The second edition of EduStar Awards that prides itself as being the only award constituted ‘For the Teachers, By the Teachers’ took place on 14 September 2019 at the Mumbai’s Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers that houses the iconic 144 year old Bombay Stock Exchange, the country’s largest securities market in India with over 6000 listed stocks. While the EduStar awards acknowledged 36 innovative school teachers, top three educators were awarded trophies for excellence in education.
The awards are an initiative of TeachersHelpTeachers (THT, estb.2017), a social enterprise in education with an impact that provides curated educational resource material through its open source web portal platform and Facebook page.
In 2015, driven by the desire to empower, enable and connect teachers to facilitate continuous knowledge upgrades to bring about positive changes into Indian school education, Rakhee Chhabria, founder, Teachers Help Teachers created a THT group on Facebook. Two years later in 2017, THT launched its website which continues to present curated teaching-learning content such as lesson plans, presentations, research papers etc. In 2017 itself, THT also began conducting offline paid teachers’ workshops. Thus far, 2,700 teachers have participated in THT workshops.
“THT does not charge educators any nominee fee owing to our emphasis on social impact and change that needs to be seen in the education system. Owing to this we are able to reach out to the rural areas and identify the educators who are fighting against all odds and yet making a difference in their own way. EduStar truly celebrates the contribution of such educators who believe in themselves and inspire others to bring about a change. However, EduStar is not merely an award, but a responsibility given to a teacher to mentor and share their best teaching practices on our online portal, thus promoting collaborative learning among Educators,” says Chhabria.
The awards were a culmination of a three-month long progression which had 224 teachers from across the country nominate themselves for the THT EduStar Award 2019 in various academic and non-academic categories. This year, the THT team created another five special categories – educational leader of the year, excellence in early years, excellence in STEAM (subjects), innovative educator and unsung hero to honour other crucial stakeholders like school principals in the education field apart from subject teachers. Contenders were judged on the basis of their teaching skills, ability to involve students in the learning process, their use of teaching aids, creativity and innovation bought to the learning teaching process.
All 224 participating nominees filled up an exhaustive online form on THT’s online portal and uploaded their preparatory lesson plans and teaching resources. 85 shortlisted nominees were then asked to upload videos showcasing their actual classroom teachings, give video interviews and make presentations to THT’s core team in four rigorous elimination rounds that took place before the event itself. Of the 25 finalists selected for the academic and non-academic categories, the jury selected 10 educators who then contended for the top three educator’s trophies after a question and answer round hosted by Avinash Jhangiani, design thinker and member of THT’s advisory board. Another 11 educators were selected for the special category awards based on their proactive contribution in the field of education.
As part of their winnings, the top three EduStar winners of this year – Shubhra Irani of the JBCN International School, Mumbai, Viral Vasani of the Chatrabhuj Narsee School, Mumbai and Nirupama Kaushik of the Somaiya School, will have access to two paid-for professional development courses (Ted-X, and Jehan Maneckshaw’s short-term drama course). The winners are expected to support the online teaching community by sharing their expertise, teaching videos and content through THT’s open source web portal which acts as a platform for educators looking to source teaching content.
The six-member jury comprising of luminaries such as Dr Coomi Vevaina, Head of Department of English at Mumbai University, Dr Amitabh Mohan, Founder- Human Learning System India, Dr Dhirendra Mishra, Director, Life Educare, Dr Sujatha Bhan, Head at Department of Special Education SNDT, Mumbai Dr. K R Malaathi, CEO of Auuro Educational Services and Sapna Sukul, Advisor on special education.
The high on energy action-packed awards function not only had music and dance performances by participating teachers and supporting partners but also included talks by a few programme launches with a view to helping educators understand the change and the latest trends in the field of education.
Fatima Agarkar of KA Edu Associates digitally launched the Teachers at Play (TAP) Retreat programme in association with THT. The two-day retreat will focus on developing soft skills as well as leadership qualities amongst teachers. Theatre professional founder Jehan Maneckshaw also launched a short term (two month) course focusing on the use of drama in learning across subjects. Enthusiasm reigned supreme as keynote speaker Dr Indu Shahani spoke about the need for Upskilling in the field of education and Divesh Bhatija, founder, Dinasim Learning fascinated the audience with the journey of his Unmath School concept focusing on teaching mathematics through the use of games.
Attended by 150 educators and a veritable who’s who from the Education fraternity, the guest list included Bhavin Shah, CEO, EducationWorld, Ajit Balan, head-sales and distribution, The Hindu, Farzana Dohadwala, director, MSB Educational Institute, Debika Chatterjee, principal, JBCN international school, Merzeen Doctor, principal, Chatrabhuj Narsee school and social evangelist, Nabomita Majumdar. Other guests represented event partners for the awards – Clap Global, Star child, Policy Boss, Microsoft in school, Divine touch and Inspirus Education.
Among the special categories Dr Jaya Parekh and Dr Padmaja Kutty were named ‘Education Leaders of the year’, Shailaja Madhunair and Shubra Irani were handed the ‘Excellence in ECE’ awards, Mahesh M.B and Valmik Chauhan were named ‘Innovative Educators’, Richa Kumar and Shivaji Mane received the ‘Excellence in STEAM’ award while Rakesh Khuswaha, Asma Zaidi and Lavanya Lokesh received the ‘Unsung Heros’ award for their dedicated knowledge and expertise.
THT empowers teachers to help each other to upgrade their skills and knowledge, and hopes to change the Indian K-12 education sharply improving students’ learning outcomes countrywide. EduStar awards not only celebrate teachers who are pioneering best practices against all odds but also pave the way for teachers to showcase their expertise and inspire other educators to reach for higher aspirations.
The EduStar awards and the enthusiastic response it received was truly a testimony to the spirit of Indian innovation and excellence in the field of education.
Also read: THT innovator: Rakhee Chhabria