STIR is leading the charge in education innovation. It is a movement of inspired, engaging teachers who are taking their innovations and scaling them to meet India’s educational needs. In PaperSeed’s collaboration with STIR, we have come to recognize nine exceptional educators whose ideas will help an entire generation of students flourish.
Identifying the Need:
Teacher absenteeism is a problem in many developing countries. Simply put, teachers receive checks as government employees, but do not show up for work. In many regions, such behavior would result in dismissal. However, strong teacher unions and lack of government oversight have compounded the problem. Furthermore, teacher engagement and quality has diminished in recent years and many students are failing to meet important milestones.
Earlier this year, STIR approached PaperSeed with an exciting proposal: a competition that would identify teachers who had the potential to change the face of education in India. Winners would receive the title of “PaperSeed Champion” and be given the means to scale their ideas in the form of micro-grants. PaperSeed Champions would then take their ideas, utilize grant funding, and engage with their colleagues. The result? A ripple of inspired educators with fresh ideas teaching more effectively and enacting tangible change in India’s classrooms. A collaboration was born, the competition was held, and nine champions were chosen.
Meet the Champions:
Dr. Indira has been involved with STIR since its inception. She teaches English using a curriculum she developed herself, utilizing locally appropriate phonics and games in order to strengthen students’ English skills and make learning fun. Now, she is working on a phonetic sound CD and other materials to share her curriculum with other schools.
Pankaj Kumar Chauhan
Pankaj's focus is school management- making teaching easier for teachers and keeping students engaged by directly involving them with things like student council. He has developed a student learning lab and easy-to-follow curriculum for his fellow teachers. Currently, he is working on implementing his methods in 50 schools using an ambitious multi-phase plan.
Children with developmental delays and other special needs are often overlooked in the developing world. Anita Bhardwaj has developed creative methods of engaging her students, and her dedication to including these children in mainstream education has resulted in many parents specifically requesting that their children be sent to her class. By using puppets, delegating responsibilities, fostering independence and encouraging extracurricular activities, she has created a more enriching school experience for children with special needs.
Menstruation carries a stigma and is still a taboo conversation topic in many parts of the world today. That, coupled with families’ lack of funds for sanitary napkins, leads to increased absenteeism for girls during onset of menses. To combat this issue, Sangeeta came up with a simple but brilliant solution. At the beginning of the school year, she asks each girl from 6th-8th grade to contribute five rupees, which she then uses to purchase feminine hygiene supplies for the girls to use as needed. Now she is working with three additional schools to implement the program. Now, she has started working with three other schools, using her strategy and holding sessions to discuss menstruation and feminine hygiene with middle school girls.
Directly addressing the pervasive issue of student absenteeism, Jyoti began sending regular text messages to parents informing them about assignments and upcoming exams as well as attendance. The response positive; parents would often approach her personally if they hadn’t heard from her and they have demonstrated interest in what how children are doing in school. Now Jyoti is working with several other schools to implement her solution.
Many students (and former students) can empathize with fear of math. Vivek Arora, principal of Vivek Modern School in Delhi, approached this issue by introducing Jodo Gyan math kits into the classroom. Grant money from the Teacher Changemaker competition has enabled him to demonstrate the Jodo Gyan kits’ effectiveness in other schools as well.
Using observation, Preetu demonstrates to students how disease is spread and thus the importance of good health and hygiene. This approach is hands-on and engages students in more active learning as they use survey as a research tool to understand disease. Preetu’s work has taken her to five other schools, and she plans to expand her work to more schools in the future.
Raja organizes inter-school competitions in order to build students’ multi-language skills, foster self-confidence and improve interpersonal skills in order to set her students up for a more successful career. Since being chosen as a PaperSeed Champion, Raja has organized 3 monthly competitions across 7 schools in South Delhi. 500 students participated, and their response was definitely positive. Now they look forward to the competitions, and benefit from improved skills that often can’t be taught in the classroom.
Phool keeps students engaged by using tricks and riddles during lecture. Now, he is in the process of compiling these tools into a book. At this point, he has nearly finished writing and is in the process of finding a publisher. Once published he hopes to distribute the book to other schools in his district.