THE TRAGEDY AROUND TEACHERS
Indian mythology is so replete with legendary teacher-student relationships –Vashishta-Ram, Valmiki-Luv/Kush, Drona-Arjuna – that we, instinctively, knowhow central a teacher is to a child’s learning, especially in the formative years. Yet, I don’t remember any film or video in recent times which shows teachers in a formal education system in positive light. A quick check in Wikipediathrows 3 Idiots as the top entry, where the teacher was actually the villain!
And the tragic irony is, that a country which was traditionally a ‘Guru’ to the world, has come to a point where teachers have become the biggest challenge in Indian education system.
- An acute shortage of teachers in primary and middle schools in India. According to credible government data, one in six teaching positions or 1 million positions in government schools is vacant.
- In an attempt to quickly fix the issue of dearth of teachers, several states have exempted candidates from Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) as less than 15 per cent of the aspirants clear it. This has deteriorated the quality of education in the states even further. Many a video clips and surveys proudly showcase hownumber of primary school teachers in rural UP and MP couldn’t even teach English alphabet or basic math in the classroom.
And where has that got our kids?
- The percentage of children in standard five who can do division has declined from 42.5% in 2007 to 26% in 2016 – which means 3 in 4 can’t.
- The percentage of children who can read a standard two text has worsened from 53% in 2006 to 48% in 2016. This means every second Class 5 student in rural India can’t read the text of a class three levels below. (as per The 2016 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
The fact is that Indians, historically masters of education globally, have forgotten how to teach – and learn.
So how did we manage to reach thus far down?
SEARCHING FOR ONE SIDED SOLUTIONS FOR A BINARY PROBLEM?
Binary: Base2 of Math, the cradle of computing and the duality of AdvaitVedantis.
A game of two. A system involving ‘two’where each complements and combines with the other to create the run of play.A system of interdependence where none alone can sustain or thrive.
Teacher-student is a binary. Like parents-kids is a binary. It is hard to find happy parents with miserable kids, or vice versa. Likewise, we’d seldom find a class full of motivated learners around an incompetent, demotivated teacher, or vice versa.
The enthusiasm towards learning amongst teachers and students tend to ebb & flow together. Not realising this is the root cause of our educational woes.
Several well-intentioned solutions are being pursued. Those addressing the problem only on the students’ side – improving infrastructure in schools, or handing them tablets with school curriculum loaded on them, making toilets available, enhancing the quality of mid-day meal. And those that address the problem only on the teachers’ side – improving their salaries, incentives, training programs. But the point that these solutions are missing is that, given the nature of binary at play, nothing at one end will work in exclusion of the other.
So, is there a solution that addresses both teachers and studentstogether, holistically? Something that gets the kids interested, as also ‘arms’ the teachers in terms of both competence & efficacy?
The elusive education Nirvana beyond the shroud of duality?
BHARAT LEARN’S SMART CLASSES IN RURAL M.P. HOLD UP A WIN-WIN POSSIBILITY
We at Bharat Learn, an NGO in the EdTech space, have been running smart classes in remote, rural Govt. schools of Madhya Pradesh, and the early results are most encouraging. Our proprietary FBTM® (Film Based Teaching Methodology)uses a unique mix of pedagogy and technology to enhance teaching-learning experience as a whole.
What Bharat Learn does: Working hand-in-hand with the State Govt. & the district administration, we bring high quality video-based, multi-modal content, mapped to school curriculum to these Govt. schools in the following modules – Student videos, Teacher videos, Tutorial videos, Practice sheets, and even Comics! Classrooms get fitted out with a Solar powered 40” Smart TV, computer & printer, and the schools are supported with teacher training & monitoring software.
We uniquely combine both software and hardware of education to transform the reality of our classrooms. We create a space where our teachers and students can both win together, because therein lies the victory of our education.
- In just 2.5 months of starting, the attendance in the primary classes in these 5 schools has gone up from 45% to 55%. Clearly, the buzz is starting to spread in the community, and more kids are coming in! We even hear anecdotes of how some families, after hearing about Smart Classes, have pulled their children out of local, low cost private schools, and have admitted them into these Govt. schools – how often does one hear that?!
- In the topics that have been covered using the Smart Class methodology, the learning outcomes are increasing ahead of the expected curve – 90% of the parameters show +ve movement! The feedback from teachers & parents are also echoing the same.
- More good news: The 2 PSU giants who are supporting this initiative, NCL & NTPC, now want Bharat Learn to take these Smart Classes into more schools! The School Education Ministry of Madhya Pradesh now wants us to start implementing it in more districts of MP!
And this is what the teachers who have embraced this initiative have to say –
“Both, teachers and students are liking FBTM®. It is making teaching easier and more effective. Children are also learning faster through film and the activities showed in the videos.” Manvati Vaish, Teacher, Primary School, Panjreh, Singrauli
“Children are getting attracted to the computer based classes and FBTM® increasing their interest in the subject. It is an easy and effective way to teach. The attendance in the class has increased.” – Dilip Kumar Verma, Headmaster, Govt. Girls School, Singrauli.
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