Questions have often been asked on the quality of teachers recruited in Bihar to impart education in schools. There have been several instances in the past, when some of the teachers were caught on camera fumbling to name all the seven days of the week or 12 months of the year in English, and correctly. But this one takes the cake.
A couple of days ago, Sanjay Kumar Agrawal, the district magistrate of Gaya - chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhif's native place - had a first hand feel of the quality of teachers, when a teacher approached him at his ejanata darbarwith a request for transfer.
Just off the cuff, Agarwal decided to test the teacherfs general knowledge and asked a couple of simple questions, which even a seven-year-old child is taught at home.
Who is the President of India,he asked. Pat came the reply: Pratibha Patil.Then he asked for the name of Bihar governor. This time, the reply was: Smriti Irani.
Having had enough, the district magistrate stopped at that. Not bothering to go any further to ask about India's human resource development minister, he did issue an order for verification of the authenticity of the woman's degree.
It was indeed shocking for me to find such poor standard of educators in schools. I have ordered for verification of her documents,said Agarwal.
In Gaya, like other districts, the verification of documents of teachers is on, as many teachers are suspected to have got into jobs using fake documents through mukhiyas and junior level officials.
The bulk recruitment of teachers through panchayati raj institutions on marks basis was done in two phases - in 2006 and 2008 - to fill the huge backlog of vacancies. Education minister Brishen Patel himself admitted in the state assembly that over 1,100 such cases had been detected so far.
The verification is on both for teachers as well as anganwadi sevikas in the district,h said Agarwal. Quality of teaching in schools has turned out to be the Achilles heel for the government, as it has had a cascading effect up to the secondary, higher secondary, college and university levels.
If the intake of teachers in colleges is bad due to poor schooling and degrees are distributed without commensurate knowledge, the situation could turn even worse. We may struggle to find qualified teachers at all levels,h said an academician. He said that a large number of teachers might possess the necessary degrees on paper, but they could still be unfit for the teaching job. gDegrees donft make a teacher, knowledge and passion do.
If a lot of teachers has not shown improvement even after four-five years and despite in-service training and quality mission programme, there is something seriously wrong. Many teachers are trained also, but they still lack basic knowledge, as they got degrees even without acquiring commensurate knowledge,he added.
NCTE chair man Santosh Patra, who was in Patna on Sunday, also talked of lack of quality in many of the teachersf training institutions, which are distributing degrees at whopping cost, without imparting necessary skills or having adequate infrastructure. Agarwal said teachers needed to constantly update their knowledge.
We will run awareness prog rammes in schools both for teachers and students to ensure that they have adequate general knowledge. Different competitions will be organised. Knowledge needs to be updated constantly,he added.