Page 27

Why is CPD important in India at this time? One of India’s priorities, now that levels of school enrolment are starting to approach 100 per cent, is to improve the learning outcomes of over 280 million learners studying in the 1.41 million schools across the country. For this to happen the quality of teaching is paramount and much work is being done on raising teaching standards across the country. While it is important to know how much money is being spent on such inputs as teacher education and physical facilities, policy makers recognise that it is equally important to know what children are learning in the classroom. What kind of knowledge, skills and attitudes does the education system develop? How do assessed learning outcomes reflect the stated goals and objectives of national education systems? What factors are associated with student achievement? Policy makers argue that students will need higher levels of knowledge and skills if they are to participate meaningfully in the world of work, or to access further or higher education. English language is key here too; not only as a requirement for the workplace, or perceived to be, but also for access to education at the higher levels where the medium of instruction is largely in English. Learning outcomes are defined as what a student knows, understands and is able to do as a result of a learning activity. The key word here is ‘do’, particularly in the context of English language teaching and learning where using the language is crucial to success. Rukmini Banerjee, Director ASER Centre, citing evidence from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) published by India’s largest educational NGO, Pratham, suggests that current learning outcomes of basic reading in English are poor. She states that ‘about half of all rural children in Class 8 can read a set of simple sentences and of those who can read about three-fourths can explain the meaning of what they have read.’ (See www.hindustantimes.com/comment/ analysis/when-and-how-english-should-betaught-in-schools/article1-1166370.aspx) The percentages vary across the 35 states and union territories, but it is clear that children are not learning as well as they should. Improving the quality of teaching overall plays a huge part in improving outcomes. CPD is, in turn, a key component of raising standards and of improving the quality of teaching. It is worth noting here how critical it is that the partner organisation has strong engagement with and buy-in to CPD. As Amol Padwad stated at the launch of CPD: Lessons from India, when you’re on your CPD journey you still need to buy your ticket. In an Indian teacher’s case, the school principal, the block or district education officer, the state machinery or even national policy might man the travel desk and so it is essential that there is a shared understanding of what CPD is, so that teachers may be permitted to buy their own ticket and follow their own CPD journey. Even though CPD opportunities are now available online and internet access is increasing fast – 238 million internet users were recorded at the end of 2013 (TRAI, 2014) – few government school teachers have or can afford regular access. Not only this, but the extent to which they use the internet is heavily influenced by barriers ranging from their own levels of English to lack of awareness of such resources and how to access and use them. Online access to CPD also means support from institutions as well as guidance on what to access, where to access it and how to access it.

Continuing professional development in action |

23

Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  
Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...