Letter from the Editorne of the most glaring injustices of the national development model fashioned by post-independence IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Soviet-inspired central planners, is the poor status of teachers in Indian society. Although itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s de rigeuer for politicians and people to pay lip service to the marvellous nation-building role of teachers on rare occasions such as TeachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Day, in terms of pay and perquisites, the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 5 million-plus teachers come way down the social pecking order. Indeed itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s scarcely an exaggeration that the grave responsibility Ã¢â‚¬â€ to mould and equip the contemporary worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest child population (450 million) for the challenges of the new global order of the 21st century Ã¢â‚¬â€ resting on the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teaching community is in inverse proportion to its social status.
However right from the day the first issue of EducationWorld was launched over eight years ago, we have rigorously advocated better pay and conditions for the teaching community engaged in the top priority task of educating generation next. Therefore acknowledging and felicitating the best among the minority of unsung teachers around the country who are improving and innovating classroom practices to prepare children for the unprecedented challenges of the 21st century, was high on our agenda.
Unfortunately as a new animal in the national park, this pioneer publication suffered several initial lean years and was obliged to knock on numerous unyielding corporate doors before drawing a favourable response from Fakir Chand Kohli and S. Ramadorai, vice-chairman and managing director of the Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, a genuine knowledge company which appreciates the vital importance of well-developed human resources for business success. Thus three years ago in 2005, the annual TCS-EW Teachers Awards were instituted with generous sponsorship by TCS, and co-sponsorship and cooperation of IL&FS Education Technology Services (IETS), the school education and training subsidiary of the Mumbai-based construction and finance giant IL&FS.
From modest beginnings, the annual TCS-EW Teachers Awards have attracted incremental attention from teachers and educators across the country. Last year over 20,000 primary and secondary school teachers were nominated Ã¢â‚¬â€ by teachers, parents, principals and educators Ã¢â‚¬â€ for the awards. An IETS team led by Bangalore-based educationist Neena Paul short-listed eight finalists who were interviewed, felicitated and rewarded for their outstanding classroom innovations in Chennai on January 9. An EW team led by assistant editor Summiya Yasmeen interviewed the winners and finalists of the TCS-EW Teachers Awards 2007. Their profiles and inspiring stories are the subject matter of this monthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cover story.
And in our first-of-its-type second lead feature, Kolkata-based special correspondent Minu Dasgupta assesses the impact of 30 years of uninterrupted Marxist rule in West Bengal on the eastern stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s education system. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s less than inspiring.