Prateek Patil* heads a teacher training institute that offers Bachelor’s in Education (B.Ed) and is set up on a public-private partnership (PPP) model in Maharashtra. This institute has been awaiting funds from corporate partners since 2018, but has not been lucky so far.
“We started with an initial investment of Rs 50 crore on a PPP model. Now we are struggling to get more funds even as the class strength has dropped, over the last three years, to 180 from 450. Now we are hearing that we have to expand to teach other courses. How will we manage?” he said.
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The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on July 30, has said that stand-alone educational institutes teaching only one course stream will be gradually phased out.
This means that an institute teaching only engineering or B.Ed programmes will either need to expand to other academic streams or will have to be shut down.
Is B.Ed necessary?
B.Ed is an essential course for any candidate aspiring to be a teacher in state-owned and private schools. While a majority of the 700 international schools in India have done away with the requirement of having a mandatory B.Ed for teachers, this qualification is still necessary in the rest of the 1.5 million schools in India.
India has about 6,800 B.Ed colleges. About 5,200 are private colleges, 330 are public and the rest are set up on a PPP model, meaning both the government and private entities have an equal partnership/investment. The average fee stands at Rs 20,000 per annum.
Industry sources told Moneycontrol that funds crunch and shortage of teaching staff are the two main concerns of these colleges. Now, with NEP 2020 mandating all institutes to evolve into multi-disciplinary ones, the fear is that at least 10-15 percent B.Ed colleges will be the first victims.
No funds, staff or real estate
Nina Singhal, who heads a private B.Ed college in Bhilai, told Moneycontrol that their first response would be to suspend operations. This institute was set up close to two decades ago.
“We neither have the funds nor the staff strength to evolve into an institution that offers courses across the board. If the government is ready to fund us and offer real estate, we will evaluate this proposal,” she added.
The B.Ed colleges that are fully funded by the government are hopeful that the central government will help them in securing land at affordable rates.
Currently, the B.Ed programme is of two years but several state governments, like Maharashtra, are offering four-year integrated BA/B.Ed, BSc/B.Ed and B.Com/B.Ed programmes. From 2021, it is likely that the B.Ed programme will get clubbed with regular undergraduate degree programmes for teaching career aspirants.
“Merely saying expand into a full-time university is not feasible. We function in less than half acre of land. There is no space, which is necessary to accommodate students, to expand in this location. So it is necessary that the government funds us to become multi-disciplinary,” said Farheen Sheikh*, who is the assistant dean of a Bengaluru-based public teaching college.
NEP 2020 has not set any deadline for the transformation of single education-stream colleges into multi-disciplinary institutes. However, sources told Moneycontrol that once this policy starts getting formally implemented from FY22, institutes could be given up to five years to start adding programmes and admitting new students.
Read also: 179 professional colleges shut down, highest in last 9 years
Shutting down only option
Delhi-based education consultant Pramila Guharoy told Moneycontrol that B.Ed colleges neither have the technical skills nor the resources to branch out to newer programmes. She said that the unfortunate result of the NEP proposal will be that several institutes will be shut.
“About 10-15 percent shutting down is a conservative estimate. It is not easy for a B.Ed-focused college to simply branch out to offer arts, science and commerce programmes. Where will the faculty come from, what will be the building infrastructure and who will fund it are key questions that these institutes must ask the government,” she added.
The question now is who will fund this initiative. Fee increase is ruled out because institutes fear that this will dissuade candidates from applying, which, in turn, will increase the vacant positions for school teachers.
Close to 0.7 million teaching jobs are lying vacant across the country in elementary and secondary schools. If B.Ed colleges are forced to shut down, it would only aggravate the problem.
*Names changed to protect identity
Courtesy: money control
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