SPARC Re-Imagining Teacher Education

Sponsor: Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)

Teachers and their work have been the focus of attention globally especially in the current context of addressing issues related to equity and quality in education. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4) set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 identifies teachers as a vital element of the education system to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Improving the quality of education and learning outcomes will require more than getting teachers into the classroom: those teachers need to be qualified according to high-level professional standards and trained and supported throughout their career (International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030).

Educational policies and practices are influenced by political and professional contexts, this comparative research project will focus on four countries from the global South and North to understand how governance and curriculum of teacher education is shaped by similar professional discourses and international concerns in the current globalisation context and how they respond to individual countries needs and aspirations.

There are few studies that have explicitly examined initial teacher education so as to inform policy and practice and ones with a comparative framework are altogether missing in India. Given the rapid shifts in policy, studying teacher education in different contexts will provide insights. Russia, India and South Africa among the BRICS countries were chosen since they range from a former global superpower to the emerging economies of the world and represent the majority of the worlds education systems. The post-colonial exigencies of social cohesion and equity in the case of South Africa and India; and the recent turn to oligarchy in Russia, all offer a rich canvas to study teacher education in context. The UK will be a part of the study as it not only exemplifies a contrasting scenario from the global north but also as a former colonial power that has historically shaped education in India and South Africa.

The comparative research project will encompass initial teacher education policies and curriculum of the countries being studied. It will attempt to develop an account of the teacher's knowledge base and preparation for practice for meeting the goal of social justice. While the internal contexts and intricacies of history and polity are important to understand, the influence of global trends, pressures they create on national governments through large scale testing, quality standards, and frameworks and how these bisect and are filtered through social-political particularities, are of importance and will be an important focus of this comparative study.

The following workshops have been held under the aegis of this project- 

Comparative Education workshop- January 20-22, 2020

Prof Yusuf Sayed from the University of Sussex conducted sessions for the second round of contact classes for the Comparative Education course being piloted by the Centre for Education, Innovation and Action Research (CEIAR), TISS Mumbai. The sessions were held from January 20 to January 22 at the Old Conference Hall, TISS Mumbai, were attended by more than 20 students who had enrolled for the course as volunteers for piloting the course. The participants included MPhil and PhD students of education, researchers of education and teacher educators from Mumbai University.

The workshop also included sessions by Prof Saumen Chattopadhyay from the Zakir Husain Centre for Education Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi and Dr Poonam Sharma (CEIAR). In the first session, ‘Policy Analysis and Methods in Comparative Education’, Prof Sayed and Dr Poonam Sharma (CEIAR) introduced the participants to the various methods of policy analysis in Comparative Education. Following this discussion, Prof Sayed contextualized the global context of the Jomtein conference (1990) and the evolving discourses of the Sustainable Development Goals vis a vis education in the second session: ‘International Goals on education from Jomtein to SDGs’.

 Prof Saumen Chattopadhyay introduced the group to the niche domain of Economics and Education. This session was followed by an interactive and engaging panel discussion on ‘Public-Private Partnerships in Education and Health: Achieving Equity and Quality?’ that included Prof Sayed, Prof Chattopadhyay and Dr. Emon Nandi (CSR Hub TISS Mumbai).

­Comparative Education : Perspectives and Methods- Nov 5 & 6, 2019

The first round of the Comparative Education course piloted by the Centre for Education, Innovation and Action Research (CEIAR), TISS, Mumbai was held on Nov 5 and 6, 2019. There were 21 participants which included MPhil and PhD students of education, researchers of education and teacher educators from Mumbai University

The first session was an introduction to the course by faculty members of the CEIAR,  Prof Mythili Ramchand, Dr Poonam Sharma,  and, Dr Vidya KS. This was followed by a session by Prof Simon Thompson, University of Sussex, on ‘ Introduction to international  and comparative education’, which consisted of sharing experiences and perspectives across the group, a discursive and exploratory session. 

The second day began with the session on Systemic Issues in Teacher Education- Teacher Education as a policy problem and Governance and Regulations in Teacher education. The concluding session was on Teacher Professional Development where Prof Simon Thompson discussed cases on international experiences on TPD reforms, and global perspectives on researching teachers and TPD programmes.