India: Why Teachers Need to Learn
MUMBAI: On 17th January 2019, Asia Society India Centre supported by the HT Parekh Foundation hosted Elizabeth Mehta, Founder Trustee of Muktangan, Ramya Venkataraman, Founder and CEO of CENTA (Centre for Teacher Accreditation) and Fiona Reynolds, Director of Teaching and Learning at American School of Bombay as moderator, for a discussion on teacher education and the possible practices that could be undertaken to improve the quality of pedagogy and teaching in India. Aditya Natraj, Founder of Kaivalya Education Foundation, joined the discussion through a video call.
Reynolds began the programme with a brief presentation on teacher training which touched upon facets of education programmes, 21st century skills, technical competencies and a quick evaluation of countries with the best education systems around the world. She opened the evening’s discussion by asking her co-panellists about the kind of qualities educators today need to promote in classrooms to prepare their students for the future. While Mehta stressed on the importance of inculcating 21st century skills (collaboration, creativity, communication, leadership, problem solving) in students, Venkataraman spoke at length about the required technical competencies teachers need to possess - including fundamental subject understanding, student assessment and knowledge of pedagogical sequences among others. Natraj later added to the discourse by sharing his thoughts on the current state of teacher education in the country and the lack of quality teacher development institutions in the country.
The discussion later explored the issues plaguing teacher training models in India and measures to motivate teachers to improve themselves. Venkataraman suggested promoting internal changes that would create opportunities for career growth and providing rewards for best performances among teachers which in turn would give an impetus to educators everywhere to improve their skills. From government inaction to flawed assessment metrics, Natraj reiterated the need for a providing better learning environment in classrooms and introducing systemic changes that would help establish a more positive work culture for teachers all over the country.
When asked to share a few concluding remarks that could help improve teacher education, Mehta strongly recommended promoting better communication between teacher educators and teachers in order to improve pedagogical practices in the classroom, while Venkataraman vouched for establishing teacher certifications that are sufficiently acknowledged by schools and parents. Natraj proposed bringing major changes to district and state level leadership in education by appointing qualified teachers to senior positions, who would help improve education policies with their experiences and insights.
As reported by Deepashree Mahajan, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre