Unhappy with the performance of its own teachers employed with the corporations, zilla parishads and other government bodies, the Maharashtra government has now asked an NGO, Pratham, to help scale up the primary education sector.
In a pilot project engaging 100 schools in each of the 35 districts in the state, members of Pratham will provide practical training to the teachers in the classroom after observing how well they teach and whether the students are actually able to learn.
The project aims to “improve the reading, writing and mathematical skills” of students in classes 2-5 students by upgrading the skills of the teachers.
“Approximately Rs20 crore has been earmarked for the project,” confirmed NK Jarag, director of the State Council Educational Research and Training (SCERT), who is spearheading the project.
The schools have been already shortlisted, and meetings are on to explain the project to the education officers of all the districts.
Jarag added, “The project aims to train teachers in the classroom itself and not in the workshop, which is theoretical. The resource persons will be there in the classroom along with the teachers and give them practical lessons on teaching a particular subject. The focus would be on teaching methods and whether or not kids are able to learn with those methods.”
He further said that if successful, the project will be implemented across the state. Before initiating the project, the students will be tested for the reading, writing and mathematical skills.
While the government feels this project would be a game changer, teachers are wary. “This is unwarranted. This would be an insult to the teaching community. Teaching is an acquired skill and every teacher has his or her own methods. If the NGO members tell us our method is not right in front of the students, it would hamper our credibility,” said one teacher, requesting anonymity.
Ramesh Joshi, president of BMC teachers association, condemned the move. “This would further dent the image of the public education system and its teachers.”
Jarag, however, denied the charges, saying that they are concerned about the students.
According to a survey undertaken in 2012 by Pratham, one of three children in class 2 in Maharashtra can’t recognise numbers from 11-99. More than 50% children in class 5 cannot do basic division. Even the baseline test conducted by the state for 74,000 class 9 students was shocking. Over 64% failed in Mathematics, 33% in English and 30% in Marathi.