Teach India ProgramIn India, the press does more than report the daily happenings of the country. It establishes initiaves to steer citizens into taking action. Recognizing that the economic threats of overpopulation, the Times of India newspaper has recently published a series of articles relating to the shortfall of teachers in India.

According to the Times of India , the country face a shortage of about 800,000 primary and middle school teachers. Given India’s youthful population, the situation doesn’t look promising: 6.5% of India’s teachers retire every year; at this rate the country will be left with 350,000 primary and middle school teachers by 2011 (source: Times of India:India Faces a Drought of Teachers, July 5th 2008).

So how do we address this very serious issue that challenges a population of over 287 million illiterate people? The Times of India and over sixty Indian NGOs, corporates, schools and social organizations believe that the answer lies in the hands of educated citizens. They have recently put their heads together to launch Teach India, a social initiative from the Times of India that brings together children in need of education and people who can contribute a little time towards teaching them.

Teach India has put a call out to ordinary citizens to spend two hours a week for a minimum of three months to teach underprivileged children who are willing to learn. The initiative aims to help undereducated children through a variety of programmes, including basic education, support classes and even story-telling. It emphasizes easy to teach programmes in which simple topics are taught to primary school children either on a one-on-one or small group basis.

The good news is that Teach India has struck an instant chord: since its inception at the beginning of July, more than 10,000 people have signed up to teach a child in their neighbourhood, mostly for weekend sessions. This army of volunteers is a multi-lingual, multi-talented one drawn from diverse streams—doctors, lawyers, company executives, educationists, actors, businessmen, housewives, writers, artists, retired folk, government employees and college students.

Given the logistics of matching up teachers with students, the program is available only to those who can stay in India long enough to give a three month commitment. Alas, this is one of the times, when I wish I had the opportunity to go back home and put my skills to use. For more information you can visit www.teach.timesofindia.com.