District Institute of Education & Training (DIETs)
In view of the recommendations of the National Policy of Education (NPE, 1986) developed developed under the guidance of then late Prime Minister of India Shri Rajiv Gandhi, District Institute of Educational Training (DIET) were established across the Country. As of now more than 500+ districts of the country have DIETs. DIETS were established with the prime objectives of imparting training to all concerned officials and is the only institute of its nature at the district level.
During District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), initially DIETs played important role in imparting orientation to teachers and other officers at the block and district level. But with the establishment of Block Resource Centers across all the districts of the country, the basic purpose of establishing DIET forfeited and they have had become merely an institution engaged in B.Ed and Diploma in Elementary Education programmes.
ll About DIETs: Present Status, Future Prospects & Challenges (2023)
DIETs were supposed to provide academic leadership under the Government of India’s flagship, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme for which each DIET has a provision of adequate number of faculty positions. Of the different departments, Planning and Monitoring was supposed to take the lead towards formulation of district plans earlier under the aegis of DPEP and later Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme. But in reality, DIET, except in a few states having separate cadre, like districts in Kerala and Gujarat could play the role as envisaged in the original scheme. Evaluation studies conducted on behalf of the Government of India by NIEPA also confirmed lack of their involvement in district planning and research activities.
Initially DIETs were engaged in the capacity building but the type of programmes it conduct was decided at the states level, mostly by the SCERT in view of which most of the programmes it conducts were not necessarily be need based and as per the requirement of teachers. Because of this, over a period of time DIETs and its programme lost its significance and capacity building was left to the Block Resource Centers which has now become the main agency towards imparting capacity building programmes earlier under the aegis of DPEP, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and now also under the newly integrated Samagra Shiksha (Abhiyan) programme.
District Institute of Education &Training: An Introduction
While all the inputs listed in the preceding paragraph are crucial, the last two are especially so. About teachers, the Education Commission (1964-66) had observed, “of all the factors that influence the quality of education… the quality, competence and character of teachers are undoubtedly the most significant”. But these in turn depend substantially on the quality of training and other support provided to them. The importance of the last input mentioned in the preceding para viz. academic and resource support-can therefore hardly be over-emphasized. Until the adoption of the NPE, this support in the area of elementary education was being provided largely at the national and State levels only by institutions like NCERT, NIEPA and SCERTs. Likewise in the area of adult education, this support was being provided by the Central Directorate of Adult Education at the national level, and by State Resource Centres (SRCs) at the State level. Below the State level, there were elementary teacher education institutions but their activities were confined mostly to pre-service teacher education. The physical, human and academic resources of most of the institutions were inadequate even for this limited role. They also tended to adopt teaching practices, which were not in consonance with the ones they prescribed to prospective teachers. There were certain larger problems as well e.g. courses of study being outdated.
By the time of adoption of the NPE, elementary and adult education systems were already too vast to be adequately supported by national and State level agencies alone. The NPE implied their further expansion as also considerable qualitative improvement. Provision of support to them in a decentralized manner had therefore become imperative. The NPE and POA accordingly envis
aged addition of a third-district level-tier to the support system in the shape of District institutes of Education and Training (DIETs). With this, expectation would be of wider quantitative coverage as well as qualitatively better support as these Institutes would be closer to the field, and therefore more alive to its problems and needs.
Pursuant to the provisions of NPE on teacher education, a Centrally sponsored Scheme of Restructuring and Reorganization of Teacher Education was approved in October 1987. One of the five components of the Scheme was establishment of DIETs. Draft guidelines for implementing the DIET component were circulated to States in October 1987 and have, together with certain subsequent circulars, formed the basis for its implementation so far. Till October 1989, Central assistance had been sanctioned under the Scheme for setting up a total of 216 DIETs in the country.
The present document purports to consolidate, amplify and revise the existing guidelines in regard to DIETs. With this, all earlier guidelines on the subject would stand superseded.
DIETs: Mission and Role
With the background given in the preceding sections, a DIETs Mission could be briefly stated in the following terms: –
“To provide academic and resource support (vide para 1.5) at the grass-roots level for the success of the various strategies and programmes being undertaken in the areas of elementary and adult education, with special reference to the following objectives: –
- Universalisation of Primary/Elementary Education.
- Adult Education
- NLM targets in regard to functional literacy in the 15-35 age group.
The above is a general mission statement. It will have to be translated into specific goals for the DIET, so as to suit the needs of individual states and districts, and will be ultimately operationalised through specific performance norms set for individual DIETs.
