A lesson in teachingThe Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was formed with the joint work of the Education Act 2028 and Laws of Education 2058. Its main aim is to recruit teachers that are proficient, capable and hardworking.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was formed with the joint work of the Education Act 2028 and Laws of Education 2058. Its main aim is to recruit teachers that are proficient, capable and hardworking. For this, the commission conducts a series of exams in order to screen its applicants and select the best from the pool.
The curriculum it provides for teachers to prepare for the exam indicates that it is a comprehensive, well-rounded assessment. Out of 100 possible points, 60 marks are allocated for subjective questions and the rest are objective.The questions cover a wide range of topics, including principles of education, psychology, general knowledge and even issues related to educational legislation in Nepal.
The exam is designed by subject experts under high confidentiality; no partiality is shown during the marking process as they are well-coded and anonymised. Following the exam, successful candidates are expected to sit for an interview with experts as a second filter to ensure the selected applicants are qualified.
Since its formation in the late 50s, the TSC has shown frequent irregularities in terms of administering the exam. The first exam was taken in the early 50s and then in the year 2062 B.S. After an eight-year gap, an exam was held in 2070 B.S. And finally, an exam was held this year.
But the fundamental issue with the exam process isn’t the quality of its test or how many times it has been administered; it is clear that the examination process is well thought-out and planned. The question now lies in what improvements have been made in the field of education by teachers who have obtained teaching licenses and who have had to go through the assessment process.
In other words, the efforts made by TSC are definitely appreciable but what impact have the teachers made in the field of education over the years?
As much as we might like to think that this examination process has produced excellent teachers, the reality is not as straightforward. After being recruited for governmental schools, many teachers often have to confront weak management systems and disgruntled teachers who have had to work under demotivating conditions. Since public school teachers are under the provision of the government, many don’t feel the need to do their best as their job is already secured. Therefore, even though the TSC works really hard to produce good teachers, some teachers may not be faithful to their work.
James Urwick et al. in their research on teacher motivation have found that teacher’s motivation to teach directly impacts student’s achievements. This is quite evident in Nepal. In classrooms where teachers are highly motivated, students are more likely to be active and interested in learning than if they were being taught by teachers who seem uninterested in their jobs.
However, in some cases, even if the teachers are motivated, their capacity to apply their knowledge on different pedagogical approaches in their classrooms is highly restricted by some cookie-cutter-model teaching systems that are required to follow extremely extensive bureaucratic processes. Similarly, it is quite challenging to introduce relatively newer pedagogical models such as the ‘student-centered approach’ in schools where a lecture-driven teacher dependency have already been established.
Due to a heavily demanding school curriculum and the mounting pressure of completing the course on time, teachers, whether they like it or not, often have to resort to adopting the easiest teaching method: the plain old, by-the-book, lecture method. When the system encourages teachers to resort to archaic tendencies, TSC’s efforts go in vain.
Holding a job as a teacher for the government comes with access to a considerable number of facilities including paid holidays, stipends for when teachers attend certain trainings and allowance when teachers check answer sheets in exam.
The government also provides a standard salary of up to Rs.40,000 per month for a high school teacher. When financial needs are secured, we might imagine that teachers would spend a lot of time preparing for lessons but this doesn’t seem to always be the case.
Taking advantage of their job security, many teachers do not feel the need to prepare anything for class as they know that nobody can kick them out. The most anyone could do in a government job is to relocate poorly performing teachers to remote places. Therefore, even the most intelligent and talented teachers seem to falter in their works once they get a teaching position with the government.
Recently, in a high school in Solukhumbu, the social studies subject had not been taught for over eight months due to a lack of teachers. Similarly in Bardibas, costly unused computers have been rusting due to a lack of capable computer science and technology teachers. This makes us question TSC for its management of teachers in remote areas of Nepal.
The main problem seen so far with TSC’s efforts and teacher’s negligence is a lack of balance and consistency. TSC doesn’t conduct exams on a regular basis and when it does, it seems like one-time installment for teachers.
A one-time assessment may encourage teachers to think that if they work hard once and get the job, they can put minimal effort into their job later. Therefore, it seems that TSC should now draw its attention on how to administer re-assessments of existing teachers and find ways to motivate them to be better teachers.
TSC can do this by taking regular exams even after teachers are selected for the job. Through periodical assessments, teachers’ progress in their teaching capacity should be regularly supervised and monitored. If they are performing well, they should be encouraged through bonuses or any awards.
However, if negligence is seen, they should be punished by either ceasing their teaching license or by reducing their salary until they have demonstrated a commitment to engaged learning.
This is not an easy task as it involves checking in with thousands of teachers who have enjoyed governmental funds without much labor. Protest from teachers is inevitable but if the TSC really wants to produce good teachers for the betterment of schools and colleges, it is a pertinent step forward.
Paudyal is an M.Ed. student of English at Tribhuvan University.