Academics urge Delhi University to not replace B.El.Ed with 'diluted' teacher education programme

DU's academic council is set to discuss a proposal to replace the present B.El.Ed programme with ITEP which educationists consider inferior.


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DU's academic council is set to discuss a proposal to replace the present B.El.Ed programme (Representational Image)DU's academic council is set to discuss a proposal to replace the present B.El.Ed programme (Representational Image)

Atul Krishna | May 25, 2023 | 06:51 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Several international academics, on Thursday, wrote to the Delhi University Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh asking him to abandon plans to replace the university’s Bachelor of Elementary Education (B.El.Ed) with Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP).

The letter was signed by academics including Edward Vickers, UNESCO Chair professor at Kyushu University, Japan; Henry Giroux, McMaster University Chair, Canada; Chaise LaDousa, professor at Hamilton College, USA; Paul Morris, professor at UCL Institute of Education, UK; Christopher Winch, professor at King’s College London; and Ken Zeichner, professor at University of Washington, USA.

The Delhi University (DU) Academic Council is set to discuss the introduction of the ITEP course on Friday. The agenda for the Academic Council meeting said that the ITEP course will be introduced in a ‘pilot mode’ in all eight colleges of DU that offer B.El.Ed.

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Academics said that the new ITEP is a “significant dumbing down” of the “outstanding teacher education programme” of B.El.Ed. They said that the new ITEP follows a 3+1 format in which the first three years are for regular undergraduate studies while teacher education is only offered in the final year. This final year syllabus, academics said, lacked the “breadth and rigour” of the B.El.Ed course.

They also said that the new programme relegated teachers as an instrument to deliver pre-approved syllabus rather than actively contributing and inspiring the students.

“[The programme] reflects a conception of the teacher as a mere conduit for delivering pre-approved subject content, rather than as a socially responsible and autonomous professional capable of interpreting and adapting the curriculum and inspiring her pupils. Teaching in the ITEP mode threatens to become a robotic exercise in ‘transacting the text’,” they said in the letter.

This letter comes a day after several prominent Indian academics, including Anita Rampal, professor and former dean, faculty of education, Delhi University, came forward to decry the move.

“The B.El.Ed is the first and the only four-year professional degree programme that prepares teachers for elementary classes. With its interdisciplinary and integrated approach, the B.El.Ed has successfully trained close to 10,000 teachers, in consonance with the Constitutionally mandated Right to Education Act. In contrast, the ITEP program provides only one-year professional training following 3 years of general education which is inadequate to equip teachers with the necessary knowledge and capacities for teaching diverse levels and classrooms,” they said in a join statement.

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They also said that the new programme “dilutes the faculty qualification” of the teaching programmes. The current qualification for faculty teaching B.El.Ed requires two post-graduate degrees. However, the ITEP programme norms only includes one postgraduate degree as qualification, the academics said.

“This dilution of faculty qualification and a standardised homogenised curriculum indicates deep dilution of the standards required to prepare school teachers. A common curriculum to educate teachers across diverse cultures, communities and languages of India will not prepare them to teach in diverse classrooms and hence will make them ineffective,” they said.

They also alleged that the “real reason for coercing B.El.Ed colleges to start the ITEP” is the DU’s unwillingness to appoint new faculty required to teach the teaching programmes. There are close to 50 vacancies in the B.El.Ed departments in DU.

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