Quality of Government Schools
 
 level of literacy and quality of learning amongst students


The first  problems in universalisation of elementary education is Enrolment. But having got enrollment during many of hte campaigns, the fundamental problem is , retention and satisfactory learning by the children in the school. 

There are so many reasons for the failure in this respect: from the lack of schools, to insufficient number of teachers, to poor attention to children and to lack of training of the teachers.

 factors that hamper effective learning
a. Inefficient and Irresponsible Teachers, inclugin insufficient number of teachers
b. Insufficient or random allocation of funds & therefore lack of schools/Infrastructure
c. Dull and boring curriculum and teaching methods, and lack of training of teachers
d. Imparting propaganda in the guise of curriculum

- Initiatives taken to improve the situation
a. Govt schemes/programmes
b. NGO Interventions


Undisciplined and unmotivated Teachers

 

The teachers need to make learning enjoyable, and pay special attention to children who have a little difficulty in maintaining the learning speed. At that impressionable stage, all that the children perceive is teachers as their role models. Shouting at the students, not teaching in an interesting manner, not involving the child in learning, sending children out of school for any reason, and all other acts of discouragement will not serve the purpose of education. Parents, on their part, must ask the child what has been learnt in the school, ask questions, meet the teachers and express interest in the learning process. The government also has a role in setting performance standards for learning and ensuring that they are adhered to. - A Learning Experience A Child's Right to Education, AZIM PREMJI, Times of India, 09/12/2000,
  [C.ELDOC.N21.09dec00toi1.pdf]

 

Though government schools are meant to work for around 200 days in a year, they invariably function for 150 days or less. Schools are closed at the drop of a hat, for local festivals, preparation for national celebrations, and other official and unofficial reasons. In the nation's capital, municipal schools were closed in honour of a local married politician, who was murdered by his mistress for paying attention to another woman! In municipal schools, where students attend the morning or afternoon shift, actual instruction time is limited to about two or three hours. Shorter academic years, taken together with shorter school days, effectively reduce the prescribed hours of instruction almost by half. An international study of teacher absence in seven low- and middle-income countries, indicated that 25% of all government primary school teachers in India were absent on a typical school day, exceeded only by Uganda (27%). 

The village school suffered the usual problems. Teachers, despite being very well paid these days, came and went when they liked and nobody could remember a single day when they were all present. This kind of capricious behaviour meant that children were lucky if they could learn to read and write at the end of their school education. TAVLEEN SINGH, Indian Express, 15/02/2004,  [C.N20.ELDOC.N20.15feb04ie2.html] ]

 

PROBE survey of schools in north India indicated that only about 50% of the activities of teachers present could be classified as teaching. Other activities include maintaining discipline, administrative work, talking to other teachers, sleeping, and getting students to massage them. Shorter academic years and school hours, absentee teachers, and poor quality teaching have had a disastrous effect on the education of most poor children attending government schools. When teachers are chronically absent, many children simply stop attending school.


Innovations, like better textbooks and better teacher training, will continue to be important and  necessary. But their contribution to significant improvement in children's learning will be limited, when so little teaching actually takes place.Is there any hope for change? The good news, for example, is that among other measures, the present government has reconstituted the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) and committed itself to significantly increasing the elementary education budget. But we must be clear that even exponentially increased funding for our non-functioning government schools will not prevent them from collapsing.  - Teach First, John Kurien, Times of India, 27/10/2004, , [C.ELDOC.N20.27oct04toi1.pdf]

 

Poor Allocation of Funds

The bonsaification of education has caused damage on many fronts. Like allocating a mere 15 per cent of what Parliament actually promised for basic education.- Bonsai Effect in Basic Education, SANJIV KAURA, 08/01/2004,  [C.ELDOC.N00.08jan04toi1.html]

 

Public spending per student should be a certain proportion of per capita GDP. This ratio in India equals that of the US at the new coalition government 20.8%. This is much higher promises to increase public than that in the UK (15.8%), spending on education from 4.1 % of GDP to 6%. However, many developing countries have achieved better results with far little spends. And there we have India's problem wasteful spending. India spends 4.1% of its GDP on education but boasts of just 65% literacy. China, on the other hand, spends only 2.2 % of GDP on education, yet has 91 % literacy. Sri Lanka and Indonesia spend only 1.3%-of GDP on education, yet have literacy rates of 92.5% and 88% respectively.. Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, Economic Times, 01/06/2004, [C.ELDOC.N20.01jun04et1.pdf]

 

The usual argument put out by all Governments, State as well as Central, is the shortage of funds for education. But look at Maharashtra's performance on this count. Although the outlay for successive years for education has increased, only a fraction of it is actually spent. The Bal Hakk Abhiyan report outlines the discrepancy between plan allocations and actual funds made available in the annual State budget for education as well as the gap between the amounts allocated and the amounts spent. For instance, in 1998, Thane district should have built 700 classrooms. Instead only 72 were built. In Akola, the target was 500. Only one classroom was built. In Washim too, only one was built although the target was 170. Every district had a huge shortfall between target and actual performance. In Chandrapur, not a single new classroom has been built since 1997. How can things improve if the deficit of physical spaces where children are supposed to learn is so enormous?

Official figures suggest that the government spends approximately Rs 1,000 per year on a school going child [Gol 1997]. In Mumbai the per student government expenditure is even higher: Rs 4,393 per year, on the basis of the education department budget. What does this money buy in terms of basic skill acquisition? A very rough estimate, based on a variety of government and other studies, suggests that, on average, four years of schooling generates learning levels worth two years across the country.. Rukmini Banerji, epw, [J.N00./eldoc/

