By Lata Jha:
On one hand, there are millions of children craving to be able to read, write and lead themselves to light. On the other, several adults are waiting to use their time and talents well.Â Muktangan, an organisation which works with Mumbai public schools, is a relatively small player in the education system, but is contributing extraordinarily to a larger debate over how India’s teachers should be recruited, trained, developed and used to transform lives. Across Mumbai, there is a shortage of both public school spaces and qualified educators.
Muktangan has tried to address the problem in an unconventional way, in the last decade, it has trained almost 500 teachers, who start out with a 12th-grade education in any local language and at least 3rd-grade-level English. The teachers work towards higher degrees, while teaching the young children.
The idea behind Muktangan was to break teacher training into levels for primary, middle and high school, and to let the educators basically move up the grades along with their students. These are women from the local community, all folks outside of the higher education realm.
In its unique way, it hopes to work towards eliminating the disconnect between teachers and students, and the elitist approach that is often adopted. Muktangan’s biggest obstacle has been its inability to get government accreditation for its teacher education program, absolutely mandatory under India’s Right to Education Act. Failure to comply with it can result in withdrawal of government financing and of official recognition.
Muktangan is, at the moment working with only seven schools, but its unique take on teacher training is beginning to have a vast influence. Last autumn, it even worked with UNICEF and the Maharashtra State Council of Education, Research and Training to assist teacher trainers in the state. Their 60 workshop participants went on to reach some 10,000 teachers additionally.
The most beautiful aspect of the entire process happens to be the way these teachers’ lives are changing. These women often lag behind on account of both poor English skills and family pressure. But Muktangan has been able to bring them out of their kitchens. They can now hope to make a difference to their lives and those of others.