Teachers’ University Revisit to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
A formal introduction of teaching, Dr Ambedkar said, was not sufficient to transform the University system in India. He held the view that the teaching university should be Teachers’ University. His advocacy of Teachers’ University is of profound importance. The postcolonial development in the university reduced the agency of teachers. They were subjected to submit to the authoritative direction from above. They became the victim of politics of division along caste and ideologies. The division of intellectuals could no longer hold the organic unity. As a self-interested individual, few teachers began to flourish under the politics of patronage and favour for posts that rewarded them in many ways.
The paper reinforces the idea of Dr BR Ambedkar advocating Teachers’ University. Teachers’ University, advocated by Dr Ambedkar, is an attempt to reposition the agency of teachers in shaping the future of higher education. Authoritative control of teachers in all academic affairs needs to be transferred at the level of schools/centres/departments. Student intake, fees to be charged, admission process, curricular guidelines, fellowship decisions, teaching learning and research guidelines, assessment and evaluation, professional development, participation in seminars, travel, etc. need to be decided in a decentralized manner. While the guidelines for the standard procedures may be laid out by the university administrators, the final decision must remain at the level of teaching unit. University administrators must work at the level of facilitation rather than controlling the academic affairs.
Ambedkar’s vision in envisioning Teachers’ University was that the senior teachers of the university alone are capable to judge the scholarship of teachers to be recruited. The proposition today may not be accepted in view of biases and favours at the level of university. However, an open and transparent system of recruitment may eliminate biases and favours rather than a closed door method of interview by selection committee which is further subject to manipulation in the selection of experts.
Another feature of Teachers’ University, B R Ambedkar pointed out, is the unity of teaching and examination. It means teachers in charge of teaching are most competent to evaluate the students’ learning experience. Any disjunction of teaching and examining, as is the case today, will push the learning examination oriented, and teaching will slowly lose its centrality.
The most crucial question today is the divide between undergraduate and postgraduate. Teachers’ University, according to Ambedkar, must not create compartmentalization of UG and PG teaching. UG and PG must be treated as continuum where the influence of teachers upon students gets deeper in shaping the mind. The divide puts college teachers at a disadvantage and inferior position to the postgraduate teachers and disrupts the organic unity of teachers. Maintaining the organic unity of teachers is fundamental in the Teachers’ University. Dr Ambedkar makes practical suggestions to maintain the unity as well.
Teachers’ University must award the teachers for the scholarship that they possess. No consideration other than merit and loyalty of a teacher to the profession should matter in promotion, privileges and pay of a teacher. Only then the realization of Teachers’ University can take place. Ambedkar supports the case of deep democratization of the university in the governance through effective participation of teachers. According to him the faculty should be the basic governance unit taking most of the academic decisions.
KeywordsAmbedkar Teachers’ university Unity of teaching and examination Agency of teacher
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