Even funds provided by the Centre have not been utilised. For instance, Rs. 10.40 crores were sanctioned by the State Government in 1993-94 under a scheme sponsored by the Centre to buy 8,000 colour television sets for primary schools that are run by Zilla Parishads. But an audit inspection (December 1996 to October 1997) found that out of a total of 880 TV sets which were to be distributed in seven districts, 520 sets, costing Rs. 66.24 lakhs, could not be used. Here is what the report states: "The TV sets in 42 schools of Thane district were not used due to absence of electricity, 246 schools of Sindhudurg, Sangli and Ratnagiri were not in the limit of transmission, in 162 schools of Ratnagiri, Aurangabad, Raigad, Satara and Thane, the TV sets sent were defective or damaged. Further, in 70 cases in Ratnagiri and Aurangabad the sets were not used as the schools were not provided boosters." So much for audio-visual learning tools.  - Waiting to learn, Kalpana Sharma, The Hindu, /[C.ELDOC.N21.14sep01h1.pdf]

 

 

Poor Infrastructure

 

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan , Educationist and dissenting member in the Ashok Mitra Commission Sunanda Sanyal said, would fail in Bengal. A government that could  not handle formal education  would not be able to manage non-formal education, espe-cially when teachers would be  paid only Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000. Besides, the government has failed in making schools and the curriculum "attractive".  Schools without meals, toilets  and uniform and a syllabus that did not pay any attention to "area-specific needs" are  what Bengal's students have  got apart from a politicised school environment. Biswas did not deny the charges. "Amar buk bhenge  jaye" he said, explaining how  lack of finances had prevented changes.  - Kanti confesses to flaws in education policy, The Telegraph, 06/02/2005,  [C.ELDOC.N20.06feb05tel1.pdf]

 

 

Multi-level classes 

 

Multi-level teaching affects the quality of education imparted, even further...

“I am not a full teacher, I am only a shiksha bandhu". It is the task of this "tenth-pass-from-open school", Bhagwat Singh, to corral Uba Paan's variously aged children into a single class in a school with no building, and teach "all subjects", from Class I to V.  Singh orders his wards to drag in two rickety chairs and a greying scrap of wood, his blackboard. And Uba Paan's Rajiv Gandhi Swam Jayanti Pathshala is on. Only a few of the 33 children enrolled in Bhagwat Singh's roster were actually present, though. Fewer still could write their names. And though he is supposed to teach English to Class V, their teacher confessed he couldn't write all his students' names in English...- No Schools for them, Soma Wadhwa, Grassroot Development, 01/04/2004, [C.ELDOC.N21.01apr04GRD14.pdf]

 

 

THE officials handling Maharashtra’s ambitious Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan for universal primary enrolment could do with a sunny hike across the vast, dry fields of Sangli on the Karnataka border. They will meet young Pramila Kamble, panting hard, as she shuffles between rows of students of Class I-IV crammed in a 10 ft by 10 ft free room in the home of farmer and tempo driver, Vishnu Bindale at Arag village. His ageing mother cooks the compulsory mid-day meal of 100 gm rice per child in the family kitchen. ‘‘No big deal,’’ grins Vishnu.

 

 Here, Pramila has a nameplate to prove a BA degree can go places. ‘‘I pretend I’m teaching one class, not four at a time,’’ she says. When Class I is told to be quiet and draw, Pramila pays attention to alphabets for Class II. But restless Class IV left alone with sums, musters up a noisy pitch. Class III stares blankly, waiting for their turn with teacher. Is that quality education? New one-teacher schools have not been sanctioned in Maharashtra since several years. But an exception are vastishala or community schools started in homes or just anywhere free so that kids don’t have to walk miles to schools far away.

 

... On a rugged hill in Landgewadi, 51-year-old Basling Khot scrambles between Class I, II and IV. He’s crammed three classes in one room. ‘‘I do get tired. A second teacher is sanctioned, but not appointed,’’ says Khot. Though new single-teacher schools are not permitted, Sangli has an ancient cluster of 33 one-teacher schools dotting its countryside. -  Room with a school, Reshma Patil, Indian Express, 07/12/2003,[C.ELDOC.N20.07dec03ie1.html]

 

Even more worrying is that even when teachers do come to school, the average teaching time for each group of children in a multigrade situation could be as low as 25 minutes a day! Teachers – who do want to teach and those on contract who have to teach realise that they not only manage different grades in one classroom but have to deal with tremendous diversity inside the classroom. First generation school-goers have little support at home while those with literate siblings or parents are able to cope better. Children who have re-enrolled after a short-term bridge programmes find it difficult to cope in large classrooms. Children from very poor landless families miss schools when their parents migrate for short periods. They find it difficult to manage their lessons when they return. The work burden of children before and after school – especially of girls leave them exhausted inside the classroom. The hard reality is that our teachers have not been trained to deal with diversity in the classroom they are trained to mechanically move from one lesson to another expecting all children to follow. Even teachers who are committed find the situation difficult.  - Is Schooling for the Poor on the Government Agenda?, Vimala Ramachandran, Economic and Political Weekly, 24/07/04, [J.ELDOC.N21.240704EPW3349.html]

 

 

Medium of Instruction

 

The English Hatao' movement of the 60s, concentrated mainly in north India, has gradually been replaced by a pan-Indian demand for 'English Sikhao', cutting across all classes. Now more than ever, most Indians consider English to be the language of opportunity providing access to knowledge, power and material possessions.


... This has had a considerable impact on well known government-aided schools teaching in the regional medium. To cope with this new demand, educational trusts running established regional medium schools have added English medium divisions to existing classes. Some have started entirely new parallel English medium schools. Others have switched entirely to English medium instruction. Government elementary schools continue to teach children in the regional language. These students would traditionally have started the study of English, as a second language, in Std 5 or Std 6. By the time they appear for the Std 10 board examinations, they would have had 500-600 hours of instruction in English. However, instead of acquiring basic communication skills, most of them are unable to speak, read or write even basic sentences in English. Illiteracy in government schools is not confined to English alone. Many children complete five or even eight years of elementary education in the regional language, and are functionally illiterate in the regional language. In such schools, teachers are not likely to be teaching regularly. Regular instruction by government school teachers would significantly improve reading and writing in the regional language, but not English. The overwhelming majority of teachers, who teach English in elementary schools, do not know English themselves. Neither do they know how to teach it. Given the abysmal quality of teaching and learning in all subjects in government schools, it is little wonder that private alternatives, no more than substandard commercial teaching shops, are flourishing all over urban and rural India. Most of these private institutions teach in the regional language, though they claim to be English medium schools. Regional medium schools, especially government institutions, are facing a grave threat. The urban middle class has by now completely deserted the municipal corporation schools. The ambitious poor are following in their footsteps. With private alternatives emerging in the villages, a process of educational differentiation is visible in rural India as well. The response of the political and edu-cational leadership has been inadequate. Reversing a long standing educational policy of beginning the teaching of English as a second language in Std 5 or 6, many states have recently started teaching it from Std 1 onwards. Tamil Nadu, a progressive state in the field of elementary education, is considering teaching it from the pre-primary stage. No research has been cited to justify beginning English earlier.

