New Delhi: The government is considering building a content depository for teachers to create, curate and disseminate teaching material as it explores ways to improve the quality of education.
A content depository, the thinking in government circles goes, may improve the learning outcome of schools. And the presence of a ready, up-to-date resource will help school book and curriculum publisher National Council of Education Research and Training, or NCERT, update its curriculum every year.
The depository and an online resource for teachers (think teaching methods) will reside on an open source software platform developed by EkStep Foundation, promoted by Infosys co-founder and former Unique Identification Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani.
Teachers can access it from their computers, or through an app on their phones.
“The new system that will have multiple benefits—teachers at one place, teaching-learning materials of a teacher at one place and ultimately the professional progress report of teachers at one place," said school education secretary Anil Swarup. “We are using the Ekstep open source platform at no cost."
The government’s plan is to allow over six million teachers in over 1.5 million schools across India to create innovative content—audio, video and text—which will be screened and rated by an official panel. If a teacher, for example, looks for resources on the post-independent history of India, he or she will be directed to certain chapters, videos and text materials.
Nilekani did not immediately respond to calls on his mobile phone and a text message. EkStep Foundation also did not immediately respond to an email seeking its comment on the collaboration.
The content uploaded by teachers will be rated by their peers.
A. Santhosh Mathew, chairman of the National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE), said that this platform could make “islands of excellence" in teaching become mainstream and ensure that best practices and content are shared among the teaching community.
“Beyond content, it will allow education authorities and regulators to assess what kind of training is required for teachers," Mathew added.
The move comes following establishment of an online academic repository of education certificates that will allow educational institutes and employers to access student data (with permission) for verification of education credentials to curb forgery and job-related frauds.
India’s school sector is currently valued at around $70 billion but it does face a quality challenge, said Aurobindo Saxena, head, education practice at consulting firm Technopak. Teacher education reform is a requirement, but the sector can’t be fixed through isolated reforms, he added.