Malappuram goes to London to get govt school English teachers


It was in 1990 that Malappuram, the district with the highest number of Muslims in the country after Murshidabad in West Bengal, decided to turn its fortunes around with education. Census 2011 put the literacy figures for the district at 93.55 per cent; this March, it registered 88.55 pass percentage in Class X exams. Now this Kerala district has gone one step further, flying down native Britons to teach the English language to its next generation of students.

Four of them have joined as special English teachers at the Government Vocational Higher Secondary School at Nilambur, under 'Sadgamaya', a project jointly implemented by the Education Department and the Nilambur municipal body, with UNICEF association. Two more will fly down from the UK next month to teach English to students of Classes VIII and IX till February end.

The teachers were selected through an interview held in London, that weaned out anyone not a natural Briton (to avoid varying accents). They underwent a brief workshop before taking up the assignment.

Nilambur municipal chairman Aryadan Shoukkathu, an award-winning film producer and a Congress leader, says it is perhaps the first time in the state that teachers from Britain have been brought to teach English.

General Education Secretary M Shivashanker said they placed an advertisement in a leading travel magazine in the UK to attract the teachers, a clever idea considering Kerala's popularity as a tourist destination.

The idea was to attract professionals who take a break from work to travel and were interested in spending their vacations contributing to society. "Some of the teachers' training institutes in the UK which I had visited were ready to provide more people in this manner," says Shivashanker.

"The advertisement, which demanded teaching experience from the applicants, evoked 200-odd expressions of interest. To get English teachers from Britain who could teach a correct and uniform accent, we avoided applications from German and French citizens living in the UK. The six teachers were selected after interviewing 10 shortlisted applicants."

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