 

The vitality of our regional cultures depends on the vibrancy of our regional medium schools And if these schools have to stem the exodus of students, English teaching in these institutions must significantly improve... - The English Juggernaut Regional Medium Schools in Crisis, John Kurien, Hindustan Times, 30/04/2004,  [C.ELDOC.N20.30april04ht1.pdf]
 

Unfolding under a single roof of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar multi-lingual municipal school in a Worli bylane is the story of the rise of, and now the take-over by, a new medium of education across Mumbai, no longer chosen only by families who can pay for it.


‘‘Mummy stays home to cook, baba drives a tempo. I can’t speak Marathi properly. But if I don’t learn to speak English, they will hit me,’’ mumbles Pooja Shinde, Std II.

 

Here, children of the Telugu-speaking vegetable vendor, the Maharashtrian maid and the cabbie from Benares seek English education. The influx is so powerful, it is emptying Marathi, Telugu or Gujarati medium classrooms.


Minister for School Education, Amrish Patel, says the State is not liberal toward English schools. ”They receive no grants. Yet Marathi schools have stopped growing,” he says.

 

In Worli, principal E Saraswati and staff share stories of a decade ago when Telugu-medium was bursting with 900 students. Now, Std I has 20 students.‘‘I wonder if Telugu schools will survive even five years,’’ she says.

 

The Telugu school has 212 students from Std I-VII and many teachers to spare. In the same building, the English school has 380 primary students often taught by just one teacher. - The great English takeover is underway, RESHMA PATIL, Indian Express, 29/06/2003,  [C.ELDOC.N20.29jun03ie1.html]


 While West Bengal has launched a drive to reintroduce English from Class I, the Uttar Pradesh government has sparked a controversy by doing the opposite.


To the shock of thousands of students, the government has ini-tiated a move, called Krishna Su-dama Ek Sath Padhe, under which there would be a common syllabus and a common medium of instruction in all primary school, including private schools. English is out, Hindi is in. However, some private schools have questioned the legal validity of the proposal and threatened to move court. Minister for basic education Baleshwar Tyagi said the move was prompted by the "inherent in-equality in our modern learning system". "It is a well-known and proven fact that a child learns best in his mother tongue and Hindi is  our mother tongue," he said. Terming it a historic decision, Tyagi said: "It is time to do away with the current unequal system of education. Why should stu-dents of government schools be taught one syllabus, while those in private or government-aided schools taught another? Even the medium of instruction varies."


...He said the move to re-place the CBSE and ICSE syllabi with a "common school system" has been done "primarily to pro-tect the interests of students who belong to the weaker sections of society". - Hindi haunts UP schools, ANAND SOONDAS, Telegraph, 29/06/2001, [C.ELDOC.N21.29jun01tel1.pdf]

The curriculum of government schools can often alienate tribal and dalit students or those that speak a different dialect and have different frames of references...

 

The Tamil Nadu legislature has adopted the Compulsory Education Act. Complaints have been aired in this context about the nature of the instruction imparted by the state's Tamil medium schools: complaints of excessive reliance on textbooks, of the use of a version of Tamil that alienates lower caste pupils... The educational structure is pyramid-shaped, the higher the grade the steeper the incline a student from a marginalised community has to traverse.  

The instructional method most prevalent in schools - that of chalk and talk - also reduces the sense of affinity students need to develop in order to make use of their education.


Another dimension that is lost due to the rigid conception of 'good' Tamil is the cultural capital accumulated in dialects.


By correcting the speech of the children belonging different com-munities, we dispossess them of  their cultural capital. A poignant example of the sort of loss was observed by me in a Chennai school where there were a number of children from fishing communities. When their teacher introduced the word 'champanki', these first standard children insisted it was a variety of fish. The teacher, who was an upper caste vegetarian, did not agree. The powers vested in her by the state and society ensured that her contention - that it was a flower - prevailed. - 'Learn Thoroughly': Primary Schooling in Tamil Nadu, Aruna R, Economic & Political Weekly, 01/05/1999, [J.ELDOC.N00.01may99EPW.pdf]

 

Attempts to Revitalise Government Schools  

While several recent projects government and non-government, have helped increase access to and enrolment in primary school, the task of raising achievement levels is much more difficult ( Rukmini Banerji, epq  [J.ELDOC.N00.04mar00EPW.pdf]

 

Raising achievement consistently across the board requires new thinking and innovative action on a number of interrelated questions. ... schools and teachers need to be held accountable -internally by the school system, and externally by the community...

 

 

Government Schools that work...

 

TRAWL the Hi]machal countryside, and a primary school crops up every few kilometres, each one boasting not only well-kept classrooms but also a healthy student-teacher ratio of 25:1, or even lower, all for a handsome fee of Rs 2 a month. Neelam Chauhan, a teacher at the Dhyarighat primary school, recalls that the first visible signs of change appeared in the early ’90s, when schools began to proliferate. ‘‘Earlier, there was one school for seven to eight villages, now there’s one after every kilometre or two.’’

 

It is the fallout of a 1993 policy decision, which decreed that no child should have to walk for more than 1.5 km in the hills and 2 km in the plains to reach his school. Besides jacking up the enrollment rate to a handsome 98.7 per cent, this also brought down the dropout rate from 33 per cent in 1994-95 to two per cent in 2003. Keen to pull this down to zero, the government has decided that no student with an attendance of over 80 per cent should be flunked till Class III.

