Rewarding teaching careers are crucial for quality education

–As seen from the experience of this social enterprise Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA)

CENTA is an organization that stands for quality in teaching, holistic education and professional growth of teachers. Its initiatives – the CENTA Standards, CENTA Certification and the Teaching Professionals remind us of good practices in teaching, broadening our thinking towards professional and skill development,” says Minhaj Arastu, Principal of Focus High School in Hyderabad.

Arastu is among several school leaders in India who are using the objective assessment of teaching competencies by Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA) as a key indicator to measure quality and effectiveness of teaching in the classroom.

Towards a market-driven change

Where few in India have entered before, CENTA has not only made a foray but quickly established itself – with its market-driven model of teacher accreditation. CENTA’s approach which is rooted in the conviction that the most important determinant for improving education is positive recognition, rewards and opportunities for teachers, is set to change the face of teacher certification.

This conviction was fuelled to a large extent by the findings of a 2014 survey, where an overwhelming 95% of school principals interviewed expressed eagerness in creating incentives and opportunities for their outstanding teachers, while a vast majority of teachers interviewed responded that they were keen to see merit-based career opportunities, financial rewards and public recognition, beyond the mandated increase in salaries.

Since December 2014, CENTA has been gradually but effectively working to catalyse teacher professional development through a certification of competencies rooted in high standards and aligned with market needs. Such a market-driven certification addresses the three pillars of any profession – standards, opportunities and aligned professional development. Here’s how it works.

CENTA’s theory of change

The adherence to teaching standards that have high quality education at their core makes CENTA’s Certification the benchmark of excellence for school teachers. The aspiration to meet this benchmark motivates the teacher to take full ownership of his/her professional development and effectiveness in the classroom. At the same time, the Certification becomes a marker for institutions to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and for teacher training entities to see ‘market demand’ and align their services to it – thereby fuelling the ‘aspiration’.

A market-driven certification like CENTA is compelled to be aligned with on-the-ground requirements for its survival, as opposed to a mandatory model, and therefore has the power of creating this virtuous cycle of excellence leading to opportunities, that lead to more focus on professional development, that leading to excellence in turn.

In the long run, this catalytic phenomenon can significantly contribute to teaching being a more celebrated and preferred profession, where increase in opportunities and recognition and greater professionalism attract more people with the right skills, attitudes and passion to embrace it.

CENTA Standards

The CENTA Certification is based on the CENTA Standards, a well-defined set of competencies for teachers at different stages of their careers. Developed through a rigorous process, the CENTA Standards cover Competencies, including ones specific to teaching profession, fundamental competencies of an individual and professional competencies, and Mindsets that include attitudes and beliefs. The Standards is updated regularly based on inputs from experts and stakeholders and data from the ground, keeping it relevant amidst evolving needs and requirements.

CENTA Certification & Micro-Credentials

The CENTA Certification comprises of five Micro-Credentials, each addressing a different aspect of teaching, namely subject expertise, classroom communication, content development, student assessment and professional competencies. The CENTA Micro-Credentials can be earned independently or together (which earns the candidate the CENTA Certification). The assessments involve a mix of objective test and practical submissions that can be done entirely online. CENTA Certification and Micro-Credentials are relevant for full-time teachers, supplementary and voluntary teachers and aspiring teachers such as BEd students and professional fellows in Education.

CENTA TPO 2017 winners felicitated at Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai, by Professor Oong Seng Tan, Director of National Institute of Education Singapore (sixth from right) with CENTA CEO, Ramya Venkataraman (first from left)
CENTA TPO 2017 winners felicitated at Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai,
by Professor Oong Seng Tan, Director of National Institute of Education Singapore (sixth
from right) with CENTA CEO, Ramya Venkataraman (first from left)

CENTA Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad (TPO)

With a sweeping response every year from teaching professionals across the country, CENTA’s flagship event, Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad (TPO) is all set for a fourth edition on December 8, 2018. A unique national competition for teachers, TPO follows a multiple-choice objective test format which covers a part of the assessment under CENTA Certification. Since 2015, participation in the TPO has grown to teachers representing 5000+ schools and institutions from over 2000 cities, towns and villages in India and in UAE. CENTA partners in the TPO journey include The Hindu, Dell, Oxford University Press, Varkey Foundation, Central Square Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, HT Parekh Foundation (An HDFC Initiative), HCL, Kaizen PE, IL&FS Education and EdelGive Foundation.

Akin to the CENTA Certification, the TPO has established itself as a platform for teachers to selfassess and test their skills albeit at a national level.

CENTA’s wheel of change has already started to turn, with growing number of opportunities manifesting in different areas including recruitment, better placements and promotions, supplemental roles such as content creation, selection for high quality training programs, and national and international level recognition for CENTA Certified teachers and TPO winners.

Multiple schools and school groups across India and UAE are giving weightage to CENTA Certified teachers and CENTA TPO winners in their recruitment and promotions. Some examples include GEMS Education in UAE, The Podar International Schools, Lodha World School, The Global Indian International School, GEMS International School in India and Abhiyan Bharat Foundation. Besides teaching positions, CENTA Certified teachers get access to a range of supplementary opportunities. For example, Praxis Global Alliance and Central Square Foundation are hiring pedagogical experts among CENTA Certified teachers/TPO winners to create a high-quality curriculum aligned videos resources.

Impact in numbers: CENTA has grown as a community of over 30,000 teaching professionals representing over 2000 cities, towns and villages across 31 States and Union Territories in India and in UAE.

Government recognition: While the CENTA Standards have been appreciated by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, NITI Aayog and other government institutions, CENTA TPO has received the support of multiple state governments including Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Global recognition: In 2017, CENTA was named a ‘Top 60 Social Enterprise in Asia’ by Development Bank of Singapore and National University of Singapore. CENTA is part of the Global Alliance on Teachers, alongside Harvard Graduate School of Education, National Institute of Education Singapore and University of Helsinki Finland.

For more info, visit www.centa.org