I.N.D.I.A. TRUST UPDATES
ENGLISH FOR EMPLOYMENT


Learning English and Developing Employment Resource System

Strategic Framework And Fast Track Activity Plan

CONTENTS:
GOAL     
RATIONALE    
THE PRESENT SITUATION
POLICY FRAME  
STRATEGY  
THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR 
THE SLOW TRACK
THE ROLE OF THE L.E.A.D.E.R.S PROJECT
OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF THE INITIATIVE   

GOAL:
Short term: The enhancement within 3 years of 10,00,000 (one million) persons with job-oriented Spoken / Communicative English Skills for employment in services such as the IT related Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service industry among other service industries.

Long term: Generating the appropriate momentum for the widespread enhancement of Spoken / Communicative English language skills in the country for creating a suitable talent base for different types of industries.

RATIONALE:
Many scholars are of the view that the standard of English in India now is not substantially high. This reality, though true, was the exclusive preserve of a small urban elite that control - the political, economic and administrative institutions of the country.

The decision to make the national languages the medium of instruction in India was indeed a progressive and a modern decision, as indicated by the economic success of countries like Japan, Korea, Germany and France.

But the post internet period of development demands much more curricular space and infrastructure for English in view of its unquestioned emergence as the global medium of communication and the key to the treasure house of global knowledge and employment.

In the globalized environment of the contemporary world, English has emerged as the global language of education and trade. It is a common medium that provides educational mobility and credit transferability across the world.

A fundamental shift in employment opportunity has also occurred, whereby the State is no longer the major employer. The private sector employer, in his effort to survive in a globalized environment, is increasingly insisting on English as a basic skill for employment.

Recognising the responsibility of the non-government social sector to respond with urgency to these rapidly changing market dynamics, L.E.A.D.E.R.S. has initiated the project to strategize, plan and facilitate programmes and activities to enhance English language skills in the country.

L.E.A.D.E.R.S. directive was that a fast track programme of activities should be planned and implemented with a sense of urgency, while a parallel slower track programme should also be planned for implementation.

L.E.A.D.E.R.S. directive was also that the benefits of the planned metros should accrue not only to the relatively more developed suburban regions, but should be made accessible to all districts of the country in an equitable way.

L.E.A.D.E.R.S. would like to make a special appeal to the electronic audio-visual media and the print media of the country and to the private business sector (e.g. through their corporate social responsibility – CSR – programmes) to come forward as powerful stake-holders of this critically important national development initiative which we have launched, with a sense of commitment and national responsibility.

THE PRESENT SITUATION:
Except in the small number of fee levying private and metro schools accessed by the children of affluent families, and in an exceptionally few government schools, the quality of English teaching in the mainstream government schools (which constitute the backbone of the education system) is extremely low. Very poor quality English language product is therefore delivered to students in the schools.

There are over a million private tutoring institutes / tuition classes spread throughout the country. English classes are very popular in these totally unregulated private institutions. It becomes very convenient for the market forces to operate in the ‘tuition industry’ which is a highly lucrative field of activity. Being totally unregulated, the quality of English teaching in this sector is no better than what prevails in the schools. But in the absence of a better product, parents send their children and school drop-outs to these English classes as they link the future career of their children to their skill in English.

There is thus an immediate need for radically upgrading the English teacher base in the country, both in the government sector and in the unregulated private teaching sector.

English teaching methods that are in practice are highly outdated and state-of-the-art spoken / communicative English teaching methodologies are few – if at all – and far between. Mainstream teaching methods and course contents have evolved in a manner appropriate for teaching English to persons from homes and environments that already use English. They have been found to be largely inappropriate for teaching English to persons from Tamil (or vernacular language) speaking homes and environments – i.e. for persons living in rural environments.

Teaching materials, course contents and books for the use of students need to be urgently upgraded in the context of modern developments in the field.

Distance learning of English through IT and teacher training using IT based distance learning methods are almost totally absent except for an enhancement type non-modular programme or two of doubtful quality telecast by a few of the private TV channels in the country.

The content of the diversity of courses offered, syllabus and teaching methods are not even minimally regulated. There is a need to introduce a certification system for English communication.

POLICY FRAME:
The inalienable link between language and employment is recognized and respected. Therefore the delivery of English language skills will be designed in such a way as to serve purely as a tool of employment. In policies pertaining to language and education, primacy of importance will be placed on Tamil. English will be perceived purely and simply as an ‘Employability Skill’:

As the method of English teaching in the mainstream governmental and private educational sectors takes the form in which languages are taught to students, - for reading and not for speaking, - L.E.A.D.E.R.S. SEEKS TO BRING ABOUT A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF ENGLISH TEACHING METHODS IN THE COUNTRY. THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH THROUGH STRUCTURE, GRAMMAR AND TRANSLATION WHICH CONSTITUTES THE CURRENT MAINSTREAM APPROACH WILL BE REPLACED BY THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH THROUGH LISTENING AND TALKING TO BE FOLLOWED BY READING AND WRITING.

In our country, the new service sector employment opportunities of the past 10 years have resulted in the radical transformation of English teaching methods and course contents and the growth of a vibrant and dynamic spoken / communicative English teaching enterprise in both the governmental and private sectors of education. The L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Initiative recognizes therefore the advantage of transferring employment focused spoken / communicative English teaching methods, techniques and course contents.

The growing demand for spoken / communicative English teaching methods and courses has largely been a direct response to the needs of IT related service industries, and especially those of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) service industry that has boomed in our country.

