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BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"There's concern about a possible brain drain from India"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 13:32 GMT
Indian teachers for UK schools
Students at a multi-cultural school
Britain's multi-cultural society excites Indian teachers
By Jill McGivering in Delhi

A British company which recruits teachers for UK schools is starting for the first time to recruit from India.


The accent may be different but I think we're equally good in teaching English to the English students

Teacher Rekha Nambiar
The move is being made possible by recent changes in UK employment law - which means foreign professionals, including teachers, can now come and work in the UK for up to four years.

So far initial assessments have been very positive - and suggest Indian teachers could soon be filling the gaps in British classrooms.

Rekha Nambiar teaches English and Geography. She's never been to the UK - but says she's attracted partly by the pay.

And she's confident about teaching English to the English.

"In India, English has always been almost like a first language," she says. "The accent may be different but I think we're equally good in teaching English to the English students."

English is widely used in India - especially in the cities.

Respect for teachers

Amanda Brownell of Initial Education Personnel is on a flying visit to interview teachers for UK schools.

She says the standard so far is impressive - but that Indian teachers could face some shocks when they go to the UK - not least a big drop in social status.

"By and large, there's a real consensus that teaching is one of the most, if not the most, honourable and important professions, to society and to the future of India. And parents are incredibly supportive of teachers and reinforce essentially what teachers are trying to do."

But highly regarded doesn't mean highly paid.

School principal Gowri Ishwaran is concerned about a possible brain drain of some of India's brightest and best teachers.


Teachers here get paid a pittance - when you look at the kind of job that they're doing

School principal Gowri Ishwaran
She says the teachers get "paid a pittance" in India compared to the responsibilities they have.

"Though the salaries in Britain are low for your local people, they're probably high for the teachers who get paid only one third of that amount here," says Ms Ishwaran.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods are also different.

Here classes of 50 or 60 children are common - and teachers often use old fashioned rote learning.

Teacher Monika Nangia is finishing a PhD comparing the two systems - and is also applying for UK jobs.

Indian students
A class in India may comprise around 60 students

She agrees the Indian system has a lot to learn from Britain - but also that exposure to foreign teachers will help British children to develop.

"Britain is a multi-cultural society. And it would be a very good idea to give their children exposure to teachers coming from various societies and contributing their bit and enriching their culture as well."

Initial Education Personnel expects to offer jobs to more than a hundred Indian teachers as a result of their interviews - and if this first group does well, more may follow.

With many UK schools starting this academic year short of staff, India could prove an unexpected answer to at least part of the problem.

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See also:

17 May 00 | South Asia
Teaching English the Indian way
25 Aug 00 | Education
Australian teachers fill UK gap
27 Oct 00 | Education
Teacher racism 'not whole story'
20 Sep 00 | Education
Primary school test results improve
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