CHENNAI: Remember that one instance in school, acutely embarrassing for most, where students had to conduct a seminar for the entire class! A project led by a team of IIT Madras’ professors has taken the concept and tweaked it in an effort to find a solution to India’s chronic shortage of teachers at the Primary level in rural schools.
The experimental ‘C minus 4’ program, for which funding has been secured recently, will see older students teaching primary level students in their schools in subjects and chapters they are comfortable with.
Brainchild of Professor Pijush Ghosh, the premise behind the venture is simple - “A student of a class ‘C’ is capable of teaching students of a class four years lower ‘C minus 4’ if properly trained.” “A student of class 8 for example, can be trained to teach a student of class 4 in a subject that he or she is comfortable with,” said Joseph Thomas, V P Development, IIT Madras Alumni Charitable Trust.
A limited pilot, run in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts in the academic year 2013-14 tried out the concept with 18 students - 12 of whom were from rural schools. The relative success of the pilot has now secured funding for a much larger initiative from Technip India Limited. The scaling up of the project will see 40 schools - 20 in TN and 20 in West Bengal join it, planned for the next academic year. The project will be co-ordinated from 4 designated centres in each state, with each centre in-charge of 5 schools.
“C students will be from class VIII or IX. Besides Science and Mathematics, English is another subject to be taught by the C students,” states the program’s project proposal.
Critical to the success of the project is the training of students and that is set to be conducted by teams consisting of training professionals, IIT-M faculty, graduate students and high school teachers. Each centre will then be looked after by a project associate and one staff member - both of whom will be supported from the project fund.
According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, the academic year 2014-15 saw 41.55% of the 7.6 lakh primary only schools in the country staffed by only two teachers. 11.62% had only one teacher and 0.84% (6,404) did not have any teacher at all. And of the total 12.6 lakh schools in India, including those with primary, senior secondary and higher secondary sections, 28.68% have only two teachers, 8.84% have only one and 0.91%(11,249) have no teacher at all.