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“Children are like clay and similar to a potter who gives shape to an earthen pot, teachers shape a child’s future. The education we will give these children today, will determine their future,” says 38-year old Rajni Bhandari who has been a teacher for over six years. She currently teaches all subjects in Grade 5 at Sashkiya Kanya Prathamik Vidyalaya, Pipalrawa in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

Rajni is not a stereotypical teacher who teaches students only from textbooks and makes them mug up answers. She is part of a movement that believes in another kind of teacher—somebody who provides quality education and makes learning fun for children in the classroom. She says, “When I teach kids, I first talk to them about things in their surroundings and then connect it to the topic in their course. We cannot burden them with big words. For example, to explain angles to them, I show them walls and benches and show the angles there.”

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A recent graduate from the 2018 batch of the NeTT (Necessary Teacher Training) programme, Rajni was a year into teaching but without any formal teaching education when the Government of India made it mandatory for all teachers to be formally trained to improve the quality of education. It was then that Rajni applied to the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) in Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh in 2016 where Humana People to People India runs their NeTT programme offering a pedagogical course framework to transact the two-year D.Ed. (Diploma in Education) curriculum in a way that provides the teachers with hands-on teaching skills.

This year marks the 10-year of the NeTT programme, implemented in close cooperation with state governments which started in 2009 in Chhattisgarh, followed by Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. The programme is implemented through Doctrine of Modern Methods (DMM), transacted through computers and multimedia centres. During the two-year training, some of the important programme elements include extensive group work; travelling to learn, investigations and actions in the community and theme based project work. The programme has till date graduated 9,351 teachers since it’s inception, and is currently training 4,095 student teachers.

Explaining her time during the NeTT programme at the DIET Dewas, Rajni said, “We did community engagement events and cleaning action projects in the DIETs as well as went out to nearby villages. Once we cleaned our entire campus for three days.  We even visited nearby villages and did a lot of fieldwork and performed drama to create community awareness on topics such as girl child education.”

Rajni had taught before doing the NeTT programme and continues to teach after it. She sees a change in the way she teaches and a big change in how her students are learning. “Today, I use activities to teach my students. They sit in groups and if somebody is weak in something, they help each other.” Using different TLMs (teacher-learning materials) is a big part of the NeTT programme and teachers like Rajni vouch the positive impact of using them. She says, “ Before NeTT, I used to teach very differently. I would take out the books and make the kids write. There was no creativity in it nor did the students pay much attention. Today, I use my mobile and show kids things they cannot imagine sitting in a classroom in a village.”

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In the age of swift transformations, education is experiencing a paradigm shift with the focus changing from behavioural to cognitive learning, which requires teachers to take up new roles effectively and meet challenges of educational reforms in teacher education. Rajni uses many methods to engage the students in her class and teach them about interesting things, apart from curriculum topics. She says, “When I was in school, we would study about the Himalayas only in books but today I can show my students how the Himalayas actually looks on my phone. Children know that the mountains can be climbed but they cannot imagine it the actual process. They think the way shepherds take their sheep and goats up a hill, the same way one climbs a mountain. But that is incorrect, so I use my phone and show them through videos how trekkers climb such heights, what tools they carry with them and why. My next plan is to take the students to see the wind turbines. There is a big impact in seeing and understanding concepts.”

The students in her class come from different economic backgrounds and she wishes to give everyone quality education under the same classroom. Talking about her goal as a teacher, Rajni says she wants more children to join government schools and enjoy the classes. She hopes her students remember her as a good, impactful teacher even after they passout.

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About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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