The continued growth in information processing, and the advent of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in education, is a game-changer for education, and consequently, the educators. The people we entrust with our children’s education have a very important role to play in their futures and the future of the country as a whole; to accomplish this crucial task, they need to be empowered with thorough guidance and training, with complete assistance in developing 21st century-appropriate skills. To directly quote research studies conducted over the years, “Students succeed when intensive, comprehensive, and high-quality prevention and early intervention instruction is provided by well-trained and well-supported teachers”*.
At present, the traditional method of learning in India involves a blackboard and reading from the textbook, a method of rote learning that is outdated for the changing educational landscape. To enable the well-rounded development of children, educators (especially ECCE educators), not only have to function as high-quality content creators but also have to understand the neuroscience behind early learning and the ecosystem that comes into play when a young child begins to learn.
Unfortunately, the teaching profession in India is faced with a multitude of challenges:
- A basic level of proficiency: Currently, educators across India only have basic skills needed to impart education and train young minds to be future-ready. The onus at present is on developing high-quality educators who help mould a stronger generation of future citizens.
- One-teacher-fits-all: Students across different grade levels study together in one classroom or Anganwadi, with only one teacher explaining all the subjects. Here, subject matter expertise is a problem, along with the appropriateness of curriculum as per the individual learning needs for every child.
- Administrative duties: An already burgeoning workload is further burdened by a host of administrative tasks. For example, teachers are required to handle extracurricular activities, data collation to help with the creation of physical reports, and more, along with teaching their young charges.
- Availability: A less than optimal pupil-teacher ratio, existing training curriculum that requires an overhaul as per the changing needs, and more challenges, see many opting out of choosing teaching as a profession. NEP 2020 has allowed for multiple provisions and considerations in its approach to teacher education, but finding and retaining a high calibre of educators remains a challenge.
- Other problems: Those in the education profession are also bogged down by limited resources (hardware and funding), a vast geographical area with many remote places, a lack of support, and, due to COVID, a drastic and sudden shift of the traditional classroom towards a more blended approach, which sees educators struggle to embrace technology like never before.
The Department of Education, in its latest National Education policy, states, “In all stages, experiential learning will be adopted, including hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, story-telling-based pedagogy, among others, as standard pedagogy within each subject, and with explorations of relations among different subjects. To close the gap in achievement of learning outcomes, classroom teaching learning methodologies transactions will shift, towards competency-based learning and education”.
This policy reiterates adopting new-age skills into the existing teaching framework, adding important experiential methods including gamification, storytelling, art, music, and more. The new education sector as envisioned by the policy aims for holistic, all-round development of young learners by qualified and trained educators.
To see a substantial positive shift in the Indian education sector, particularly in ECCE, educators existing and new will have to be trained in the pedagogy of today’s changing world while also gaining an in-depth understanding of a child’s neurological development as learning is imparted. And, as the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, to adapt to the changing educational ecosystem, educators across India must develop a strong understanding of digital literacy.
The Impact Of empowering the Educators On Indian Education:
- Impact On ECCE: Robust educator training and empowerment programs have a strong impact on early childhood education. A deep understanding of subject knowledge coupled with an awareness of the neuroscience behind early learning results in powerful skill development in the young learners, building a strong foundation for lifelong learning, setting them on a path for success. For example, an English language teacher who knows their subject can easily explain topics ranging from phonological awareness to idioms and puns, without any loss of understanding on the part of their students.
- Developing New-Age Methodologies Of Teaching: The National Educational Policy 2020 describes a whole new way of teaching, including a host of 21st century skills like ‘experiential learning via gamification and apps’, ‘holistic learning’, and more. These new techniques will entice learners more, enabling an improved attitude towards education, which results in an improved and enhanced academic performance.
- Subject Matter Knowledge Improves: A stronger grasp of the subject in question will see educators being able to explain concepts and ideas better, increasing the comprehension by students.
- Improved Performance Of Students: Studies have correlated teacher training to stronger student test scores, adding that the main reason for the improved performance was because the teacher had a better grip on the subject matter.
- Contribution To Economic Prosperity: High calibre educators who are trained, professionally developed, and dedicated, form the backbone of society, transferring knowledge and culture to batch after batch of learners. Forming an essential part of the radical changes we wish to see in our nation, these educators contribute a lot to the economic prosperity of a country.
“The quality of teacher education, recruitment, deployment, service conditions, and empowerment of teachers is not where it should be, and consequently the quality and motivation of teachers does not reach the desired standards. The high respect for teachers and the high status of the teaching profession must be restored so as to inspire the best to enter the teaching profession. The motivation and empowerment of teachers is required to ensure the best possible future for our children and our nation.” -NEP, 2020
A well-trained educator can not only mould a child’s entire future from the early years itself, but they also enhance their talents, helping them thrive in tomorrow’s world of work.
Square Panda is working towards the empowerment of educators via robust and innovative empowerment programs.
*Reference: (c.f. Al Otailba, Connor, Foorman, Schatschneider, Greulich, Sidler, 2009; Al Otaiba & Torgesen, 2007; Rashotte, MacPhee, Torgeson, 2001; Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2006, Torgesen, 2007; Vaughn & Wanzek, 2014; Vellutino & Fletcher, 2007.).