RSTV – The Big Picture: Education Reforms

Guests:

Jyoti Gupta, Principal, DPS Ghaziabad ;

Prof. Manisha Priyam, Academic ;

Anita Rampal, Professor, Department of Education, Delhi University

The Government of India is bringing out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research with an objective of making India a knowledge superpower 

 Measures to achieve the objective

  • By outfitting the graduates with the vital aptitudes and learning
  • By dispensing with the deficiency of labor in science, innovation, scholastics and industry

 Keypoints

The great demographic dividend of India without much of a transformation turn into a revile if throughout the following decade the training framework isn’t updated totally to change from input-based framework to result driven education model that lifts basic reasoning and not repetition learning.

To tap the demographic dividend the focus shall be on

  • Girls Education
  • Strengthening Public establishments with a push on conventional information
  • Special consideration of dialects, sports, science at the primary level of education
  • Addressing local disparity
  • Affordability and Access to the education

Facts assessed by various committees and organizations

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by the NGO, Pratham, and the NCERT’s National Achievement Survey have demonstrated that

  • There is a decrease in taking in levels from lower to higher evaluations, even as the nation has been creeping nearer to accomplishing the Right to Education Act’s target of general enlistment for six to 14-year olds.
  • More than 25 percent of the young in the age gathering of 14 to 18 can’t read an essential content fluidly — however more than 90 percent of them were in school.
  • As per a report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), around 74 nations confront grave lack of instructors, with India being second on the rundown.
  • ASSOCHAM, in a report a year ago, finds that the lack of teachers is an issue that is inescapable at all levels of government schools in India, with 50 for each penny opening in schools crosswise over India close to 30,000 opportunities for instructors in Haryana alone where in excess of 800 schools are being kept running without principals.
  • Among 36 States and Union Territories, Jharkhand has the most intense auxiliary teacher deficiency at 70 percent. Half of all auxiliary teacher posts in Uttar Pradesh are empty, just like a third in Bihar and Gujarat.

 Major problems haunting education sector

  1. Low literacy rate
  2. Lack of sufficient investment
  3. Literacy gap between male and female, rural and urban, rich and poor etc
  4. Negligence of rural sector
  5. Low enrolment ratio
  6. Drop-outs
  7. Poverty and Child labor
  8. Household Decisions, School Quality and Village Factors

To provide equal, effective and quality education to every children of the country and to achieve 100 percent enrolment with zero percentage drop-out and to battle against the factors which are accountable for the low enrolment and high drop- out rates the Central Government of India implements different kind of policies and schemes on education sector. Some important Act, schemes, and policies are as follows:

  • National Programme of Mid-day Meals in Schools– Centrally Sponsored Scheme Launched in 15th August 1995 with a view to enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children.97
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 became operational in the country on 1 April 2010. The Constitution of India guarantees the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education to every children of the country without any discrimination of sex, religion, and caste under Article 21A.
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) – It was launched in March 2009 with the objectives of enhancing access to secondary education and improving its quality.
  • Model Schools Scheme– it was launched in November 2008 with the objectives of providing quality education to talented rural children by setting up of 6000 high quality model schools as a benchmark of excellence at block level at the rate of one school per block.”
  • Saakshar Bharat (SB) – Launched on 8th September 2009 by Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, which is mainly focus on female literacy. It has been included as one of the Flagship Programmes.
  • Jan Shikhshan Sanasthans (JSSs) – This programme provide vocational training to non-literates, neo-literates, as well as school drop-outs by identifying skills. In the selection of beneficiaries, priority is given to women, SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, and other economically weaker section.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abiyan (SSA) – Launched in 2001 with the goal of i) All 6-14 age children in school/EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) centre/ Bridge course by 2005, ii) Bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary level by 2010, iii) Universal retention by 2010 and iv) Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life. The SSA especially focuses on girls (SCs and STs) and children of weaker section.
  • National Programme for education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) – This Scheme is a holistic effort to address obstacles to girls’ education at micro level through flexible, decentralized processes and decision-making.
  • ASMITA (All School Monitoring Individual Tracing Analysis)

Objective: To track the educational journey of close to 25 crore school students from Class I to Class XII across the 15 lakhs private and government schools

Launched under Shala Asmita Yojana (SAY).

ASMITA will be an online database which will carry information of student attendance and enrolment,learning outcomes, mid-day meal service and infrastructural facilities among others.

Students will be tracked through their Aadhaar numbers

  • No Detention Policy

The right to education act provides the guarantee of uninterrupted schooling under sections 16 and 30(1) is founded on the no-detention policy until Class 8 to check the high number of dropouts but recently government scrapped this policy.

Prime reason behind the move was Deteriorating Educations standards.

