teach secondary and higher secondary classes. Teaching and understanding elementary students are completely different as they have to teach the language and subjects in a unique way," Mr Ravi said.
The teachers would be taught about pedagogy, learning process and challenges in elementary education in the bridge course. When enquired, officials from school education department said as per the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) guidelines, the elementary teachers should possess a diploma in elementary education. "B.Ed. teachers should use this one time opportunity and enrol themselves in the bridge course as it's only a six months course," an official said. The last date for applying for the course has been extended up to December 15.