There are many things wrong with our schools, starting from there not being enough schools, to lack of blackboards, lack of toilets, shortage of money, bad practices, corruption -the list is long.
Time and again, however, we have seen that a good teacher, with enthusiasm and commitment, can beat all odds and help nurture great students. While many things together make a good school, probably the one over-riding factor more important than all the others is a Good Teacher.
At Bal Utsav we believe that there is an urgent need to develop good quality teachers. Though there is no short term solution, we understand that the destiny of India is now being shaped in our classrooms. We believe that no person can rise above the level of their teachers and thus we believe that we need strengthen our teachers through a comprehensive strategy. This would encompass
- attracting good students to take up careers in teaching
- giving them the requisite teaching skills
- developing refresher programs for existing teachers, and
- recognising and rewarding excellent teachers
At the core of a good education system are good, dedicated and capable teachers. A teacher who could teach any subject, but ﬁrst needs to learn the art of teaching children. It is important that every teacher loves the children they work with, loves the profession of teaching, can facilitate classroom learning and has the requisite skills to transfer knowledge.
Teaching, for the most part, has become the `last refuge’ of bored housewives, unemployed youth and ambitious tuition seekers. Fewer and fewer people are entering the profession due to love for teaching, professional competence or a spirit of making a difference. By and large, students from the bottom of the class are becoming teachers. Instances where people have turned to teaching after being refused positions as bank clerks are not uncommon.
This can be catastrophic for a nation, as lesser and lesser capable individuals teach successive generations. The result is falling standards and stagnation in living conditions. In such a situation, it is comforting, but foolish, to look at the successes of a miniscule population that does well in India and abroad and console ourselves. For any society, investing in education means recognising its importance, being willing to pay its costs and an unrelenting effort to develop good teachers.
A judicious mix of traditional methods and unconventional techniques can develop a great teacher. Writing in “The Road Ahead“, Microsoft head Bill Gates describes how technology will strengthen and enrich the teacher and the teaching profession. The teacher’s role will be less of transferring textbook information to students, and more of inspiring, guiding and helping children discover for themselves.
Bal Utsav’s efforts have been in this direction, and we are ready now to embark on an exciting phase in our programs in education of children, that of creating great teachers, and specifically great teachers in primary education.