Teachers and education providers can be identified as the most vital component of the education value chain. Motivated teachers can transform lives of their learners; create new pathways of learning and empower them through academic and psycho-social attainments. Similarly, disinterest and apathy on teachers’ part can prove fatal for the nation, as several generations of talent could be undermined. Thus, building teachers’ capacities and motivation are not a luxury that India could hope to have someday in the future; to achieve the vision of emerging as a major global power tomorrow, creating innovative, robust and effective teacher development systems is an absolute necessity today.
CARE India’s Girls’ Education Program (GEP) is dedicated towards empowering teachers by building and harnessing their capacities through various interventions. One such mode of engagements is the Teachers Resource Laboratory (TRL) supported by ORACLE, wherein upper primary grade (6th to 8th) science and math teachers are not only specially trained, but encourage reflect and develop solutions to issues related to learners, classroom practices and pedagogies. The platform is thus a peer learning opportunity for teachers. TRLs also house science models and learnings aids, made from zero and low-cost materials that can be used in classrooms for scientific and heuristic teaching.
Most of the teachers engaged on this platform cater in the most backward and rural areas of the country. The children studying in these schools are mostly first-generation learners, who belong to socially and financially marginalized families. For these children, and their families, education is mostly viewed as opportunity cost to monetary earnings and support in household chores. Further, the general simile associated with education is that of a tree, which may bear fruits of financial gains only after a decade or two. With such attitudes around education, keeping oneself motivated is a major challenge; add to this non-recognition, minimalistic support at best and defunct professional development channels from the system.
The TRL is thus a fresh breeze of change for the teachers in these geographies. They state with zeal the changes they see in their attitudes and perspectives towards learners, their subjects and their teaching profession at large. Real life based teaching methods, which are heavily promoted in the TRL strategy, are not only joyous for children and teachers, but also far more effective. Teachers notice significant gains in the learning levels of children. Further, better learning outcomes and interest levels of children have influenced a boost in the attendance level of classes. Children have become ambassadors of their teachers and schools at large. This recognition of teachers in communities in turn further boost teachers’ confidence levels and motivate them to perform even better.
Lives of several hundred children and teachers have been transformed and of many millions are yet to be touched. Taking steps towards achieving what we desire; to transform lives of the most marginalized populations in the country, especially girls, we are committed towards up scaling our interventions. The TRL intervention has been recognized by the Government of Uttar Pradesh and will be scaled to all 72 districts of the state.
Truly, the fly wheel has just begun to move!