By Anjali Jain, Founder & Director, CENTA
“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher,” said Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam. The role of the teacher is finally receiving the attention that it deserves due to NEP 2020 and Covid-19! On one hand, successful implementation of the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 heavily depends on competent teachers. On the other, with teaching being live-streamed in living rooms, society has started appreciating the competencies needed to be a good teacher.
The Indian education system is one of the largest in the world with approximately 11 million teachers in the school education space. The sector witnesses 0.6 million job changes and almost a similar number joining the teaching workforce every year. The size of this system and its impact on the large number of children that it serves mandates an urgent need to transform our system to build high quality teachers. Several attempts, which either “mandate” teachers to attend training every year or make an “appeal”, have worked in a limited manner. None of these interventions will be effective till the teacher has an answer for a simple question that s/he often asks – why should I do this? And a teacher will ask for, nay demand, professional development when she sees better opportunities, career growth and recognition for good work.
A high-quality teacher accreditation or certification of teacher’s competencies is an answer to change the existing system and make it demand-driven. The building blocks for this solution are:
- a comprehensive teaching competencies framework,
- a platform for personalized and self-paced training content mapped to competencies,
- voluntary teacher testing towards certification, and
- a platform to connect certified teachers to opportunities.
For example, CENTA’s certification, which connects great teachers to career growth and rewards, has already led to 1,60,000 teachers across India engaging on self-testing and professional development on their own – proving that self-sustained capacity building at the ground level happens when clear linkages to rewards and recognition are available to competent teachers.
This model also empowers the parents to choose a school or a coaching class based on the quality of teachers, enables schools and other employers to get tangible returns for investment in professional development (because the number of certified teachers they have becomes an indicator of their quality), enables high quality teacher training and product companies to get demand from teachers, and most importantly of course, have motivated and competent teachers who raise the bar of learning for our children.
NEP 2020 acknowledges these issues and has reference to merit-based careers for teachers – and in a survey with 13,000 teacher respondents, 59% voted in favour of this as compared to only 27% voting in favour of seniority as the basis for promotions.
Upskilling or trainings need to have the same approach of “benefit for the individual”. For example, when a premium teacher training course leads to assured placements in international environments – an example being Post Graduate Certificate Program for teachers and school leaders by Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal Global (MaGE) and Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) – it motivates teachers to upskill and inspires more young people to choose teaching as a viable professional choice.
Needless to say, this approach will also lead to a number of teacher training and education product companies growing rapidly, with demand being spurred by teachers – the most high potential force multiplier in this sector.
The world is facing a shortage of almost 69 million teachers by the end of the 2030. The current pandemic has catalysed the globalisation of teaching and learning, enabled by technology levelling the playing field. Therefore, a wide range of exciting career opportunities have opened up for teachers, almost akin to software professionals a couple of decades ago. And when a certification connects great teachers to these opportunities, and combines such incentives to upskill with access to self-paced and personalised upskilling, we can look truly forward to teaching becoming an aspirational profession!
On this Teachers’ Day, there can be no better way for us to express our gratitude to our teachers than by trying to impact their lives tangibly as they did ours.