By Anuradha Rai
Over a year ago, the world was hit by an unprecedented viral outbreak in the form of Covid-19, adversely affecting every possible aspect of our lives, including the education of our children. Data shared by the UNICEF in a recent report highlights the impact of Covid-19 on the Indian education system: over 1.5 million schools shut, affecting 247 million students in 2020!
As educational institutions across the nation rushed to adapt to the new normal by embracing technology, the education sector was faced with an unexpected challenge—how to support teachers and administrators so as to be able to deliver quality education through virtual classrooms?
Empowering educators: The role of teachers in ensuring the quality of education and impacting the lives of children cannot be overstated. In fact, during times of crises, teachers’ role has extended beyond that of ensuring that learning stays uninterrupted to ensuring emotional and psycho-social support.
What recent events have demonstrated with absolute clarity is the need to empower teachers to be able to address these challenges at the grassroots level. Therefore, along with building the digital infrastructure, it is equally important to build the capacity of educators and administrators, as also emphasised in the visionary National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 unveiled recently.
Blended learning is the key: The NEP 2020 highlights the importance of blended learning models—combining the power of technology to optimise traditional pedagogical methods. Even though technology cannot replace a teacher, it can certainly be used to enable and empower our teachers with the right tools to ensure enhanced in-class learning experiences. This blended approach is the most sustainable solution for long-term impact at scale.
Telementoring is one such model that has been globally proven to be effective at bridging gaps and reducing knowledge disparity. This hub-and-spoke model of learning can enable teachers from the remotest parts of the country to connect with subject-matter experts along with a cohort of like-minded peers building professional learning communities that work together and share best practices to learn and grow.
As various studies have shown, mentorship is a key component of professional growth. Leveraging adult learning techniques and interactive video technology, telementoring has the power to provide equitable access to guided practice from experts and best practices being employed at centres of excellence across the nation. The NEP 2020 aims at bringing a systems-level change in the delivery and quality of education in the country. From a human resources perspective, this will require skilling, upskilling and reskilling of educators to bridge this emerging needs gap.
The Indian education system is at the precipice of revolutionary change. The need of the hour is a technology-driven telementoring platform that can provide both the infrastructure and a model of training and development of education professionals. This is critical towards ensuring that in the future, irrespective of disruptions such as the ongoing pandemic, we are able to ensure each child’s right to quality education.
The author is founder principal, Ambience Public School, Gurgaon, and lead, ECHO Education Initiatives, India