Educating Millions: Thoughts on a new model

Going back to the Drawing Board:
Several years ago, around the year 2009, I wrote a piece for the National Council for Teacher Education, that was published in a volume ” Teacher Education: Reflections Towards Policy Formulation” edited by M.A.Siddiqui, A.K.Sharma and G.L.Arora.
The piece had the title ” Information and Communication Technologies in Education: Implications for Teacher Education” and while many details in 2009 have been fundamentally changed, it had a section at the end, for which it seems that the time is ripe today.
In fact the last sentences of the article have been copied below:
“In going back to the drawing board to ‘re-look’ the education system to meet the challenges of the future, where the starting point is not 20 students of similar abilities in a class but a million diverse learners who have to be transformed efficiently over a short period of time with predictable rates of success and then this model of teaching a million students at a time, has to be replicated a hundred times.”

For ready reference, the last part of that article is copied below:

11. Independent Educators:

We need to re-assert and re-establish the supremacy of the teacher, and not the bureaucrat or the Institution. S we enter the Knowledge Economy, it is important to appreciate that education alone will create valuable knowledge products for global use, and this alone will let us flourish ad thrive in the new age. If we establish a teaching profession, which meets International standards in keeping with the call of globalisation, it permits independent practitioners to move about under mode 4 of the GATS as well as practice their profession at home without the need for Institutional intermediaries, and with access to training in modern ICT tools, both for synchronous and asynchronous interactions across the globe.
In the recent years, the three ideas that have had a huge impact on the way organizations work are quality, business processes and their re-engineering and the importance of intellectual capital. All three must be assimilated into the educational systems, because it is the teachers who will become leaders in the knowledge economy, as they alone know how to construct knowledge. A mere expert knows his subject, but a good teacher knows how a person can learn the subject. If it can be done in a measured way, it can develop into teaching technologies rather than mere magic at the hands of a great teacher or anon-replicable art in the hands of a few that will eventually die out. With the help of well developed learning contracts, clearly articulated learning outcomes and learner tracking systems, it can almost be ensured that the agreed learning outcomes are achieved.
Just as it is legitimately possible for any lawyer, doctor, engineer, architect, chartered accountant to work for a state government, the central government, a large corporation, a small business or to work independently on his own, it should be possible for qualified educators to work outside the traditional Institutional framework on their own.

The separation of powers doctrine in governance applies most neatly when ministerial departments implement legislation made by Parliament and are subject to judicial review by the courts. Like the separation of powers in good democratic governance and the principles that are being applied to good corporate governance, if we decouple the responsibilities for laying down of standards, conduct of examinations, the teaching-learning processes, and maintain databases that are shared with potential employers of qualifications acquired by learners, holding the certificates in de-materialised forms like we do for de-mat shares, we can see a lot of opportunities for educationists. Collective, co-operative networking arrangements with branded teachers working together under a brand that communicates a commitment to a shared vision would remove many ills of the present system and unlock the large potential that we have in retired accomplished teachers or unemployed younger talented people. Teachers need not ever retire and can continue to play a role in imparting education till they can do so (incidentally there is no retirement age for politicians, lawyers, doctors and many other professions). This idea is a very straightforward solution to the twin problems of educated unemployment and not enough access to education to the needy.

The other professions have bodies such as the Bar Council, the Medical Council, the Institute of a Chartered Accountants. We can have such an Educational or Teachers Council, which may be a constituent component of NCTE.
The recent amendments in the Companies Act that are proposed regarding the one person Company and the concept of Limited Liability Partnership can help facilitate this further. Educators can work independently as one person company in their individual capacity, or a group of educators can form a limited liability partnership, and in both these ways can seek investors and support from financial institutions, especially those dealing with small and micro-enterprises. And if required there can be special provisions for such educational entities to prevent any possible abuse.
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