 

The education department has also spiced up teaching by introducing co-curricular activities, a la private schools. ‘‘Come Saturday and the last two periods are devoted to Bal Sabha, in which the students get to sing, dance, and even stage plays,’’ says Hemlata Sharma, a teacher at the Shoghi primary school, showing off a long line of trophies her students have won at zonal-level competitions.

 

This is not all. All too aware of the challenge posed by private primary schools, the Virbhadra Government has now introduced English from Class I, instead of Class IV, where it used to be taught first earlier. Hemlata, who herself graduated from the prestigious St Bede’s in Shimla, says it’s made their schools much more attractive to English-centric parents.  - Class Palace, Manraj Grewal, Indian Express, 30/01/2005,  [C.ELDOC.N20.30jan05IE1.html]

 

A white washed and inviting building, colourful boards and lots of aids prepared by the facilitators and the learners, smiling children and involved teachers, surely this can’t be a village government school? Wait, there is more, the toilets are clean and there is even a small patch of garden that the children themselves tend to. We also spot a girl wearing a hearing aid and a boy with crutches in the classroom. 

When the predominant image of a government school is that of dilapidated building, disinterested teachers and discouraging results, the above mentioned welcome scenario has been possible due to Janashala programme. Janashala programme was started in 1998 as a 5-year project funded by the 5 agencies of the UNO. Implemented through the Ministry of Human Resource Development across 9 states in our country, this programme has been in effect in 10 blocks, covering six districts of Karnataka through the Department of Public Education. Funded at a cost of 11.37 crores in the State, this project has now received an extension of 2 years.  - Adding joy to learning, Bharathi Prabhu, Deccan Herald, 30/03/2003, [C.ELDOC.N21.30mar03dh6.htm]

Initiatives to modify curriculum and teaching...

 

In a dilapidated building sporting the board 'Government High School' in Alwaye, a prominent town in Ernakulam District, a few Class One students are trying to learn the tables of seven by counting the seeds of the manjadi plant. A few others are reading aloud an 'adukkalapaattu' and a 'bhakshanapattu' (songs on kitchen vessels and food) from charts clipped to a rope tied across the classroom. No text-books and no scribbling down meaningless information. The noise is deafening, the scene pure chaos. 'The kids have never enjoyed learning better," says their teacher, "but an official order to cease this kind of teaching could come any day now."This school is one of the many government-aided schools in Kerala that has undergone a curriculum revision under the DPEP (District Primary Education Programme) introduced by the Left government in the early nineties.


...text books were changed. Written content was minimised. Drawing, colouring, group activities, field trips and reading comers in classrooms were the new curriculum. Teachers were trained in batches by expert groups. Monitoring agencies comprising of higher-grade teachers and jilla officers toured schools to extend support and technical tips. But it bombed. In just the fourth year of its implementation, the DPEP lost the complete faith of the public and was labelled the greatest fiasco of the Left government.  - Off the beaten track, Shwetha E George, Humanscape, [J.ELDOC.N00.01jan02HUS2.pdf]

 

Government Schools and Language Education...

 

Alarmed with falling enrollment in the Marathi medium schools, the education committee of the BMC is contemplating making English a compulsory subject. "We believe that if we implement this rule, the number of children opting for English medium schools will be reduced, as they would be getting an English education even in the Marathi medium schools," said BMC education committee chairman and Sena corporator Mangesh Satamkar.
Satamkar’s urgency stems from the fact that 400 Marathi divisions have closed down in the past two years, while 300 more are on the verge of closing. ... in the past three years, over 1,000 Marathi medium divisions have been shut due to poor enrollment as more parents are opting to put their children in English medium schools.  - BMC wants English to save Marathi schools, Krishnakumar, Midday, 01/12/2004,   [C.ELDOC.N20.01dec04mid1.html]

 

The distinction between the quality of government schools and private schools will perpetuate inequality in society...

What do we mean by unequal education? We mean that the quantity of education may be equal, but the quality is not. The performance of Indian states with respect to education has been highly varied. However, even in the states which have expanded the number of schools and increased literacy, all children do not get similar or equal education. The children of the rich go to expensive, private schools while the children from poor families go to government schools. There is a large difference between the education given by these two sets of schools. It is now a commonly known fact that children from government schools are not able to read and write even after many years of schooling. How will this kind of substandard education act as a liberating force? How will it fetch jobs to the underprivileged? How will it enable them to read the Vedas and the Koran and interpret them?

Thus while the government has been very efficient with respect to education which is the consequence of the ‘‘instrumentalist approach’’ (the IITs), it has neglected the education which is necessitated by the ‘‘liberating force’’ approach (the primary schools). As a result, if children from certain families are not able to even read or write after a few years of education, then where is the question of their going to the IITs?- Education, for itself, DHANMANJIRI SATHE, Indian Express, 02/11/2004,  [C.ELDOC.N00.02nov04ie1.html]

 

It is shameful for any child, no matter where, to be deprived of access to good quality education and denied the opportunity to learn and enjoy schooling. The real concern ought to be with the plight of millions of children who learn so little after many years in school. Unfortunately, there are no standardised tests that assess uniformly and systematically the learning achievements of children. That children in schools learn little is no secret. The politicians and bureaucrats responsible for policy-making are aware of this. That is one reason why they do not send their own children to government schools.

 

But for how long will we turn a blind eye to the reality of 60 or 70 or even more children belonging to different classes sitting in one dilapi- dated room being taught many subjects simultaneously by a single teacher? Urgent and substantial inputs are needed to transform these Educational Guarantee Centres into, what Azim Premji calls, Learning Guarantee Schools. - Common School System End Apartheid in Education, A K SHIVA KUMAR, Times of India, 11/11/2003,  [C.ELDOC.N00.11nov03toi1.html]

 

Considerable effort from the helpful villagers did unearth a teacher though. A harried Bhagwat Singh whose excuse for playing hookey was "but I am not a full teacher, I am only a shiksha bandhu". It is the task of this "tenth-pass-from-open school" to corral Uba Paan's variously aged children into a single class in a school with no building, and teach "all subjects", from Class I to V Singh orders his wards to drag in two rickety chairs and a greying scrap of wood, his blackboard. And Uba Paan's Rajiv Gandhi Swam Jayanti Pathshala is on. Only a few of the 33 children enrolled in Bhagwat Singh's roster were actually present, though. Fewer still could write their names. And though he is sup-posed to teach English to Class V their teacher confessed he couldn't write all his students' names in English...


