The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation envisions schools as a site of social transformation. However, to make this transformation a reality, it is also vital to catalyse and develop the most crucial link in this transformation—the teacher. The existing teacher development and management system trains teachers as deliverers of information rather than co-constructors and facilitators of knowledge. A shift in the paradigm of learning necessitates redefining the role of teachers as facilitators who design equal-opportunity, creative environments where learning can happen. With this is in mind, the Foundation conceived the Teacher Empowerment programme in 2011.
The Teacher Empowerment programme sought to provide a robust and comprehensive framework of analysis and intervention for building the capacity of teachers and refining the teacher management system. The programme also strove to enable teachers to evolve pedagogical practices that encourage critical thinking in children, versus the pursuit of a curriculum-driven learning structure. This programme also emphasised the need for and supported teachers’ empowerment to faciliate each child’s access to learning, irrespective of caste, community, religion, gender, socioeconomic equations, regional identity, etc. As part of this programme, the Foundation supported the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) to conduct courses leading to a diploma in elementary education (D.El.Ed.). The Foundation also established the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Chair for Teacher Development and Management at the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and carried out a national study to analyse the ‘Working Conditions of Teachers’.