Regulations bound schools across the country to hire teachers who have a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree. However, several Chennai schools have relaxed this requirement and are hiring professionals -from chartered accountants and engineers to scientists -to teach their students.
Take for instance the case of Uma Maheshwari whose qualification for becoming a computer science teacher at HLC International School was her 14-year stint in Wipro and a desire to teach. The institute director Naveen Mahesh said, "We only look for what a teacher can bring to the subject, whether it is a professional outlook, or a wider perspective. I don't think any of my teachers have a B.Ed," says Mahesh. "I believe B.Ed is flawed by design. It is more theory-oriented," he says.
Mahesh further says that, schools that follow the Indian boards such as state, matriculation, ICSE or CBSE have to compulsorily hire teachers with a B.Ed degree, but schools prescribing to IGCSE, Cambridge International Exams (CIE) and International Baccalaureate (IB) boards are not bound by this. Several of these schools with international boards are hiring professionals as teachers as they believe they bring more to the classroom. "I don't have a B.Ed," says Maheswari, but adds that she has hands-on experience. "I can tell my students what the corporate world wants from a computer professional," she says.
Some Indian board schools such as the Lalaji Memorial Omega International School in Chennai -which offers several streams from NIOS to CBSE and IGCSE – have also joined the bandwagon by working around the rule by hiring full-time `subject matter experts' (SMEs) who don't appear in the official teacher lists submitted to the boards. "They have degrees from the IIMs, and the IITs. But they don't have a B.Ed," says senior principal Bhavani Shankar, an engineer himself.
Last year, even though the Centre said it was turning the one-year B.Ed course into a two-year programme to bring more depth to the curriculum, education experts feel it could mean nothing. "The challenges a teachers faces in the 21st century are different and those doing the course need to be taught modern methodologies," says P B Prince Gajendra Babu, an education activist.
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