The ambitious InspirED education conference kicks off on August 27, Friday. Organised with the aim of focusing on innovative approaches in the classroom, the conference will draw together hundreds of India’s teachers from around the country.
Mumbai Action caught up with Vandana Goyal, CEO of Akanksha Foundation, one of the key organisations behind the event and pushing for quality education in Mumbai, for her take on the event:
What is the inspiration behind the InspirED conference?
For educators, there are not too many platforms in India today that bring people together to discuss innovation, progressive practices and effective models in a meaningful way. Together with the American School of Bombay, Teach for India and the Asia Society, we felt it was important to create this platform as part of our mission to see that the children we serve, and children across India, have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. The key to transformation in education is the quality of educators available to a system, and InspirED is a major effort to recognise high-quality educators and create a network that is able to impact the education system in classrooms and schools across the country.
Where does the Indian education system stand, the good and the bad?
The greatest positive in the Indian education system is that there are many parents and children out there who really want a great education for their children/themselves. Families living in poverty often push themselves financially to see that their children can go to a good school and tuition classes. There is also a rigor in the education system that instils the importance of discipline and hard work in children from a young age, something missing in the West.
There is huge potential in India to really transform the way that teaching and learning happens in schools across the country. There is a growing demand for high-quality education and the number of players in the sector has been increasing steadily in the past few years. Access – although still an issue – is not in as critical a state as it was 10 years ago, so the focus has now shifted to quality and to student learning outcomes. There is an urgent need to put a renewed emphasis on teacher education, both on principal/teacher training courses as well as continuous professional development and support. There is evidence worldwide that investment in the development of the skills and abilities of educators (teachers and principals) is the greatest lever to create long-term change in learning outcomes, and this is the most important thing we need to focus on right now.
We must also focus on making learning relevant and meaningful for children by adopting child-centric methodology that focuses on learning with understanding and conceptual clarity from a young age, building skills as well as content knowledge in young people.
What impact is the conference meant to have?
The conference is meant to be a forum where educators from across the country can come together once a year to continue to learn effective practices and new methods, while creating a network (both of people and online) where people can connect to each other and have access to resources that will impact their ability in their classrooms and schools. It is a platform and a starting point for a deeper conversation that we hope continues throughout the year amongst educators from across the country.
Your checklist for what is needed to improve the quality of education in India…
- Getting great people attracted to the education profession
- Improving teacher training courses and professional development
- Making classroom instruction child-centric and focused on learning with understanding
- Making curriculum relevant and meaningful for children in today’s world
- Focusing on student learning outcomes instead of inputs
- Educators using data to drive further understanding of how children learn and improving instructional practice
Date: August 27-29, 2010
Venue: American School of Bombay, Bandra Kurla Complex
Visit InspirED India for details.
– Mumbai Action team
Photo credit: Mumbai Smiles