DIETs: Pace-setting Role
Pursuit of excellence would have to inform all activities of the DIETs, in which context, it will have two inter-related aspects:-
(i) Excellence in the Institute’s own work, and
(ii) 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, harmonious and creative organizational climate, maintenance of a clean and attractive campus etc.
DIETs: Part of a Larger Design
It would be clear from para 1.5 and Annexure .I that DIETs are a part of a larger strategy to achieve national goals in the areas of Elementary and Adult Education. Various components of the strategy are inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing. Annexure I also outlines DIETs role in the context of the other components. DIETs cannot therefore afford to view themselves in isolation, and must faithfully discharge their role of supplementing and complementing other parallel initiatives.
DIETs: Transactional Philosophy
A DIET will have 3 main functions, viz.
(i) Training (both of induction level as well as continuing varieties)
(ii) Resource support (extension/guidance, development of materials, aids, evaluation tools, etc.) and
(iii) Action research
This section discusses the basic approach and philosophy to be followed in undertaking these functions, especially training.
Basic Transactional Approach for the DIETs: Placing the Learner at the Centre
The NPE and POA plead for adoption of a Child Centred approach in elementary education. The relevant portion of NPE reads:
Child Centred Approach
A warm welcoming and encouraging approach, in which all concerned share a solicitude for the needs of the child, is the best motivation for the child to attend school and learn. A child-centred and activity-based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage…”
Para 14 of Chapter II of the POA states that “by making Elementary Education child-centred, we would be introducing a long-awaited reform in the system. The most important aspect of this reform will be to make education a joyful, innovative and satisfying learning activity, rather than a system of role and cheerless, authoritarian instruction”.
In the case of Adult Education Programmes also, it is clear that functional literacy should be imparted to adults in a participative, learner-active mode.
The above statements contained in the NPE and POA have profound implications for programmes of teacher education and training of instructors of adult and non-formal education. The child or learner centred approach necessitates a fundamental change in the manner of curriculum transaction. The challenge is an especially daunting one in view of the special characteristics of our system-high pupil-teacher ratio, multi-grade teaching, in-adequate physical facilities, and so on. The role of the teacher/instructor would now be no longer one of transmitting readymade knowledge to the learner, but, instead, that of a designer and facilitator of learning experiences, a manager of instruction and learning resources, and an active contributor to the all-round development of the learner.
All programmes of pre-service and in-service teacher education and of training AE/NFE personnel in the DIET would be so designed as to train the teacher/instructor in transacting curriculum, keeping the learner at the centre of the teaching-learning process. If the DIET is to achieve this, it follows that it will have to transact its own programmes in the same learner-centred mode, which it would expect of its trainees. This basic approach would imbue the transaction of all programmes in a DIET. Some of the implications of this would be as follows:
- Programmes will be need based. Even within group of trainees/participants, individual differences and needs will be identified and catered to.
- Trainees will be enabled to experiment, discover, learn, practice and innovate for themselves, rather than being lectured to. Learning activities will be suitably organised, in individual and group modes.
- Maximum possible use will be made of the local environment in the learning process. Curricula and learning activities will be suitably related to it.
- Good work done by trainees will be duly recognised, encouraged, displayed and publicized.
- The DIET will itself adopt the attitude of a “life-long learner” rather than that of an oracle or know-all. It would receive as much from the ‘field’ as it would endeavor to give to it. The district will serve as the ‘school’ for its learning experiences, while it may carve out one or two special areas as its ‘lab areas’.
DIETs: Special Target Groups
“The concept a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of a comparable quality: says the NPE. It goes on to say “to promote equality, it will be necessary to provide for equal opportunity to all not only in access, but also in the condition for success”. This is quite the essence of the universalisation task, and means that needs of educationally disadvantaged groups would have to be given maximum attention. The largest such groups are: –
(i) Girls and women
(ii) Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes
(iv) The handicapped, and
(v) Other educationally disadvantaged groups e.g. working children, slum-dwellers, inhabitants of hilly, desert and other inaccessible areas, etc.
It follows that DIETs also, in all aspect of their work, would have to give primary attention to promotion of education of the above groups.
DIETs: Autonomy and Accountability
Para 10.1 of the NPE says “an overhaul of the system of planning and management of education will receive priority”. It also says that in this process, two of the “guiding considerations” will be: –
(i) “Decentralization and the creation of a spirit of autonomy for educational institutions: and
(ii) “Establishing the principle of accountability in relation to given objectives and norms”.
