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Utter confusion comes to stay in non-Hindi states around norms for teaching Hindi

By Rosamma Thomas* 

Admission for the Bachelor of Education degree in Odisha was scheduled to be held on 22 and 23 September 2022. However, a brief note from the additional secretary to the higher education department of the state government on September 21, 2022 announced that this process had been put off, “due to some unavoidable circumstances”.
The BEd degree was made compulsory for recruitment as a teacher after the Right to Free and Compulsory Education was enacted in 2009. In the years since this rule was implemented, however, teacher training colleges offering this qualifying degree for recruitment as teachers have sprung up across the country, many operating with scant regard for norms set by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE).
One course offered in Odisha – Bachelor in Hindi Education (BHEd) – is not governed by any norms at all, it appears.
NCTE is the statutory body of the Union government that oversees standards, procedures and processes in the Indian education system. The Hindi Teachers’ Training Institute in Cuttack, Odisha, affiliated to Utkal University, conducts the ‘Bachelor of Hindi Education’ course (BHEd).
NCTE offers no guidelines for this course. To teach Hindi in schools, candidates who hold a BA or MA degree in Hindi literature and also a Bachelor of Education degree are usually recruited. There is no special degree for teachers of Hindi.
Dr Jitendra Sharma, who retired from a teacher training institute in Rajasthan, discovered that all teachers at the Cuttack institute were post-graduates in Hindi literature. Under the norms of the NCTE, there ought to be the principal and 15 teachers staffing any institute that offers a BEd programme – teachers must be qualified to teach language, science, mathematics and social sciences.
At the Cuttack Hindi Teachers’ Training Institute, though, there are only the principal and seven teachers, and all of them hold post-graduate degrees in Hindi literature.
On October 13, 2020, the Eastern Regional Centre of NCTE withdrew recognition to this institute to run this course, mentioning that the original recognition was granted only for one year in 2007, and in 2015-16, the institute was informed that it must fulfill additional conditions of the required built-up area, additional infrastructure, staff and funds for being able to continue operations.
Show-cause notice was issued to the institution on May 30, 2018 for falling short of these requirements, and since the response received was unsatisfactory, recognition was withdrawn. The show-cause notice, however, did not take up the fundamental concern of the eligibility of those who have studied MA Hindi to teach BEd students.
Recognition, however, was restored on August 31, 2021, after the institution submitted a petition for resumption of recognition. The website of the ERC of NCTE, however, records that the HTTI has been granted recognition for the BEd course. There is no mention of the BHEd course.
Dr Sharma filed an RTI application seeking information about the norms under which candidates with MA Hindi qualification were considered eligible to teach the BEd course. In response, he was informed that the NCTE was not in possession of the information sought. The response informed the applicant that norms and qualifications for those teaching BEd courses were all available on the website of the NCTE.
Since no norms for the BHEd course exist on the website of the NCTE, it is safe to assume that no norms exist at all for conducting this course. It is unclear then, under what conditions the recognition of this institute was restored in 2021.
What is more, on June 21, 2022, the Southern Regional Committee of the NCTE wrote to the principal secretary, school education, Andhra Pradesh, that the Hindi Pandit, Telugu Pandit and Urdu Pandit teacher training programmes offered in the state had ceased to exist from the academic session of 2015-16, after NCTE regulations were amended in 2014.
That letter warned that those pursuing teacher education programmes “which are not within the frame of the regulations, 2014, are not eligible to be a teacher in the Republic of India”.
Drawing attention to this situation, Dr Sharma wrote to the chairperson of the NCTE, “Thus, the order for restoration of recognition for BHEd course issued by the ERC, NCTE, is bad in law and immediately needs to be withdrawn.” He sought a probe into how those students studying the course were finding jobs.
Utkal University, to which this institute is affiliated, issued a notification announcing that the BHEd degree offered by HTTI was equivalent to the BEd degree.
“How can a university that offers a course decide on its own that the degree is equivalent to the BEd? The university does not have the authority to issue such a notification. These decisions are taken by the NCTE,” explains Dr Jitendra Sharma.
Students seeking admission to the BEd degree in Odisha, frustrated by these problems, have reached out to Dr Sharma asking if they must move to Andhra Pradesh or other neighbouring states to pursue their BEd.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the MA Khader committee on school education has suggested a five-year integrated post-graduation course for those seeking to take to teaching in school. Until 2014, the duration of the BEd programme was only for one year. It is now two years long.
An assessment of whether the length of the teacher training programme makes for better trained and more inspiring teachers, however, has not been conducted.
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*Freelance journalist

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