Published: 14th March 2017
The founder of Teach For India says what exactly is wrong with today's education system
Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India opens up about the various ills of the present education system at The ThinkEdu Conclave
There was a time when teaching used to be a highly respected profession. Over the years, however, there are fewer people taking up the job. Be it the attractive corporate lifestyle or the demands of the profession, teaching has somehow lost its value. The consequences of this loom large over the education system. Think about it, if all the best minds in the country get into other professions, the less qualified are forced into teaching, and hence cannot train students well enough. It's a cycle.
When Shaheen Mistri founded Teach for India in 2008, the idea was to build a movement of leaders who were focused on giving excellent education to all the children in the country. In the last eight years, they have had over 1,200 TFI fellows, who come in for two years to teach full-time in government schools and low-income private schools. "It's not just two years of teaching. It's two years of their leadership development. We also have a strong alumni programme where they go into mainstream careers like business, media or the social sector. But we continue to keep them involved in how they can have an impact on children," says Shaheen.
Right steps: Shaheen Mistri, the founder of Teach For India
So what exactly is wrong with the system, especially when its seems like we're making progress with all the modern technology? Shaheen says, "It is the quality of education. I believe that the biggest thing we need to do is infuse high quality talent into the system. We do have new technology and developments, but it is people who make the change. We need to inspire more people to come and work for our children, and then use the other things to reform the curiculum like technology."
Shaheen believes that teaching isn't just about making your students get good grades. It's a holistic education. "Unless we are attracting our best people into teaching, our country is not going to reach its potential. We need to get away from the idea that teaching is a sacrifice, it's not. In our country, we stiill think that the social sector is a sacrifice. You don't earn any money. Today it's not like that. You can have a good lifestyle, give your kids good education and have a very satisfying aspect to it," Shaheen says.
Unless we are attracting our best people into teaching, our country is not going to reach its potential. We need to get away from the idea that teaching is a sacrifice, it's not. In our country, we stiill think that the social sector is a sacrifice. You don't earn any money. Today it's not like that. You can have a good lifestyle, give your kids good education and have a very satisfying aspect to it
Shaheen Mistri, Founder of TFI
Teach for India is currently recruting for their 2017 cohort, and are looking for thousands more candidates to apply. Although the process is highly selective, Shaheen encourages people to apply, especially those who fit with the mission, are humble, open to learning and are solution-oriented. Selected candidates will undergo rigorous training throughout the programme.