And here's the most pathetic part in the paradox played out through our lopsided education policy. While so keen to give equal chance to less affluent students to get a crack manage - routine of government schools. And now, yet more inequity for the poorest among the poor a second track system of government schooling under the euphemisti-cally titled Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) and Education Guarantee Schemes (EGS)...


Those huge ads from the HRD ministry proclaiming that "Quality elementary education is the Fundamental Bight of every child" tell you little about this sys-tem. Yet, the truth is it's one qual-ity for the rich who can afford pri-vate schooling, and another for the poor whose wards have little option than the dull pedagogic ing in "small and access less habi-tations" as in Uba Paan and the stated target of the government is to enrol 1.22 crore children in such 'alternative' schools.


These inferior schools can now be found in the poorest pockets of semi-rural and urban India. Needless to say, they will help scale up the country's education statistics. But to what intent? In some states, all it takes to qualify as a teacher is a pass in Class VII. Once hired on short-term contracts, and variously called para-teachers, shiksha karmis, shiksha bandhus, shiksha mitrs, lok shikshak or guruji, they are paid much lower wages than their counterparts in mainstream government schools, and barely trained in teaching, if at all. They then take Classes I-V, typically with all the students huddled in a single classroom. If there is any room. Since infrastructural support from the government is minimal, there are few or no buildings or toilet facilities, and meagre teaching devices. "Our education policy is legitimizing social discrimination," fulminates Anil Sadgopal ..."The EGS and ATE are designed to promote inequity.- No Schools for them, Soma Wadhwa, Grassroot Development, 01/04/2004, [C.ELDOC.N21.01apr04GRD14.pdf]

The dismal allocation and inefficient utilisation of funds would naturally result in poor quality of education imparted...
 

The bonsaification of education has caused damage on many fronts. Like allocating a mere 15 per cent of what Parliament actually promised for basic education. Try running your household at 15 per cent of your normal budget and you will soon discover how difficult it is. Further, bonsaification has evolved spurious definitions of a school. The best on offer is the official primary school with twin rooms and two teachers miraculously running five classes simultaneously. Then there is a single room facility (often a shack), irregularly manned by an eighth class pass or 10th class pass person who ‘guarantees’ education.- Bonsai Effect in Basic Education, SANJIV KAURA, 08/01/2004,  [C.ELDOC.N00.08jan04toi1.html]

 

GIVEN the poor literacy and school completion rates in India after more than 50 years of inde-pendence, the Common Mini-mum Programme (CMP) of Asia (see table) have achieved high literacy rates by spend-ing around 2% of GDP or less on education. Public spending per student should be a certain proportion of per capita GDP. This ratio in India equals that of the US at the new coalition government 20.8%. This is much higher promises to increase public than that in the UK (15.8%), spending on education from 4.1 % of GDP to 6%. However, many developing countries have achieved better results with far little spends. And there we have India's problem wasteful spending. India spends 4.1% of its GDP on education but boasts of just 65% literacy. China, on the other hand, spends only 2.2 % of GDP on education, yet has 91 % literacy. Sri Lanka and Indonesia spend only 1.3%-of GDP on education, yet have literacy rates of 92.5% and 88% respectively..


The problem is not lack of mon-ey but lack of quality. Teachers in government schools earn twice or thrice the salary that teachers in private schools earn, yet are unmotivated, skip school, and teach very little. One survey by Pratichi in select West Bengal schools showed that only 7% of students could spell their own names.
Money alone can't teach kids to read & write, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, Economic Times, 01/06/2004, [C.ELDOC.N20.01jun04et1.pdf]

 

The usual argument put out by all Governments, State as well as Central, is the shortage of funds for education. But look at Maharashtra's performance on this count. Although the outlay for successive years for education has increased, only a fraction of it is actually spent. The Bal Hakk Abhiyan report outlines the discre-pancy between plan allocations and actual funds made available in the annual State budget for education as well as the gap between the amounts allocated and the amounts spent. For instance, in 1998, Thane district should have built 700 classrooms. Instead only 72 were built. In Akola, the target was 500. Only one classroom was built. In Washim too, only one was built although the target was 170. Every district had a huge shortfall between target and actual performance. In Chandrapur, not a single new classroom has been built since 1997. How can things improve if the deficit of physical spaces where children are sup- posed to learn is so enormous?
Even funds provided by the Centre have not been utilised. For instance, Rs. 10.40 crores were sanctioned by the State Gov-ernment in 1993- 94 under a scheme spon-sored by the Centre to buy 8,000 colour television sets for primary schools that are run by Zilla Parishads. But an audit in-spection (December 1996 to October 1997) found that out of a total of 880 TV sets which were to be distributed in seven dis-tricts, 520 sets, costing Rs. 66.24 lakhs, could not be used. Here is what the report states: "The TV sets in 42 schools of Thane district were not used due to absence of electricity, 246 schools of Sindhudurg, Sangli and Ratnagiri were not in the limit of transmission, in 162 schools of Ratnagi-ri, Aurangabad, Raigad, Satara and Thane, the TV sets sent were defective or dam-aged. Further, in 70 cases in Ratnagiri and Aurangabad the sets were not used as the schools were not provided boosters." So much for audio-visual learning tools.- Waiting to learn, Kalpana Sharma, The Hindu, [C.ELDOC.N21.14sep01h1.pdf]


  The Problems with Government Schools

 

 undisciplined, unmotivated teachers and a dull curriculum naturally affect the interest level of children...