STRATEGY:
The L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Initiative will adopt an aggressive enterprise driven approach for the attainment of its target. Its fast track will traverse the private educational sector consisting of more than a million small and medium tutoring institutes teaching English among other subjects, through business oriented technical collaboration with Education/NGOs.

The objective of the L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Strategy is to make possible the upgrading of the teaching methods, teacher skills and course contents of the private tutoring / tuition sector institutions. This can be reached through the re-training of their teachers by the Joint Enterprises and the franchising of the successful job-oriented communicative / spoken English courses developed in our country, via the Joint Enterprises to the private tutoring / tuition institutes / NGOs across the country.

In a rapidly developing country such as ours where over 80% of all households have TV, television offers itself as a very viable and powerful mode of ‘distance learning’. Therefore the L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Initiative will create the necessary environment for the country’s television networks – especially those with wide network coverage – to produce and telecast modular type audio-visual spoken English distance learning programmes as a ‘fast track’ teaching activity. Supporting print material could be hosted on the Web and /or produced in the form of Work Books, while a panel of ‘Mentors’ attached to a programme could be consulted by learners on the telephone on stipulated days during certain fixed hours. At present, distance learning of English through TV is almost totally absent in the country, except for a programme or two (in terms of new teaching methods and course contents currently used in our country) telecast from time to time by a couple of the private TV channels in the country.

The transformation of the English language teaching methods and course contents in the governmental sector will traverse a ‘slower track’. Although the royal route to the renaissance of spoken English lies in a planned development of curriculum, infrastructure and teachers by the Ministries of Education and Higher Education which control the mainstream of educational institutions in the country, it is not realistic to expect the State institutions to move ahead in an innovative manner with a fast track programme due to institutional, administrative and financial constraints.

Once established L.E.A.D.E.R.S. will develop the syllabus and course material and conduct examinations for the Certification of spoken / communicative English language skills of Users: The examination will test 4 user skills at 3 levels – elementary, intermediate and advanced, as the level of English proficiency required by clients varies according to the kind of employment / career to which they aspire. Thus, candidates could realistically decide the level at which they seek certification in different skills. The 4 skills that will be tested and certified are those of Listening, Talking, Reading and Writing.

As the L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Initiative gathers momentum, it is planned to obtain the cooperation of Publishers of books for English learners to publish some books for the market suitably adapted on the basis of the advice of expert groups. This will be the fastest, least costly and culturally most appropriate strategy for enriching the supportive reading material for English teaching programmes.

Parallel with the expected progress of the enhancement of spoken / communicative English skills, the L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Initiative will facilitate the corporate sector to provide employment to the growing communicative / spoken English skills that will be progressively made available through the Initiative.

Where the long term objective of the Initiative is concerned, the fast-track activities and the activities that will proceed along a slower track together with many other activities unplanned at present will contribute towards generating the appropriate momentum for the widespread enhancement of communicative / spoken English language skills in the country.

THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR:
The immediate beneficiary of our successful Initiative to enhance spoken / communicative English skills across the country will be, indeed, the private business sector. Therefore we invite this sector in particular and the profit-oriented government enterprises as well to commit themselves as major stake-holders of the Initiative.

As the success of the Initiative could lead to a major transformation of the employment environment in the country, we are contacting, both directly and through institutions such as the Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and NGOs, with several private companies and assured ourselves of very strong support for the Initiative from the business sector.

THE SLOW TRACK:
Along the trajectory of a slower track, we will have to facilitate and motivate the national organisations to launch a massive effort to re-train teachers to deliver spoken / communicative English skills to their students. There are many successful models. One of them is the Open English Learning Teaching programme can enable hundreds of thousands of teachers to undergo training in English and will serve to reverse the traditional grammar and translation oriented English teaching methodology to a new formula that approaches the language through the communication of listening and speaking skills followed by reading skills followed by writing skills.

This effort will require careful planning including the motivation of English teachers and learners to improve their skills such as through the offer of social incentives. This will have to be a slower track initiative enjoying the facilitation of the NGO sector. But to successfully surmount the massive hurdles of creating new training structures, improving the English language training infrastructure across the country, motivating school teachers to improve their skills, obtaining the fullest cooperation of the Educational sector, mobilizing the funding resources for a venture of this magnitude etc, this may have to be a separate National Initiative of its own.

THE ROLE OF L.E.A.D.E.R.S PROJECT:
The L.E.A.D.E.R.S project is not an institution but a rolling process which strategies, activities and programmes continuously evolve in response to experiences, problems and opportunities, and through periodic discussion.

The L.E.A.D.E.R.S project will function as an Enabler, a Facilitator and a Motivator of the stake-holders of the Initiative. It will encourage the stake-holders to learn from any source and to look at a range of teaching systems and materials. Its focus will be to ‘keep doors open’, to encourage diversity and innovation and to enable ‘a million flowers to bloom’ in the fields of teaching methods, course contents, learning modes and supportive publications that help take ‘English as a Resource for Employment’ to our people.

It will support and motivate the stake-holders towards reaching the short term goal of enhancing 10,00,000 persons with job-oriented spoken / communicative English language skills in 3 years for employment in the BPO and other service industries, and the longer term objective of generating the necessary momentum for a widespread enhancement of communicative / spoken English skills in our country.

OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF THE INITIATIVE:
While a launch of this nature will provide the potential learners a perspective of a job market that could well be available to them, it will also set in motion a linkage between the Potential Supply of skills (as represented by the learners of communicative / spoken English skills) and the Potential Demand for skills.