“Teaching can bring local communities and global opportunities together in a way that no other profession can” – Ramya Venkataraman, CEO and Founder, CENTA

  1. Could you provide an overview of CENTA’s core services and how they address the needs of teachers and educators?

CENTA is the world’s largest platform for Teachers working with over 1.5 million teachers, certifying them, supporting their upskilling and connecting them to career growth and earnings opportunities. CENTA has a presence across 7000 locations nationally, 141 countries globally and over 1,00,000+ schools as part of its online community (also on playstore & app store).

CENTA is solving three core issues-

  1. Career growth for teachers by connecting competent teachers to opportunities & financial rewards.
  2. Demand for training & upskilling through CENTA’s own courses as well as CENTA-accredited courses by reputed partners like Oxford University Press & Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) as well as a range of teacher educators from across the world.
  3. Assessing Teacher competency through CENTA certification, a widely accepted currency across all stakeholders including schools, ed-techs & governments

Our vision is to ‘make teaching aspirational’ through better career prospects. This leads to a virtuous cycle where teachers are motivated to improve their competencies and aspiring teachers see this as a valid career option – fundamentally improving the quality of education.

2. What inspired the establishment of CENTA, and what are the primary mission and objectives that drive your organisation’s efforts in the field of teacher training and education development?

Before establishing CENTA in 2014, I worked at McKinsey & Company for over 15 years, was part of the India leadership and built the firm’s Education Practice in the last five years of that. In the course of my work, I found that while as a country and society, we keep saying that teachers need to improve by taking up training, technology, pedagogical innovations, etc., we never answer a fundamental question – what is in it for the teacher? That is, how will their own career, financial rewards, recognition, etc. grow as a result of improving themselves? A question that is considered normal in other professions!  Creating professional value for teachers themselves is a principle that now guides CENTA’s mission to transform the global teaching landscape.

Since its inception, CENTA has expanded its reach to support over 1.5M+ teachers across careers, assessment & training, thus addressing their needs across the professional lifecycle  with the objective to-

  • Enable high growth career trajectory for great teachers through diverse career opportunities, financial rewards & global recognition, thus incentivizing teachers to invest in their own learning
  • Certify teachers based on reliable, valid & inclusive assessments based on internationally benchmarked teacher competency standards
  • Facilitate professional development of teachers through peer- to-peer learning and making accessible high quality resources by CENTA as well as other CENTA accredited courses by leading institutes.

3. As a leader in the teacher training and accreditation sector, what is your perspective on the current state of the industry, and how do you see it evolving in the coming years?

Certification & accreditation are a means of establishing standards of high quality in any industry. Just as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has become a well accepted certification of high quality for the food industry, we believe there is a significant demand to establish standards to certify teachers. A certification is a signal to all stakeholders in an ecosystem that a particular individual is meeting the profession-wide standards.  This need is becoming particularly crucial in light of the projected global teacher shortage, expected to reach 44 million by 2030 at a macro level, with the micro-level shortages being many times that, once you factor in quality as well as location-subject combinations.

CENTA, a leader in the teacher training and accreditation sector, is well-positioned to play a pivotal role in meeting this challenge by facilitating the professional growth of teachers, including global mobility. CENTA’s accreditation arm features the CENTA Teaching Quotient (TQ), a globally benchmarked assessment certifying exceptional teachers and unlocking doors to advanced certifications and diverse career opportunities across the globe. The CENTA TQ , in summary, serves as a valuable currency for recruiters globally, providing a reliable and objective means to identify and hire exceptional teachers.

As the teacher training and accreditation sector evolves rapidly, numerous opportunities emerge for educators. Both government/private schools and individual establishments offer diverse teaching roles.

Governments increasingly acknowledge the merit in teaching, with some states employing certification tests to reward and advance teachers. Teaching is acquiring a global dimension, and Indian educators play a crucial role in addressing shortages particularly in STEM fields. We facilitate teacher certification, international job placement, and access to global professional development opportunities, contributing to the broader landscape of education.

4. Can you share how CENTA’s partnerships with the state government entities have contributed to teachers’ professional development and education system improvement?

As the pioneering teacher competency framework in India, CENTA Standards were the precursor to the National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST)  and have deeply fed into the development of NPST  (2021-22), under India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. As a member of the core committee that drafted NPST, I was glad to see the very positive response from various experts as well as public opinions, to the principles we were proposing for NPST, many of which evolved from in-depth learnings formed while using CENTA Standards as well as inputs from various global frameworks.

CENTA was a Knowledge Partner to Niti Aayog,  the apex public policy think tank of the Government of India (2017-18), through which CENTA Standards were presented to all States of India.