Educationist and dissent-ing member in the Ashok Mitra Commission Sunanda Sanyal, who remains one of the government's bitterest crit-ics in the education sector, read out a litany of charges. Bengal's schools did not have a high dropout rate, he said. The number of en-trants itself was very low, he added, quoting from a 1998 Unicef report. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan would fail in Bengal, Sanyal said; a government that could  not handle formal education  would not be able to manage non-formal education, espe-cially when teachers would be  paid only Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000. Besides, the government has failed in making schools and the curriculum "attractive".  Schools without meals, toilets  and uniform and a syllabus that did not pay any attention to "area-specific needs" are  what Bengal's students have  got apart from a politicised school environment. Biswas did not deny the charges. "Amar buk bhenge  jaye" he said, explaining how  lack of finances had prevented changes.

- Kanti confesses to flaws in education policy, The Telegraph, 06/02/2005,  [C.ELDOC.N20.06feb05tel1.pdf]

 

Though government schools are meant to work for around 200 days in a year, they invariably function for 150 days or less. Schools are closed at the drop of a hat, for local festivals, preparation for national celebrations, and other official and unofficial reasons. In the nation's capital, municipal schools were closed in honour of a local married politician, who was murdered by his mistress for paying attention to another woman! In municipal schools, where students attend the morning or afternoon shift, actual instruction time is limited to about two or three hours. Shorter academic years, taken together with shorter school days, effectively reduce the prescribed hours of instruction almost by half. An international study of teacher absence in seven low- and middle-income countries, indicated that 25% of all government primary school teachers in India were absent on a typical school day, exceeded only by Uganda (27%). PROBE survey of schools in north India indicated that only about 50% of the activities of teachers present could be classified as teaching. Other activities include maintaining discipline, administrative work, talking to other teachers, sleeping, and getting students to massage them. Shorter academic years and school hours, absentee teachers, and poor quality teaching have had a disastrous effect on the education of most poor children attending government schools. When teachers are chronically absent, many children simply stop attending school.


Innovations, like better textbooks and better teacher training, will continue to be important and  necessary. But their contribution to significant improvement in children's learning will be limited, when so little teaching actually takes place.


Is there any hope for change? The good news, for example, is that among other measures, the present government has reconstituted the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) and committed itself to significantly increasing the elementary education budget.


But we must be clear that even exponentially increased funding for our non-functioning government schools will not prevent them from collapsing.

- Teach First, John Kurien, Times of India, 27/10/2004, , [C.ELDOC.N20.27oct04toi1.pdf]

 

State-run schools in India are perceived to have failed in providing quality education. Who is to blame for this? If the government school system is reformed, a majority of public schools will go out of business. Even now for the last several years the best CBSE results are coming from Navodaya schools. The next best results are from Central schools. There is ample evidence that the government has almost adopted a policy to let their school system dete-riorate. In Indore,  the government de-cided to shut down 30 schools on the ra-tionale that very few children were left. Instead of reform-ing the system, they closed it down and prime school properties were given to private players.

 

... The teachers in government schools are often better paid and even better trained. Till the mid-70s government schools were far superior to public schools. Post that period, the quality of teaching in these schools started suffering. The problem is not the quality of staff but the rigid hierarchical and centralised structure of these schools. The principals aren't even empowered to take education-related decisions which demotivates a large number of teachers. The middle class which struggles to send its children to expensive public schools would be the first to send their children to government schools if they got the right quality of education there. In fact, it is the middle class which is now demanding it. In public schools quality is being defined by the western markets.

 

What should be the role of the government vis-a-vis schools in the private sector? If we believe that schools must contribute to social change then we must accept the government's role as a regulator.The Supreme Court order is also a reminder to the policy makers that we have not been able to fulfill our constitutional obligation of equitable quality education for all children.

 

- Systems Failure, An interview with Anil Sadgopal, Times of India, 04/05/2004,  [C.ELDOC.N20.04may04toi1.pdf]

 

I asked if Dalit children still faced discrimination in the village school. The elders, sunning themselves that morning on the village chaupal were mostly upper caste and began by emphatically denying that there was discrimination and then one of them admitted that discrimination had lessened because it was mostly poor Dalit children who continued to attend the local government school. The education offered was so abysmal that those who could afford private schools (naturally only the upper castes) preferred to send their children to them even if it meant sending them to the nearest town. They would rather pay full fees than pretend that the village school offered anything that could be remotely described as education. In these days when jobs are increasingly hard to find they were acutely aware of the importance of proper education if their children were going to to compete in the highly competitive new job market.

 

The village school suffered the usual problems. Teachers, despite being very well paid these days, came and went when they liked and nobody could remember a single day when they were all present. This kind of capricious behaviour meant that children were lucky if they could learn to read and write at the end of their school education.

 

...Ironically, even at the village level what is required is not more government schools but better quality schools both government and private.

- Why Joshi is Vajpayee’s weakest link, TAVLEEN SINGH, Indian Express, 15/02/2004, [C.ELDOC.N20.15feb04ie2.html]

 

There are more than 43,000 primary schools in the state set up by the government alone, catering to the educational needs of nearly one crore students. While the enrolment rate in the state is among the highest in the country, what is of primary concern today is the quality of education being imparted especially in government schools. The whopping drop-out rate of   34 per cent in primary schools is an indication that everything is not well.

 

  A majority of the government schools especially in the rural sector are devoid of even basic infrastructure. Only 18 per cent of schools have girls' toilet and only 64 per cent of schools have drinking water facilities. As many as 11,000 classrooms are in an incomplete state. These are just conservative estimates. Even the report on Human Development in Karnataka brought out by the State Planning Department places the literacy rates in Raichur, Gulbarga, Bidar, Bellary, Mandya, Mysore, Kolar and Bangalore Rural districts lower than the literacy rates of sub-Saharan African countries.

 

    The startling facts brought out following an independent study by a group of teachers working both in government and aided schools is still fresh in the minds of the people. The survey initiated in 1998 by Prof B K Chandrashekar, who is presently the Minister of State for Information Technology, found that 68 per cent of students of seventh standard studying  in Kannada medium in Bangalore South zone could not write the alphabets properly either in Kannada or English. The survey included 55 schools in Bangalore South zone. Also, about 2,631 students of 7th standard (Kannada medium) of government and aided schools came under scrutiny. Interestingly, the pass percentage in the 7th standard public   examination in these schools is more than 80 per cent every year!

