India's Necessary Teacher Training (NeTT) program is proving its resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

When speaking at the UN Youth Assembly in 2013, Malala Yousafzai said, "One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world." Education is critical to inspire and grow a new generation of skilled young people with a zest for life. That is why Planet Aid is proud to support the training of teachers in developing nations. The training is vital to empower young teachers to educate their students effectively and efficiently. In India, Humana People to People India (HPP India) is implementing the Necessary Teacher Training (NeTT) program, which has provided training for teachers since 2009.

The NeTT program is currently implemented in 16 government-run teacher-training institutes. The program is carried out in close partnership with the state governments of Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. The goal is to build the ability and aptitude of young, aspiring future teachers with the skills to carry out inclusive, child-centered, and life skills-based instruction. The training helps student-teachers to assume teaching positions in India's rural areas.

Teacher from India NeTT program working with children.

Like many programs and activities globally, the training of teachers was also impacted severely by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, India is one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with numbers now reaching over 32.9 million infected and 440,000 deaths by September 2021.

Despite the tremendous challenges, including the mandated closure of schools and colleges in March of 2020, HPP India was able to alter its methods so the program was able to continue training student-teachers using both online and offline modes of communication. Even in the face of the challenges presented by the pandemic, January 2021 through June 2021 was a very productive time for the NeTT program. A total of 3,266 future elementary school teachers were trained with an all-inclusive approach to teaching—both in classrooms and virtually.

Virtual training for teachers

When the educational institutions closed down due to COVID-19, the student-teachers started training exclusively in online mode. This included training via WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Meets. The student-teachers benefitted from using these applications—thus gaining a better understanding of technology-based teaching. Additionally, the information and communication technologies (ICT) based training also taught student-teachers how to manage their studies in new and innovative ways.

In response to the hard-hitting impact of COVID-19, the NeTT program also started a community-building action across all states to mobilize, counsel, and encourage community members to get vaccinated. They also assisted them in getting registered for vaccination and trained 2,092 youth from the community to help with vaccination registration.

India's NeTT program participants helping with vaccine education

A 2020 article from India Today underlines the importance of quality teacher training, stating, "We understand that merely sending our children to schools will not ensure quality learning for them. The quality of an education system relies substantially on the quality of the teachers and the principals." Likewise, the resiliency of HPP India's NeTT program continues to grow as student-teachers expand their parameters and learn the skills and pedagogy to become quality teachers. For more information about the NeTT program, visit HPP India.