CBSE has used aspects from CENTA Standards, testing and training, in multiple initiatives, including India’s preparation for PISA, reinforcing our national influence on teacher development.

Our collaborations have significantly enhanced teachers’ professional development and the education system, with partnerships extending to 16 state governments, including Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

  • The Government of Haryana passed a policy in the legislature to use the CENTA® Teaching Quotient (CENTA TQ) for selection to Government model schools.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Tamil Nadu linked CENTA TQ to various state teacher awards, promoting widespread teacher participation and recognition, exemplifying the tangible impact of CENTA’s initiatives on teachers’ professional recognition and development.
  • In each case, winning government teachers have also been part of the finals of CENTA International Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad (CENTA International TPO) – our annual international competition for teachers, which sees participation from 30 countries. For example, a government teacher from Delhi has been selected for the summer internship at California by University of California Santa Cruz, one of the partners to CENTA International TPO.

5. Could you provide an overview of CENTA’s international presence and its contributions to education in different countries?

CENTA Standards gained global recognition when presented at UNESCO’s International Teachers’ Task Force meeting in 2019, reaching over 30 countries across Africa and Asia. In the Philippines, 10% of the teacher population is represented on CENTA, mirroring a similar state in Africa. With a presence in 141 countries, CENTA has established a strong foothold in the Middle East, Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the UK. Notably, CENTA is ranked among the Top 200 Education Apps on the App Store out of a staggering 2 lakh apps. Its ‘free-of-cost’ professional platform serves teachers from 141 countries worldwide, reflecting the widespread impact of CENTA in advancing global teacher education.

Further, we partner with esteemed institutions such as the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Buckingham, delivering professional development programs and teacher training, often also as rewards for CENTA International TPO. Such collaborations aim to provide global exposure and foster partnerships, contributing to the pursuit of excellence in teaching.

Oxford University Press, Pearson, TISS, and other Indian entities as well as several individual teacher educators have affiliated their teacher professional development training modules with CENTA, ensuring quality standards.

As member of the Global Alliance on Teachers facilitated by Varkey Foundation, CENTA collaborated with esteemed institutions worldwide, including Harvard Graduate School of Education, NIE Singapore, and University of Finland, to bring out a much-acclaimed publication on teacher professional development. Our international partnerships and affiliations have extended our impact on education, offering professional development opportunities and aligning teaching standards across borders.

6. Could you share some of the significant challenges CENTA has encountered during its operations and the strategies you’ve employed to address them?

Teacher certification, especially by a private entity, was a novel concept globally. To instil confidence in stakeholders, we took several measures, the most important one being to focus strongly on CENTA International Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad from 2015 to 2019, and launching the end-to-end platform only after that. CENTA International TPO, now in its 9th year, became a simple and strong way to reach teachers as well as institutions and bring to the forefront the theme of ‘teacher recognition’, which is now widely talked about by several entities.

Today, CENTA certification garners support not only from over 1 million teachers but also from thousands of schools, several edtech companies, several governments, and international universities.

Our approach focused on direct engagement with teachers without heavy marketing expenditures.

Given the perception of teaching careers as ‘flat,’ collaboration with employers and partners became imperative. Consequently, we worked collectively to establish diverse career growth opportunities for teachers. This is now also taking shape in the form of  Teaching as a Service (TaaS) as we embrace global mobility opportunities for teachers, ensuring a transformative impact on the teaching profession.

7. Looking ahead, what are your key growth plans and objectives for CENTA in the next 12 months, and how do you envision further contributing to teacher empowerment and the quality of education, both in India and globally?

In the upcoming 12 months, CENTA strategically positions itself for global expansion, specifically emphasising both global mobility andTeaching as a Service (TaaS). Pioneering the world’s inaugural TaaS initiative, CENTA aims to provide on-demand teaching services to national and international educational institutions while supporting state and national governments. This expansion aligns with our vision to enhance global mobility for teachers, fostering cross-cultural exchanges and shaping the future of teaching with innovative, flexible solutions meeting global education sector needs.

Utilising innovative approaches like AI-driven predictive tests, our growth strategy focuses on providing accessible, high-quality professional development opportunities. This personalised learning experience contributes significantly to teachers’ ongoing development, in line with our commitment to elevate education standards.

Accrediting across various education levels, subjects, and languages, with a two-year validity, CENTA plays a crucial role in driving teacher engagement and recruitment. Beyond our immediate impact, we have also launched ‘The Future of Teaching’, a global initiative in partnership with several entities, to distil out what teaching can look like 10-15 years out and also advocate for global policies supporting comprehensive teacher development.