Teachers' Day 2020: Upskilling Educators For The New Normal

A high-quality teacher accreditation or certification of teacher’s competencies is a solution to flip the current system and make it demand-driven.

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"There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen," said Lenin and he might as well have been talking about how the reforms proposed in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on the one hand and remote/online teaching due to the pandemic on the other have placed the need for competent teachers front and centre today.  

India has approximately 11 million teachers in the school education space. And with approximately 600,000 job changes every year and an almost equal number joining the teaching workforce every year, there is an urgent need to transform our system to build high-quality teachers. Several attempts, which either “mandate” the teacher to attend x hours of training every year or make an 'appeal', have worked in a limited manner. None of these interventions will be effective till the teacher has an answer for a simple question that s/he often asks – why should I do this? And a teacher will ask for, nay demand, professional development when she sees better opportunities, career growth and recognition for good work.   

A high-quality teacher accreditation or certification of teacher’s competencies (not just whether the teacher has completed x hours of training but have the competencies themselves!) is a solution to flip the current system and make it demand-driven.  

The building blocks for this solution are:  

a) a comprehensive teaching competencies framework,  

b) a platform for personalised and self-paced training content mapped to competencies,  

c) voluntary teacher testing towards certification, and  

d) a platform to connect certified teachers to opportunities.  

For example, CENTA’s certification, which connects great teachers to career growth and rewards, has already led to 1,60,000 teachers across India engaging on self-testing and professional development on their own – proving that self-sustained capacity building at the ground level happens when clear linkages to rewards and recognition are available to competent teachers. 

This model also empowers the parents to choose a school or a coaching class based on the quality of teachers, enables schools and other employers to get tangible returns for investment in professional development (because the number of certified teachers they have becomes an indicator of their quality), enables high-quality teacher training and product companies to get demand from teachers, and most importantly, of course, have motivated and competent teachers who raise the bar of learning for our children. 

NEP 2020 recognises these issues and talks about merit-based careers for teachers – and in a survey with 13,000 teacher respondents, 59% voted in favour of this as compared to only 27% voting in favour of seniority as the basis for promotions.   

Upskilling or training needs to have the same approach of “benefit for the individual”. For example, when a premium teacher training course leads to assured placements in international environments – an example being Post Graduate Certificate Program for teachers and school leaders by Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal Global (MaGE) and Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) – it motivates teachers to upskill and inspires more young people to choose teaching as a viable professional choice.  

Needless to say, this approach will also lead to a number of teacher training and education product companies growing rapidly, with demand being spurred by teachers – the highest potential force multiplier in this sector.   

The world is facing a shortage of almost 69 million teachers by the end of 2030. The current pandemic has catalysed the globalisation of teaching and learning, enabled by technology levelling the playing field. Therefore, a wide range of exciting career opportunities have opened up for teachers, almost akin to software professionals a couple of decades ago. And when a certification connects great teachers to these opportunities and combines such incentives to upskill with access to self-paced and personalised upskilling, we can look truly forward to teaching becoming an aspirational profession!   

On this Teachers’ Day, there can be no better way for us to express our gratitude to our teachers than by trying to impact their lives tangibly as they did ours. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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Teachers' Day 2020 upskilling The New Normal

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