How to make Government school teachers more productive
The general perception among the public and even among parents, almost everywhere in the country, is that the Government School Teachers in almost every State, are not so dedicated to their jobs; they do not take any interest in making value-additions to the teaching process. However, with different positive experiences in several pockets, it is indeed clear that it is possible to do something in this direction. This article attempts to discuss a few of such possible initiatives in some detail.
Introduction The Government teachers are a relatively better-placed lot in terms of salary and benefits. Today, such packages compare quite well with what is paid in the good private sector organizations. The teachers are also fairly well organized in every State. It is obvious that we have reached a stage where a lot more is expected of such teachers from the different stakeholders of the education process.
There are many are instances of highly inspired Government teachers who have even spent money from their own pockets and have done wonders in terms of results. What makes them click? Passion. Drive for excellence. Motivation from significant others, particularly parents who must have themselves been Government teachers. Thus, it does turn out that for the Government teachers to become more productive, the concerned State Government Education Ministers should a) Identify all best experiences and produce YouTube videos in local languages b) Enable the Parent-Teachers Associations to involve students and society c) Make deep inroads into setting up libraries with CSR support d) Create Staff Training Colleges in important cities and e) Developing Innovative methods of teaching.
Identify best experiences and produce YouTube videos in local languages Local languages are the best vehicles to go ahead in life. YouTube videos in various Indian languages have now added value to the education process. There are so many videos showing Government teachers using vastly different methods of teaching like visual aids, using community leaders to teach a point or two, making use of libraries in the big cities and even using the internet to impart knowledge far ahead of the syllabus and far in excess of their normal duties. Many such teachers have gone on to win the awards for the Best Teachers of the Year and so on. What we urgently need is to multiply this number by fifty and ensure that such videos motivate teachers at various levels. The State Governments will do well to initiate talks with the social clubs like the Leo Club or the Lions Club and so on. Let these organizations announce and select teachers for awards at the local level. The small scale and big industries should also enlarge the scope of their CSR activities to include awards from their organizations for the best teachers.
Enable the PTA to involve students and society Deepening of lakes and ponds in the neighbouring villages and towns, enabling the senior citizens above the age of sixty to receive some aid, taking up organic farming with local farmers, making school students above the eighth standard get involved in significant social work like co-ordination in the various Government related health programs, first aid, and so on, with active support and involvement of teachers, will motivate them to do extra work. The role of the Parent-Teachers' Associations is vital to the success of such initiatives.
This may look like a utopian dream. But it is not. For, a good number of teachers of the Government schools are quite sincere individuals and just need a spark to ignite them. The trick is to enlarge the scope of their activities. The awards should be dangled as a carrot and a lot more encouragement should also happen from the side of the State Governments. This has to some extent already happened in some States, with the respective Chief Ministers presenting such awards, off and on.
Similar initiatives may be put in place to join all the dots and make the teaching process and the community outreach an enjoyable experience for the teachers. The role of the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) is also vital and centric to the success of such initiatives. For, such NGOs are always very close to the action on the ground. Any meaningful action that aims at increasing the productivity of Government school teachers, and also participating in the development process as motivated individuals or groups of individuals should involve the NGOs as stakeholders. In fact, a systematic attempt should be made to learn from any successful initiative in this regard, from anywhere in the country.
Make inroads into setting up libraries with CSR supportThe Government school teachers also need exposure to advanced books in the particular local language and in English. The Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) funds of Corporates should be tapped to set up good libraries in Government schools. Not only should the reading of advanced books be made compulsory for all teachers, but their involvement in making innovations in teaching after reading the advanced books should also be made compulsory as well. For example, an eighth-standard student should compulsorily know what is meant by demand and supply, how the entire world operates on the basis of demand and supply, and so on. Commonsense methods can be the starting point of these efforts as well. For example, if a group of ten students go with their teacher to a bazaar and observe the price of tomatoes at the moment, they would notice that it retails at just Rs10 per kg or even less. The teacher should then explain that though there is demand for tomatoes, the supply is so huge that the prices have fallen to such low levels.
When the students learn a bit more from advanced books and then correlate everything by learning from the field, the cumulative learning will be more meaningful and impactful. Only this sort of associative learning can be useful to both teachers and to students as well.
Create Staff Training Colleges in different cities This seems to be a big gap. There are some facilities for training Government school teachers, but every two districts should have one Staff Training College. Once again, the role and contribution of the local people and the local Corporate organizations or business community is vital. This is not to merely reduce the expense to the Government. It is also to give a bigger relevance and reason for setting up such Staff Training Colleges. In fact, it is vital that a lot of communication flows at various levels.
Such institutions, when they come up, should be manned by the best of economists, sociologists, scientists and so on. There should always be a far bigger role for society, than as of now. For example, consider a situation where the State Government students do as well as the CBSE students. What will happen? More and more parents will flock to the Government schools and this can drastically reduce costs of education for the parents. The spin-off in terms of money available for other purposes in the hands of the parents, who are also vital members of the local community contributing to the cash flow through small and big business transactions in the villages can be easily seen. The spin-off will be huge in terms of positive impact. For example, imagine four children of two bankers who educate their children in a good Government school. The cost of education is zero. The corresponding cost in the nearby private school is Rs2500 per child per month, which is inclusive of all expenses. Imagine a situation where Rs6000 is quite easily saved by each family. Such savings will even go towards meeting the equated monthly installment expense of housing loans taken to build small houses in their village. The demand for steel, cement, tiles, bricks and so on, will go up. The family will also have better financial security. Hence, money that flows towards setting up such facilities has a big long-term impact.
Developing innovative methods of teaching The trick is to learn from the success stories. After all, the passion of some individual teacher sparks innovation in some areas. In some schools. The cumulative learning from such experiences should reach all teachers in visual form and there can be no limit to such innovation at any point in time. The more they become adaptable, the more they can grow as teachers. This is one hard truth that all stakeholders should immediately understand for better results. Naturally, when far better results start flowing in from many places, the State Government schools will become very famous and will act as game-changers. To this end, each of the steps discussed above can indeed lead to far better results.
ConclusionWhatever has been discussed is based on observation of what is largely going on in Government Schools in some places. There need to be some concerted efforts to learn from successful experiences and once such knowledge is available, discussions and actions for improvement in other pockets will hopefully lead to better productivity of Government teachers.
A good article from the author. The well-qualified teachers in government schools are not able to bring good results but at the same time, the teachers in private schools who may not even be well qualified also can produce good results. Why? A private teacher is more worried about his job. He knows that if the results are not as planned, he may lose his job. But a government teacher is not having that threat.
Another point is that the management in private corporate schools will take decisions and arrange good infrastructure so that the teacher can deliver the goods in a better way. Whereas a government teacher will have many restrictions and he has to work within the framework. He has more administrative responsibilities like midday meal arrangements, attendance details etc. These works are making a government teacher lose interest in the job and so does not think of innovative ways of teaching.
I have not seen the concept of the Parent-Teacher Association in the government schools of AP and Telangana. The District Education Officer and the Mandal Education officer will be visiting the schools and teachers will be spending time interacting with them. From time to time a government teacher may be getting assigned works that are in no way related to teaching.
The government should see that all the teachers will spend more time in planning their teaching work. If necessary the government should arrange training classes for them in understanding the new methods of teaching and how to use these modern tools in teaching for the benefit of the students. As mentioned by the author more support and work from the State Education Department and ministry are required to make teachers more effective in their profession.