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Teacher's Day is an ideal occasion to explore how our educators can be equipped so that they in turn can equip India's young population, writes Ranbir Singh, director, Public Sector, Microsoft India. There was a time when a notebook and pencil were sufficient tools for study in a classroom. In today's world, students need much more to prepare themselves for the job market. The thing that has not changed is the impact a teacher can have on the life and learning of a student. Teacher's Day is an ideal occasion to examine how our educators can be equipped so that they in turn can arm India's young population. The 2011 report of the Planning Commission shows that India's literacy rate has jumped from 65.38% to 74.04% in a decade.
ICT literacy levels, however, have not kept pace, and this is a gap that needs to be addressed. In order to do that, the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007 to 2012) allocates Rs 5,000 crore for providing ICT infrastructure in schools. Under this programme, each school will be provided with ICT infrastructure as well as dedicated programmes for ICT content creation and teacher-training on the computers. This is a fairly mammoth task and one that cannot be accomplished by any one entity alone. A Public Private Partnership (PPP) model is one viable means of improving ICT literacy, especially for the rural sector. Himanshu Shekhar, a teacher in the Government Senior Secondary High School, Plurwari Sarif, in Patna, is a case in point. He says, "To make learning interesting, I use flash animations and PowerPoint presentations." In his endeavour to make learning interesting, Himanshu incorporated the concepts of 'work' and 'energy' within the children's life experiences through technology-enabled learning methods. The most remarkable part of the story is that Himanshu wasn't always adept at using technology in his classroom. In 2010, a training programme called Partners in learning run by Microsoft in collaboration with the Bihar Human Resources Department helped him overcome his fear of using computers and soon he was creating his lesson plans using ICT. In five years, the programme has trained over 708,000 teachers and through them, impacted 35 million students. Himanshu is now a state resource person for guidance and counselling in the capacity building programme run by the State Council of Educational Research & Training (SCERT) in Patna. This is just an example of what teachers can do, and how technology can help. While such attempts are important, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan, faculty shortage needs to be tackled through innovative ways such as technology-enabled learning, and collaborative ICT. Technology can help the education system in scaling up via e-learning hubs that can create a pool of learning and sharing knowledge across boundaries. It can also help to improve access to education for differently-abled children, a priority for the government under the 12th Five-Year Plan. The current system of education requires a transformation if we have to help our children to stay ahead in the years to come. This is especially important for children with limited access to education, both in rural and urban India. We owe them the best quality ICT education, the best insurance a child can have against poverty and lack of upward movement.
Courtesy: Times of India
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