“Education is a powerful weapon that can change the world” - Nelson Mandela.
So obvious. Isn’t it? Ask anyone about how to solve the problems of our country and one point common in everyone’s answer will be to impart “quality” education. However, my heart sinks when I cast a look around. To say the least, Indian education system is at the verge of being crippled. Undoubtedly, there are some great schools in private sector but one must never forget that India is a land of villages. Nearly 80% of children who attain school are served by public sector, which accounts for 93% of India’s total schools. We often complain about poor learning levels in government schools. Honestly speaking, instead of complaining, we must try to do something. We all want to help but only a few of us really come forward. One among those initiatives is “Teachers as Transformers”.
A glimpse of history:
It was in 1998 when UNICEF, Gujarat presented a volume under the title “ Teachers as Transformers” , by Vijaya Sherry Chand and Shailesh Shukla, Ravi J. Matthai Centre for Educational Innovation , IIM-Ahmedabad .It presented the work of 30 outstanding teachers of Gujarat. Many of them have received best-teacher awards. All of them are acknowledged as outstanding teachers. In their own ways and in their own spheres of activity; they have transformed various dimensions of primary education.
‘Teachers as Transformers’ after being triggered as just a concept, bridged the gap between earnest teachers and curious students. It aims at getting the positive education policies institutionalized. Any policy cannot be framed without listening to the curators at the grass-root level. It does exactly the same; listening to the innovations by teachers and spreading them across the country. One of their own kind, equipped with their unique”Educational Innovations bank “(as they call it); they have been enabling innovations that support schooling, and in-school or in-class innovations that are directly connected with learning. These innovations are solutions to specific educational problems that the teachers have faced. If shared and discussed, they can inspire other teachers to solve their own problems, thus raising the quality of education. They mark their association with Gujarat Education Innovations Commission, Gujarat Council of Educational Research (GCERT), State Innovation and Research Foundation (SIRF), SRISTI, Honey Bee Network and many others.
Who are these teachers? They are the one among many innovative teachers working in the public (panchayat or state government) primary school system. When I say teacher, what I think of is a group of dedicated persons striving to make an impact. If children are the leaders of future, they are the architects of present. Their own reflection and creativity are often the only resources available to them; and their voices usually remain unarticulated, unheard or lost in the cacophony of reform talk. National policy documents seldom draw upon their insights and experiences. The neglect of their experiences, conspicuous as it is, also partly explains, why the goals of imparting quality education are still unmet. There is where and why this initiative comes into light. Through the likes of Teachers as Transformers, experiments done by them at individual level is not just made public but could also be taken up as policies and implemented elsewhere.
Some special features :
Teachers as entrepreneurs: ‘Edupreneurs’
The financial status of government schools is known enough to need any comment. The only resources available to the teachers were meagre contingency amounts for meeting the costs of chalk and dusters. Mobilization of resources from the community may sometimes act as a spur for social participation in school activities, or participation in school activities may lead to resource mobilization. Some teachers have built on the cultural traditions of contributing on auspicious or religious occasions to mobilize resources for the school.
“If the priest can beg for help in godly matters without any sense of shame, I should not hesitate to beg for the betterment of the school”
- Manji Prajapti, a teacher connected with Teachers as Transformers.
Innovations for transformation
Starting from the regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat, they are on course to spread their on field network in different regions. They have an innovation cell in almost every district of Gujarat whereby a local teacher is made the coordinator cum contact person.
KBC (Kaun Banega Champion)- organizing quizzes based on the famous TV show KBC; using morning assembly as a platform to showcase talent; giving attention to local biodiversities and organizing Science fairs are a few of many steps taken up by teachers involved which increased student participation manifolds.
To identify innovative teachers, a multi-pronged approached was followed. At the DIET (District Institutes of Education and Training) level, various writing workshops were organized where teachers identified by the DIETs, BRCs and CRCs were invited. In these workshops, the teachers were guided to write about innovations implemented by them, in a pre-defined format. Further, follow-up field visits were conducted for innovations identified through the writing workshop.
Extensive field visits were also done to scout for innovations not covered through the writing workshop. These innovations are compiled in one file with translations in English, Hindi, Gujarati as well as Marathi, which acts as an inspiration for other teachers as they not only can use them but are also pushed to think out of box and develop innovations of their own.
Supporting over 80 different dialects, their web site is a complete delight for anyone interested in mastering their skills at teaching. There is a humongous pool of information with ideas pouring in from every ounce. The best part is; any teacher can register here and put forward their innovations, take part in ongoing discussion though their discussion forums. Moreover, the ideas and innovations posted by esteemed teachers are available to everyone who goes to their website. Also there’s collection of educational videos on website in regional language that can be used by teachers. Talking about the discussion forums, these are well classified based on region. This enables common hurdles being discussed at a common platform.
Looking at the level of commitment shown by the people involved, one thing is certainly that this step in years to come is heading forward towards a revolution; transforming education; inspiring lives and above all redefining the improvement of human resource for socio-economic development of our nation.
Team SocioVigil is very thankful to Teachers as Transformers team for interacting with us, sharing with us important insights. Below is the link of some compiled cases of innovation techniques employed. Go through it and get the feel of exact work being done.
The present article was worked upon by :
Vatsal Sanjay & Vaishali Jain – Team Sociovigil