Increase the Pool of Teachers

9 May


The Pioneer headline for this was:


Thursday, 02 May 2013 | Meeta W Sengupta | in Oped
It was interesting how the headline grabbed interest, and the other suggestions in the Op-Ed were paid much less attention!
The text is here:

It is time to bring in trained and proven faculty from all over the world to raise standards of learning in India that can match global levels

The demographic dividend is upon us; let us prepare them for their prosperous future, let us skill them. If we don’t, they will have no jobs, will know nothing and will run riot on the streets. The demographic dividend will turn into a demographic disaster. If these hands don’t earn, what will they eat? Where will the taxes come from to pay for the roads and lights? Who will bear the nation’s medical bills? No, we do not speak of the malaise of dishonesty today —  honest problems are large enough. So, first we must teach them, then we must train them. We build schools in each district, invite public-private partnerships, while silently asking: Where are the teachers? We need all hands to the till, teaching in schools, in colleges, in ITIs, in skills units all over the nation.

Do we have enough hands and heads to teach? Are they good enough? The truth is that the number of teachers and trainers in India falls far short of what is required. We need millions more each year, and we need them to be good. The numbers range from five million to 11 million per year, depending on how you count it — the higher number including pre-school and post-secondary education too. There are two clear hurdles in finding so many teachers and trainers. First, the quality of education has been allowed to suffer so badly in the past two decades that it is very difficult to find literate, articulate people even in graduate schools. Their degrees are no assurance of subject mastery, their crisp presentation to guarantee of their ability to share and communicate. Many studies have shown that the certified are not well educated. Are they worthy of becoming teachers? Second, the quality of teacher training is poor. Very few of the thousands of teacher- training institutes produce good teachers — many of them cannot even pass the Teacher Eligibility Test. While these teacher training outfits are showed up as inadequate in producing good teachers, it is equally true that India does not have enough teacher training institutes. The current capacity is woefully inadequate and lags demand.

Where can we find more teachers? We will have to expand the pool of people that participate in the selection and training process. The Teach for India programme finds and trains teachers among graduates and professionals engaging them in a two-year programme. Government schools are experimenting, with local para-teachers who may not be fully qualified but are engaged in the progress of the community.

The pool needs to diversify to grow. Pathways to teaching practice need to be created for retraining people returning to the workforce. There are thousands, if not millions, who have been performing care-giving duties in their homes and need to find a way to employment once those duties are done. They are educated, competent and keen to participate. Some, who are still committed to other priorities, could engage on flexible working platforms such as job shares, project-based work or fixed-time working. This needs to be done professionally — institutes will need to contract for scope of work, not jobs and employees will need to commit and deliver to results. Job shares are an excellent way of bringing talent back to where it is needed while managing social contracts. Often people who wish to give something back to society volunteer to teach. While the intent is noble, it may do as much harm as good. Teaching is not merely standing and speaking in front of a group of children. It is a skilled job that brings out the best in students in the long run — often the tools in play not visible to bystanders. Holding a group together and taking them on an intellectual journey is not for the layman. Nor for the subject expert, unless they have been shown the ropes of teaching. Experts in their field who want to share their learning must be brought into the pool, but experts do not always make good teachers. They will need to be trained in teaching.

India’s best bet for increasing the number of teachers is imports. Bring in trained and proven teachers from across the world to raise education standards to global levels. Bring in trainers to enthuse Indian teachers and show them different ways of teaching and learning. It is fair exchange. India imports teachers and exports unemployment, our demographic dividend — now-skilled to international levels to meet the projected shortages in many countries.



The link and the comments can be accessed here:



One Response to “Increase the Pool of Teachers”

  1. behrfacts May 9, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    Importing teachers just shifts the problem to other countries. Is this what India really wants to do? Surely it would be better for India to develop a widening virtuous circle of well educated young people with good pedagogical/leadership skills to become the teachers/heads of tomorrow. Teach First is starting to have an impact in England and there is even a scheme which introduces school children to a teaching career.

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