The basic requirement for good administration is good manpower, and good manpower can only result from good education. Good education is in turn dependent on good teachers and good teachers blossom when we have a good rule and a good ruler.
It goes without saying that good education develops a person’s personality and makes him a good citizen. A good citizen is one who has good professional values and skills, is creative, productive, innovative, inquisitive, is enlightened and egalitarian, a person of foresight, etc.
Who then is a good teacher? A good teacher is the one who has chosen education as a profession, not as the last resort but as the first; has adequate and appropriate knowledge of the subjects s/he is supposed to teach; has very good communication skills; is inter-disciplinary in approach to teaching; relates teaching to ground realities; is good humoured and emotionally attuned to what s/he teaches which is not only in textual and examination-oriented manner; is ethical in attitude and approach to teaching; has clarity of thought; knows how to make teaching not just skills-oriented but also values-oriented; and keeps the objectives of education as making a student a good human being, a good professional, a good citizen and a good role model.
How well a State is administered or ruled is judged on the basis of the education system it has. We have to judge our education system by applying these criteria of good education and good teacher. Good teachers are needed not only to teach at the primary level but also at all other levels of education. Needs, objectives and goals remain the same but each higher level education needs higher standard of education. The basic need of good education is good teacher at all levels of education and in all fields. While many other facilities are also necessary for good education, it is the good teacher who is the pivot and makes all the difference.
The role of a teacher earlier was much more difficult than it is today as earlier s/he had to be all by herself. It was just a book, slate, map and chalk most of the times. Today there are many technologies, books and teaching material. However, a teacher needs to make use of these aids and for that she has be a good learner herself as the knowledge is not just vast but is also growing fast. S/he has to be efficient as well as an effective learner.
Today, both the learner and the teacher are operating in a highly competitive world where one competes with not only the local but also with the global and, therefore, s/he has to be globally competitive, and not merely matching with the locals locally.
Today’s learner is more intelligent and well exposed right from childhood as s/he lives in a rich environment of technologies and cultures. That is an advantage as well as a disadvantage to a teacher of today. S/he faces a bigger challenge of teaching a higher and a superior student. S/he has to have more experience and exposure and be more advanced in skills and values to match her students.
The curricula today are not local like that of yesteryears but are rather global. That makes the task of the teacher much more difficult, thereby requiring more commitment, conviction, hard work, discipline and determination. Though these apply to all other fields and professions, education is the basic input for all other fields and professions and, therefore, has to be the best.
Where Are We?
So, how do we judge whether what is needed in the field of education is happening in Telangana? For that, let us ask if a citizen is playing the role of a citizen well; a professional is playing the role of a professional well; a politician is playing the role of a politician well; whether the rule of law is being observed well; corruption and honesty are less or more; democracy is in practice and not just in theory.
Moreover, does the education and skills required for jobs match those being offered in our educational institutions?
There are several other ethical moral and cultural criteria by which we can come to a reasonable assessment of whether what is happening in the field of education in Telangana, and on account of that in other fields, is satisfactory.
If we want a better administered State, we have to set right our education system first before all others, as it is the field of education that provides manpower for all other fields and if that is not set right according to the objectives of good education as aforesaid, all others would default and go wrong, cumulatively.
The weakest sides of the education system in Telangana are the systems of recognition and affiliation of institutions, of selection and promotion of staff and of monitoring, inspecting and evaluating the institutions. The government has to address these issues.
But improvements cannot happen all of a sudden. So, improving our education system needs to be accorded high priority and taken up in a phased manner.
(The author is former Director, Telugu Akademi)