From lesson plans and thematic trainings to courses on child sexual abuse and corporal punishment, the Delhi State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) is working on adding continuing education in line for school teachers.
Currently, SCERT offers subject-specific and lesson-specific training only for teachers of grades IX and X in Mathematics, Science and English, through a mobile app called ChalkLit, developed by the NGO Million Sparks Foundation in 2016. The Director of SCERT, Sunita Kaushik, said efforts are now to provide similar training for teachers of classes IV and V in mathematics, as well as for subjects of classes XI and XII.
Kaushik said the push to train teachers online was driven by time and space limitations: “With the modules in the app, we are able to reach 6,000-7,000 teachers at a time. We are running out of space to train so many teachers face to face. Also, training in large numbers can dilute the content. Here, teachers can respond to training individually, and there is also a “teachers room”, where they can get requests approved by their peers. Their routine work is also not disrupted, which is important given the large number of vacant teaching posts in public schools.
Modules typically last around 10 to 15 working hours and teachers have 15 to 20 days to complete them. They are then tested on the app and those who pass with 40% and above receive a certificate of completion. Kaushik said the goal was not to replace face-to-face training but to “complement” it.
A Class IX and X teacher said the app has some useful teaching resources: “There are videos and other content for specific topics, which we can use to make lessons interesting. But there is insufficient space for teachers to discuss, because the main problem we face is to keep the attention of the students.
SCERT has also delivered courses on Child Sexual Abuse and Corporal Punishment, approved by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, for teachers through the app.
However, some teachers criticize the use of an app to develop teaching ability. “The app makes the whole process faceless and uses a unique approach to the needs of teachers and students, especially for complex issues such as child sexual abuse,” said an English teacher.