IntroductionAs a former student of a prestigious CBSE School within the BHEL Township, at Tiruchirapalli in central Tamil Nadu, the r s krishnan higher secondary school, I can vouchsafe for some differences it has made to our lives. The Alumni are spread throughout the world and some are also CEOs of big corporations. The vital difference has been the dedicated team of teachers, the entire ecosystem where the teachers went all out to teach us too many things that we never knew before. This is called "exposure" in normal educational terms. Yet, this was the vital exposure that stood us in good stead in the years ahead.
We had professional managers from BHEL who would teach us everything about banks and how to write a cheque, what is a fixed and recurring deposit, and so on when we were in the VIIth standard. We were taught about all nations. We had too many quiz competitions and each of these was on sports, the geography of nations, political affairs and so on. Hence, we all knew what the role of the Constitution was and how Dr.Ambedkar was a great reformer. Since it was a township with different cultures, we were extremely tolerant and we had no discrimination amongst us based on caste, or community or religion or region or whatever.
Cut to the fabulous loyola college chennai. The teaching methods were just an extension of what I had already seen at the school. The entire emphasis was on personality building. Not a single day was spent on only teaching the syllabus. The chemistry of value-addition would thus entail; a) Innovation in teaching methodologies b) Motivation of teachers c) Salary and perks to teachers d) Taking all internships seriously e) Making every effort to brand the institution and f) Benchmarking for more excellence.
Innovation in teaching methodologies One should always learn from the country's best schools and colleges. vidya mandir senior secondary school mylapore chennai and padma seshadri balabhavan senior secondary school chennai in Chennai would rank among the best in India, in terms of quality of education. The inquisitiveness of students is key. They are never taught to merely do the cramming. This is, unfortunately, what most schools encourage their students to do.
Within the syllabus of CBSE or State Board, there are innovations that can be made. For example, if there is a lesson on the arms of the Executive such as the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies, the students should be made to compulsorily do all homework and collect all information. For example, if the students are able to find out everything about some ten States, their Chief Ministers, their policies, and so on, in the VIIIth standard, it is quite likely to open up their minds. They would be tempted to learn more. The key is to play around the syllabus. Only such projects will open up new vistas of knowledge and help the children learn better in an integrated fashion. Merely following the lecture method would only help preserve the status quo and give the teachers their familiar comfort zones and this will only spell disaster for the school in the long run.
If one were to think that such innovations do not happen in the Government schools, think again. Across Tamil Nadu and most of South India, there have been reports of teachers who have innovated in their own little ways and have actually taken the schools to the next level in terms of excellence. All this has been possible only because of a few dedicated teachers, who have made all the difference.
Motivation of teachersApart from salaries and some perks, what would motivate the teachers is a constant pat on the back. If the Principals were to even sit in some class or the other every week and just observe what is going on, the concerned teacher would improve his performance. No room should be given to criticize the teacher. Instead, the teacher should be made to understand the areas of improvement in a non-critical manner.
Only such innovations can motivate teachers. There should also be small awards such as the "best teacher of the quarter award" and the criteria should be explained clearly. No favoritism should be encouraged. In this fashion, we can see some drastic improvement.
Salary and perks to teachersOnce again, some innovations are called for. If there can be a free lunch served for the teachers, it can make a big difference. There are many teachers who travel such a long way and reach school. If they can pack off their husbands and come straight to the school and be served a good lunch, it can make a big difference. The cost can be made up in increased motivation and dedication of teachers. Similarly, PF and Gratuity should be compulsorily provided. As of now, only residential schools are providing such perks. The other schools also need to reform themselves quickly. For, if you pay a pittance, you can get only monkeys and the school or college will be gone in the rat race.
