Universalisation of elementary education and eradication of adult illiteracy have been two of the most crucial and basic targets of educational development in India since Independence. Our Constitution lays special importance upon the free and compulsory education for all children until they reach the age of 14 years.
In May 1986, Parliament adopted a new National Policy on Education (NPE) and in August, 1986, approved a detailed Programme of Action (POA) for its implementation. The two basic objectives of NPE are:
- Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE)
- Eradication of illiteracy.
NPE-1986 suggested the establishment of DBEs (District Boards of Education) to plan, monitor and evaluate formal education up to higher education stage, non-formal education and adult education at the district level. The Programme of Action (POA) of 1986 proposed with a trust “An important change in the educational system will be brought about by the radical transformation of the present system of elementary teacher education. So, academic and resource support are of very crucial importance to achieve this goal.” The NPE and POA extended this support system to the district level in the shape of District Institute of Education and Training (DIETs).
Basically, establishment of DIETs have been suggested to assist DBEs in the area of Elementary education, Non-Formal Education (NFE) and Adult Education (AE) with three academic functions, namely, (a) Training, (b) Resource support, and (c) Research.
Operationally, there is a history about the DIETs across the country. The existing elementary teacher training institutions having different nomenclature such as Basic Training Colleges, Junior Colleges of Education, Primary Teacher Training Institutes (PTTI) in different states, are being upgraded to District Institute of Education and Training, selecting one institute from each district.
Objective wise, in-service training of elementary teachers continues to remain the primary objective of the DIETs. In addition, to fulfill the comprehensive view of UEE, it is extended to cover the training of personnel engaged in Non-Formal Education and Adult Education.
But DIETs are not only training institutes. As ‘Institute of Education”, its scope is extended in supporting and promoting UEE, NFE and AE in the district through resource support and research as well. The role of DIET is of an educational reformer, of an encouraging guide for teachers to transform education. The DIET Guideline defined this role as “Pace-setting” in education and teacher both.
The very concept of teacher education is in fact undergoing a massive transition; teacher education is now considered to be a complex and highly skilled activity that requires exercising judgment in deciding how to act in different emerging complex educational as well as social situations. The new vision of teacher education will be more responsive to changes in the school system as it envisages a significant paradigm shift.
The prime focus of any training programme is now on the capacity building of teachers as well as to sensitize and motivate them to be lifelong learners from theory and experiences and ultimately to empower them to be action researchers and reflective practitioners.
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) -2005 (Annexure-I) and the recommendation of Knowledge Commission (KNC) (Annexure-II) have strongly recommended to adopt reformative strategy in order to strengthen and gear up the teacher education for qualitative development in elementary education.
The DIETs are the only Teacher Education Institutions working at the grass-root level that can address the concerns of teachers directly including the deprofessionalized environments in which they work and a feeling of their alienation by providing resource support, by taking new strategy for their capacity building and obviously by monitoring and evaluation.
In order to enhance the quality of elementary education DIETs are supposed to discharge the following duties and responsibilities in the arena of elementary education as set by the MHRD, Govt. of India.
Conducting Training and Orientation Programmes
- To conduct programmes for Elementary School and Pre-School Teachers (both pre-service and in-service courses).
- To organize especially designed courses for Head Masters, Officers of the Education Department up to Block level, Members of the Village Education Committees (VECs), Community Leaders, Elected Heads of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, Block and Cluster Resource Coordinators etc.
Academic and Resource Support
DIETs in their role as resource institutions are expected to be actively involved in the following activities:
- Preparation of District Plans for UEE
- Development of district – specific curricula and teaching learning material.
- To provide support to Block Resource Centers and Cluster Resource Centers.
- To act as evaluation centers for elementary schools and programmes of UEE.
DIETs are also expected to actively engage in Action Research and experimentation for an improved understanding of Elementary Education in the district. This enables them to tackle specific problems of the district for achieving the objectives of UEE.
Pursuit of excellence would have to inform all activities of the DIETs, in which context, it will have two inter-related aspects:-
- Excellence in the Institute’s own work, and
- Helping the elementary and adult education systems in the district, in achieving excellence.
As far as the first aspect is concerned, efforts will be made to provide to DIETs all necessary physical and manpower resources. But it will be for them to harness these and other available resources in the best possible manner, so as to achieve and promote excellence.
In this context, DIETs will also have a very important pace setting role to play. They will be expected to become models for other educational institutions in the district in terms of meticulous, efficient and effective planning and execution of functions, creation of a harmonious and creative organizational climate, maintenance of a clean and attractive campus etc.
It is suggested that the DIET should have seven academic branches:-
- Pre-service Teachers’ Education Branch (PSTE)
- Work Experience (WE) Branch
- District Resource Unit (DRU) for adult and non-formal education
- In-service Programmes, Field Interaction and Innovation Coordination (IFIC) Branch
- Curriculum, Material Development and Evaluation (CMDE) Branch
- Educational Technology (ET) Branch
- Planning and Management (P & M) Branch.
In addition to the above academic branches, there would have to be an Administrative Section to provide administrative support. Separate hostels for men and women should be in DIET, which is a non-vocational institute. Moreover, beside having a library with all latest books and journals, each DIET should be equipped with sophisticated electronic gadgets, modern teaching aids and apparatus.