According to the “Annual Status of Education Report” (Aser), less than 48% of children in class V can read a class II-level textbook

Only 43.2% of class VIII students in rural India can do simple divisions

Only one out of every four students in class V could read an English sentence

Groups supporting annulling the policy have contended that involuntarily promoting all students to the next class leaves very little motivation for students to learn and teachers to teach well. When students are aware that they won’t be held back for their academic credits or low attendance, it builds very little enthusiasm. Ultimate result is that the learning interest of the other students who want to study further turns to be demotivated or diverted. Teachers also evade interest as well and the overall quality of education imparted suffers.

Is it only the no-detention policy which has been responsible for the deteriorating quality?

As per some experts, the argument, that because of the no-detention policy, learning levels have gone down, may appear far-fetched because of the following reasons:

Firstly, learning level is determined by several factors—teaching practices, teacher quality, availability of books, socio-economic background of children, school environment, etc. To isolate one factor, policy of no-detention, as a sole determinant of lowering of learning levels is neither plausible nor justifiable.

Secondly, implicit in that argument is that children study only because of the fear of being detained. This is a serious charge and hits at the very bottom of the entire process and philosophy of school education.

Thirdly, the no detention policy cannot be viewed in isolation but has to be looked at in conjunction with other provisions of the Act. The provisions of having an evaluation process which is continuous and comprehensive, having a class environment which is free from fear, trauma and anxiety, that there is no physical punishment or mental harassment of a child, ensuring that teachers perform their duty, including the requirement of transacting the curriculum as per schedule and in accordance with the laid down procedure, and assessing the ability of each child and providing additional instructions. All these are important determinants of quality education and improving learning levels. Gunning the no-detention policy is an alibi for sub-par teacher performance and classroom practices.

So, is there merit for revoking the no-detention policy or can there be a more moderate mid-way path?

There is significant merit to a no-detention policy at the primary school level and especially till class 5. Learning focused on building key foundational blocks, this can help children develop an interest in learning and encourage them to study further without fear of failure or assessments. Combined with the Mid-Day Meal scheme, this allows children to get nutritious food and also learn, thus increasing the probability of having them attend school.

The middle school levels of class 6 to class 8 are the most critical. This is a stage where a strong knowledge block, if built, can help a child stay through the entire learning life cycle and also develop skills which are very important for a sustainable livelihood. It is proposed that some form of evaluation is introduced in these classes.

However, unlike a summative assessment which is binary and turns up as pass or fail, the evaluation must allow credit points to be given for academic performance and school attendance. (In the no-detention policy, students without attending a single day of class can still be promoted). Evaluations done periodically, these points can be accumulated and carried forward, much like a deposit in a piggy bank.

These evaluations must focus on language (say, reading in mother tongue), numerical skills and one key vocational skill. Students need to collect credits in at least two of these critical learning areas before being promoted to the next class. This can help bring in some sense of seriousness in the class. Students now know that they won’t be automatically promoted. Executed well, this can ensure every child from class 6 to class 8 is trained on at least one vocational skill.

Such a method where students get to collect learning credit points will help integrate vocational education seamlessly into school education. It will also help students who want to pursue higher diploma in vocational skills to monetise the points for waivers in fee, learning subjects, etc. Students who drop out and are unable to complete education can use vocational skills to commence livelihood activities.

T S R Subramanium Committee

Government of India lately constituted a committee to review the positives and negatives of the sector under the chairmanship of T S R Subramanium.

  1. An Indian Education Service (IES) should be founded as an all India service with officers being on permanent settlement to the state governments but with the cadre controlling authority vesting with the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.
  2. The outlay on education should be raised to at least 6% of GDP without further loss of time.
  3. There should be minimum eligibility condition with 50% marks at graduate level for entry to existing B.Ed courses. Teacher Entrance Tests (TET) should be made compulsory for recruitment of all teachers. The Centre and states should jointly lay down norms and standards for TET.
  4. Compulsory licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools should be made mandatory, with provision for renewal every 10 years based on independent external testing.
  5. Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years should be declared as a right and a programme for it implemented immediately.
  6. The no detention policy must be continued for young children until completion of class V when the child will be 11 years old. At the upper primary stage, the system of detention shall be restored subject to the provision of remedial coaching and at least two extra chances being offered to prove his capability to move to a higher class
  7. On-demand board exams should be introduced to offer flexibility and reduce year end stress of students and parents. A National Level Test open to every student who has completed class XII from any School Board should be designed.
  8. The mid-day meal (MDM) program should now be extended to cover students of secondary schools. This is necessary as levels of malnutrition and anaemia continue to be high among adolescents.
  9. UGC Act must be allowed to lapse once a separate law is created for the management of higher education. The University Grants Commission (UGC) needs to be made leaner and thinner and given the role of disbursal of scholarships and fellowships.
  10. Top 200 foreign universities should be allowed to open campuses in India and give the same degree which is acceptable in the home country of the said university.

The investment in education sector is a long-term investment, which shows the development of country in various forms like development of Information Technology sector, shifting of occupation, and development of living standard. The overall development of country depends on standard of education development. Education holds the key for political, social, cultural, and economic development and national integration in underdeveloped countries. Therefore, the importance of education and human investment and their role in economic development must not be neglect.

 

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