Taking all internships seriouslyThis is particularly true of all engineering and arts and science colleges. The Managements need to sign MOUs with as many industrial organizations as possible. For example, during the summer vacation between the second and the third year, the B.Sc( Chemistry) students should be made to undergo an internship in a laboratory of a pharmaceutical organization. This will enable them to be far ahead of their peers and a few of them may even be absorbed for regular employment. For example, there are so many colleges offering the BA(Tourism) course in many cities. These colleges should have MOUs with the State Government tourist departments and the three-star hotels for unpaid internship. Since domestic tourism is expected to simply take off in the post-COVID-19 phase, it can be reasonably expected thar this sector will come back to normal at least in April 2021..
Making every effort to brand the institutionThere are some branded deemed Universities. The best and well-known examples in the corporate circles are the vellore institute of technologyand srm university deemed Universities. They have taken up to three decades to reach their present stage. It has been a continuous attempt to increase standards of engineering and management education and even undergraduate education with a missionary zeal. Since the teachers are paid very well and the tie-ups with the industry happen as a matter of routine, they started becoming recognized. When the placements started increasing and the wider world sat up and took notice, these institutions became branded ones. Today, these rank among the best in the country and some are even ahead of the NITs in many rankings. In fact, VIT has been able to attract a number of NIT teachers. Nothing comes free. If Managements think that they can or should only make money, they are making a big mistake. Branding of schools and colleges does take time. However, it does pay to brand any educational institution.
Contrary to public perception, branding is not rocket science. The brand equity of any college will increase only when the college is able to produce students who are ready to take on challenges in the Corporate world. This does take some ten years of hard work. There is a big difference between "mere teaching" and "teaching with a purpose". Even ordinary History classes can be made interesting with the help of references to tourist spots such as Mamallapuram near Chennai. History students can be given practical work concerning tourist arrivals in a particular tourist spot with historical importance. Similarly, the BA (English literature) students should be taught additional skills in spoken English, particularly in rural areas. For, the Corporate Sector is never kind to any graduate with this specialization, but without adequate spoken English skills. A branded college like the Sona College of Engineering, at Salem, can offer food lessons for the eighty-odd engineering colleges in that region.
Their methods of teaching and training should be properly understood and then put into practice in a big way. In this fashion, a revolution can happen in those colleges that really travel the extra mile in getting their act right
Benchmarking for more excellenceThe deemed Universities like SRM have been innovative from day one. They now have several international collaborations. Their teachers go abroad on assignments and to attend international conferences. Their linkages with industry happen as a matter of routine. This is exactly the way forward. Value-addition cannot happen in a vacuum. Nor is it an exercise that can happen in just a few years' time. Foreign universities have their own benchmarks and this process makes it even more challenging.
ConclusionBased on widely known and acknowledged results, a few examples of some good colleges and some ways to achieve value-addition in schools and colleges have been discussed above. Hopefully, the Managements of educational institutions will see the writing on the wall and institute the change processes to get their act together. Nothing is going to come free and every effort should be for the long haul. That is of course not a choice. It is a given.
Motivating a teacher will result in better performance of the students. How to motivate them? If the students are responding positively to the teacher's questions, that is an indication that the teacher is able to do his job properly. When the superior comes to the class and ask questions to the hearing students and the responses are good, we can infer that the teacher is doing a good job. A teacher should feel that he is not doing a job but he is making people ready for tomorrow.
If the teachers are properly paid and if they are respected by the management, teachers will feel happy and show more interest in teaching the students. The motivation will come always with extra money but there are some motivations which require no extra money. While addressing the students in a meeting if the Head Master of the school mentions and appreciates a teacher that will give him extra energy and inspire him to work more enthusiastically so that his students will be on the top of the rank list.
Teachers are the worst sufferers in some schools because of low pay structure and other incentives despite their best capabilities. Identifying their constraints and streamlining the same could go a long way in uplifting their morale and confidence. The Principal of the schools should be given autonomy to reward the deserving teachers in a befitting manner. Such efforts to encourage the teaching staff would have a favourable impact on the mind of teachers. Time to time, they should be served with the appreciation letters highlighting their selfless service.
The author has rightly indicated the efforts of some private institutions like VIT Vellore, SRM University etc to uplift the sentiments of the teaching community. A little encouragement translates to an excellent reputation to the institution as a whole.