Delhi govt launches mentor teacher programme

Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia .

The Delhi Government is making help available to teachers struggling to deliver lessons in its schools. From 1,100 applicants, the Directorate of Education has selected 200 teachers who will serve as “mentor teachers” for their colleagues in other schools. Education minister, Manish Sisodia launched the programme on Thursday. This programme, the first round will last two years, is open to guest teachers as well.

 The selection process was rigourous. The initial circular had asked interested candidates to describe any innovative method they have deployed in class. Jyoti Lakra had used a “speaking pen” — it would read whatever text it’s touched with — in class to get students at her Mundka school interested in learning English. Lakra had found it at a scrap-dealer’s and then shelled out for a new one. “Usually our students are very weak in English. But using this made significant difference to the ‘assessment of speaking and listerning’ component of the curriculum,” she says. She’ll be one of the mentors.
 “We need a network of committed people who can change the system for the better. And also, other teachers will be more willing to listen to you than us (bureacrats) because you are from the same system and handle the same issues,” says Punya Salila Srivastava, secretary, education. However, Sisodia gave them an out. “You can withdraw now if you can’t commit for the next two years,” he says. Srivastava adds that the contribution of those who do sign up, will have to be significant enough to “justify depriving the hundreds of kids whose lives they impact in their classes.”

In the immediate future, the selected teachers who do choose to continue will undergo training in two rounds. Over April and May, there will be a two-day orientation programme followed by a 15-day training programme including both theory and practice sessions and, finally, a residential “Jeevan Vidya Shivir” at Hapur for team-building. “July-onwards, the mentors will start on on-site support and monitoring of classroom practice. Each teacher will be assigned five-six schools s/he will have to regularly visit and meet,” says Atishi Marlena, advisor to the Sisodia.

 Mentor teachers had queries about service conditions. One asked if guest teachers will have the same role as their ‘regular’ counterparts; another asked if they’ll be given transport or have access to resources such as computers and, in one case, “benefits.” The new education director, Saumya Gupta explained that at least this government does not think “only the top-level bureaucrats and ministers can be motivated by things other than money. What we’re asking for is much bigger than these these petty things.” “I can say anything,” adds Sisodia, “You have to ask yourself what motivates you.”

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