  - Focus on quality, Vijesh Kamat, Deccan Herald 14/09/2001 [C.ELDOC.N20.elementary_education.htm]

 

Official figures suggest that the government spends approximately Rs 1,000 per year on a school going child [Gol 1997]. In Mumbai the per student government expenditure is even higher: Rs 4,393 per year, on the basis of the education department budget. What does this money buy in terms of basic skill acquisition? A very rough estimate, based on a variety of government and other studies, suggests that, on average, four years of schooling generates learning levels worth two years across the country. While several recent projects government and non-government, have helped increase access to and enrolment in primary school, the task of raising achievement levels is much more difficult. Raising achievement consistently across the board requires new thinking and innovative action on a number of interrelated questions. ... schools and teachers need to be held accountable -internally by the school system, and externally by the community... The three sets of empirical findings discussed in this paper serve to highlight specific problem aspects of primary schooling in urban India today and to show that the standard explanations are not sufficient. Based on field studies in slum communities in Mumbai and Delhi, the paper suggests that reasons why children are not in school or why they are not learning have more to do with the nature of schools than with the economic circumstances of their families. While school enrolment has risen dramatically in cities and villages, the ability of the government school system to retain and adequately educate children has been less impressive. An urban school system is supposed to provide schooling opportunities for all the children in the city. However, planning and imple-mentation of this mandate seems to assume that each school can cope with this task on its own. The large inequalities among schools in terms of teaching-learning conditions are largely ignored. The coverage of poorer localities in cities by schools has expanded, but not fast enough to keep pace with the growing populations of these areas. The school systems of Mumbai and Delhi do not have the flexibility to quickly reallocate teachers, materials and resources from one part of the city to another. For example, municipal school enrolment in south Mumbai has declined over time even while in suburban areas, schools are bursting at the seams and teachers have very large numbers of children in their classes. Overcrowded schools are difficult places for teaching or learning.

- Poverty and Primary Schooling Field Studies from Mumbai and Delhi, RUKMINI BANERJI, Economic & Political Weekly, 04/03/2000, [J.ELDOC.N00.04mar00EPW.pdf]

 

Pratham surveys show that in the slums of Mumbai, nearly 35 per cent The write thing: 'Out of 200 m children, 100 m cannot read' children in the six to 14 age group cannot read, leave alone write. In the rest of the districts of Maharashtra, the situation is not too different from these two tehsils. It would be reasonably correct to say that, across India, about 50 per cent or more children in grades II to V in government schools cannot read. In the north, where primary education has been deregulated, the children in the shanty private schools do not do much better. The number is quite shocking. Imagine, out of about 200 million children in the six to 14 age group, nearly 100 million cannot read! At the same time, it is a very interesting number. Government statistics tell us that 40 per cent of the children enrolled in grade I (and it is claimed that 96 per cent do enroll!) will drop out of school before completing grade V. Over 50 per cent will not make it beyond grade VII and about 66 per cent will not cross grade X. If 50 per cent of enrolled children cannot read by the time they are in grade IV, how can they continue to be in school? The correlation between not being able to read and dropping out is clear and simple. The daily humiliation in class leaves these children no option but to leave school.

- Learning to teach, Dr Madhav Chavan, Humanscape, 01/12/2003, [J.ELDOC.N00.01dec03HUS.pdf]
 

The fundamental problems in universalisation of elementary ed-ucation are enrolment, retention and satisfactory learning by the children in the school. There are so many reasons for this ranging from the lack of schools, to insufficient number of teachers, to poor attention to children and to lack of training of the teachers. To begin with, every parent, es-pecially the ones who have them-selves never been to school, need to be convinced that sending their children to school is the most nat-ural action to take.


The teachers need to make learn-ing enjoyable, and pay special attention to children who have a little difficulty in maintaining the learn-ing speed. At that impressionable stage, all that the children perceive is teachers as their role models. Shouting at the students, not teach-ing in an interesting manner, not in-volving the child in learning, send-ing children out of school for any reason, and all other acts of dis-couragement will not serve the purpose of education. Parents, on their part, must ask the child what has been learnt in the school, ask questions, meet the teachers and express interest in the learning process. The government also has a role in setting performance stan-dards for learning and ensuring that they are adhered to.

- A Learning Experience A Child's Right to Education, AZIM PREMJI, Times of India, 09/12/2000,
  [C.ELDOC.N21.09dec00toi1.pdf]

 

... schools located in different localities in the same village are endowed differently in infrastructure, teacher-pupil ratio, training and capacity building of teachers. There is also a significant difference in the quality of schools that come directly under the education department and those that come under social or tribal welfare. There is also a big difference in the resource allocation (financial, human) between formal primary schools and a range of alternative schools like the Education Guarantee Scheme – even though the latter reportedly function more regularly because the teachers are appointed on contract basis. Most state governments – including West Bengal (where local women above the age of 40 and have studied up to grade 10 are hired); have appointed parateachers paying them less than one-third the wages of a regular teacher. Smaller habitations are worst hit with one teacher managing classes 1 to 5 in a school with minimal facilities.

 

The biggest blow to quality education came with the interpretation and mindless use of the no-detention policy. Children are pushed from one grade to the next with little care taken to ensure they attain grade specific competencies. As a result, we can find children who reach grade five without knowing how to read or write! Teachers are not held accountable for learning levels their ‘performance appraisal’ is limited to enrolment data and retention rate. No one really cares to find out whether children have learnt anything at all. As a result they can get away without teaching – as discovered in a number of research studies conducted under the aegis of the DPEP programme.

- Is Schooling for the Poor on the Government Agenda?, Vimala Ramachandran, Economic and Political Weekly, 24/07/04, [J.ELDOC.N21.240704EPW3349.html]

 

The centrality of the government school in the lives of poor children is undeniable. Across the three States, between 70 per cent to 80 per cent of children from poor households are enrolled in government schools. This is why the overall functioning of the government school, (in particular, the quality of teaching) becomes critical. Pushing children into dysfunctional or poorly functioning schools is making a mockery of the right to education. First generation school goers require an extraordinary amount of care and attention, and if we are serious about guaranteeing every child the right to education, then we have to transform our work culture and attitudes.