In view of the above, DIETs would need to be given adequate functional autonomy-academic, administrative and financial-and would at the same time be accountable laid down objectives and norms. They would be institutions of the State Government or UT Administration, and will therefore be ultimately answerable to them. The State government/UT Administration, and will therefore be ultimately answerable to them. The State Government/UT Administration may exercise its supervisory functions through the SCERT and SRC.
However, the immediate accountability of the DIET will be to the District Board of Education (DBE), which, according to the NPE, is to be created to manage education up to the higher secondary level. The DBE will set specific goals (in the long, medium and short term) and performance norms for the DIET. It will do so in consultation; with the Institute, and keeping in view general norms and guidelines lay down at the national and State levels. It will also review the Institute’s performance vis-à-vis such goals and norms on an ongoing basis. Till DBEs are set up, State Governments may; designate SCERT/SRC or some other suitable educational authority to perform the DBE’s functions vis-à-vis DIETs.
Not merely will every DIET establish a close and continuing dialogue with ‘the field’ (i.e. with elementary schools, school complexes, teachers, head masters, school supervisors, Instructors/Supervisors/Project Officers of AE and NFE, and with District level officers in these three sectors), but will also establish officers In these three sectors), but will also establish close linkages with organizations and Institutions at the national, State, Divisional and district levels whose objectives and interests converge with its own. Some of these institutions would be as follows :-
At the Divisional Level
NGOs, institutions of higher education, secondary teacher education institutions, DRDA, local Radio Station (wherever applicable), etc.
At the Divisional Level
University Dept. of Education, Institution of Advanced Study in education (IASE)*, NGOs and other concerned organisations and institutions.
At State Level
SCERT, SIET, SRC for Adult Education, NGOs
At the National Level
NCERT(including its Regional College within whose jurisdiction the state falls), NIEPA, Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), Directorate of Adult Education, Central Institute of Indian languages, Mysore, Kendriya Hindi Sansthan , Agra, other premier organisations/institutions and NGOs working in the area of elementary and adult education, etc.In specific terms, the linkages would be established through a meaningful and continuous dialogue in which institutions share problems, experiences, achievements, information and resources. The diet may also work as an agency for implementing some of the programmes and activities of national and state level organisations.
DIETs to be Non-Vocation, Mainly Residential Institutions
Organisation of in-service programmes for teachers and training programmes for AE/NFE personnel would be one of DIETs main functions. This activity would go on throughout the year, but would peak during school vacations because that is when the Institute’s resources would be free from the work-load of pre-service training, and also because that would cause minimum dislocation in schools. Therefore, DIETs will be non-vacation institutions-their personnel would have to be classified as non-vacation staff, and given consequential benefits as per State Governments Rules.
DIETs would also be expected to provide residential facilities to as many of their trainees as may be possible within the resources available for construction hostels. In utilizing available hostel accommodation, first priority shall be given to trainees other than pre-service trainees. The latter shall be accommodated to the extent possible after accommodation needs of all other training programmes (e.g. in-service programmes for teachers, training programmes for AE/NFE personnel. etc.) have been met.
Functions of a DIET
The context, mission and role of the DIETs have been discussed in the preceding Chapter. Their functions, as spelt out in the POA, have been quoted in Annex 2. These could be re-stated as follows:-
(1) Training and orientation of the following target groups:-
(i) Elementary school teachers (both pre-service and in-service education).
(ii) Head Master, Heads of School Complexes and officers of Education Department up to Block level.
(iii) Instructors and supervisors of Non-formal and Adult Education (induction level and continuing education)
(iv) Members of DBE and Village Education Committee (VECs) Community leaders, youth and other volunteers who wish to work as educational activities.
(v) Resource persons who will conduct suitable programmes for the target groups mentioned at (I) and (iii) above, at centers other than the DIET .
(2) Academic and resource support to the elementary and adult education systems in the district in other ways e.g. by 9I) extension activities and interaction with the field, 9ii) provision of services of a resource and learning center for teachers and instructors, (iii) development of locally relevant materials teaching aids, evaluation tools etc., and (iv) serving as an evaluation center for elementary school and programmes of NFE/AE.
(3) Action research and experimentation to deal with specific problems of the district in achieving the objectives in the areas of elementary and adult education.
Structure of a DIET: Certain General Considerations
Looking to the above functions, a DIET would need to have staff strength in the following areas:
(1) Foundations of Education and Pedagogy:
(2) The subjects taught at the Elementary stages; namely
(i) Languages taught at the elementary level in the district (these may be two, three or even four, depending on the number of language which are introduced in a State at the elementary stage, and factors like bilingual character of a district)
(iii) Environmental Studies –Social Science
(iv) Environmental Studies –Science