- Snakes and ladders, VIMALA RAMACHANDRAN, Hindu, 10/08/2003, [C.ELDOC.N21.10aug03h4.html]

 

Multi-level teaching affects the quality of education imparted, even further...

THE officials handling Maharashtra’s ambitious Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan for universal primary enrolment could do with a sunny hike across the vast, dry fields of Sangli on the Karnataka border. They will meet young Pramila Kamble, panting hard, as she shuffles between rows of students of Class I-IV crammed in a 10 ft by 10 ft free room in the home of farmer and tempo driver, Vishnu Bindale at Arag village. His ageing mother cooks the compulsory mid-day meal of 100 gm rice per child in the family kitchen. ‘‘No big deal,’’ grins Vishnu.

 

 Here, Pramila has a nameplate to prove a BA degree can go places. ‘‘I pretend I’m teaching one class, not four at a time,’’ she says. When Class I is told to be quiet and draw, Pramila pays attention to alphabets for Class II. But restless Class IV left alone with sums, musters up a noisy pitch. Class III stares blankly, waiting for their turn with teacher. Is that quality education? New one-teacher schools have not been sanctioned in Maharashtra since several years. But an exception are vastishala or community schools started in homes or just anywhere free so that kids don’t have to walk miles to schools far away.

 

... On a rugged hill in Landgewadi, 51-year-old Basling Khot scrambles between Class I, II and IV. He’s crammed three classes in one room. ‘‘I do get tired. A second teacher is sanctioned, but not appointed,’’ says Khot. Though new single-teacher schools are not permitted, Sangli has an ancient cluster of 33 one-teacher schools dotting its countryside.

Room with a school, Reshma Patil, Indian Express, 07/12/2003, [C.ELDOC.N20.07dec03ie1.html]

 

Even more worrying is that even when teachers do come to school, the average teaching time for each group of children in a multigrade situation could be as low as 25 minutes a day! Teachers – who do want to teach and those on contract who have to teach realise that they not only manage different grades in one classroom but have to deal with tremendous diversity inside the classroom. First generation school-goers have little support at home while those with literate siblings or parents are able to cope better. Children who have re-enrolled after a short-term bridge programmes find it difficult to cope in large classrooms. Children from very poor landless families miss schools when their parents migrate for short periods. They find it difficult to manage their lessons when they return. The work burden of children before and after school – especially of girls leave them exhausted inside the classroom. The hard reality is that our teachers have not been trained to deal with diversity in the classroom they are trained to mechanically move from one lesson to another expecting all children to follow. Even teachers who are committed find the situation difficult.

- Is Schooling for the Poor on the Government Agenda?, Vimala Ramachandran, Economic and Political Weekly, 24/07/04, [J.ELDOC.N21.240704EPW3349.html]

 

 

The curriculum of government schools can often alienate tribal and dalit students or those that speak a different dialect and have different frames of references...

 

The Tamil Nadu legislature has adopted the Compulsory Education Act. Complaints have been aired in this context about the nature of the instruction imparted by the state's Tamil medium schools: complaints of excessive reliance on textbooks, of the use of a version of Tamil that alienates lower caste pupils... The educational structure is pyramid-shaped, the higher the grade the steeper the incline a student from a marginalised community has to traverse.

 

The instructional method most prevalent in schools - that of chalk and talk - also reduces the sense of affinity students need to develop in order to make use of their education.


Another dimension that is lost due to the rigid conception of 'good' Tamil is the cultural capital accumulated in dialects.


By correcting the speech of the children belonging different com-munities, we dispossess them of  their cultural capital. A poignant example of the sort of loss was observed by me in a Chennai school where there were a number of children from fishing communities. When their teacher introduced the word 'champanki', these first standard children insisted it was a variety of fish. The teacher, who was an upper caste vegetarian, did not agree. The powers vested in her by the state and society ensured that her contention - that it was a flower - prevailed.

- 'Learn Thoroughly': Primary Schooling in Tamil Nadu, Aruna R, Economic & Political Weekly, 01/05/1999, [J.ELDOC.N00.01may99EPW.pdf]
 

 
A specific provision in respect of the quality of education in the proposed Constitution amendment will makes it obligatory for the state to provide properly qualified manpower and adequate financial resources in terms of infrastructure, equipment, scientific aids, textbooks and so on. Thus, for example, considerable further work needs to be done to rewrite the textbooks which will make elementary education a rewarding and enjoyable experience for children. The large social, economic and cultural gap in the urban and rural settings from which the students hail must be suitably taken into account in the preparation of the textbooks. A categorical mention of quality in the proposed amendment will also, to some extent, deter the states from implementing low cost schemes for primary education.

- Madhav Godbole, Elementary Education as a Fundamental Right: The Issues, Economic and Political Weekly, December 15 2001

 
First-generation learners in government schools lack this social capital. There are no official structures in place to offer guidance to this group of students. "Preparation for post-secondary education requires a certain kind of training but for my classmates and me, even information about options at the higher secondary level is scarce", a 10th grade student in Chennai laments. "Do we have the skills and the knowledge base to cope with the various specialisations offered in a higher secondary course? If we don't, how do we acquire them? Where do we go for information on the possibilities for scholarships or educational loans? We need to pester our parents or their friends for such information. Many of us have parents who are menial labourers who barely read.
A 13-year old labourer argued that he preferred adult literacy classes to going to school, since such classes combined meaningful activities with instruction on reading and writing. According to him, his  work as a child labourer in a match factory gives him skills that cannot be learnt in any school, and this training plus adult education would open more doors for him."When I am 16 1 am going to be in a better position to start my own unit than any school graduate. I know where to go to get loans, who to hire and what to invest in. You show me one school graduate who can match this." In this folk theory of possibility, school-based education has no firm place.


This ambiguous attitude towards public education is made sharper by the common perception of a middle class flight from it. To many parents, the public education we as a society have planned and built is a luxurious accessory. "Literacy without a sense of empowerment is what is on offer in schools, and we cannot afford it", said a parent. Obtaining this education in a meaningful and empowering way is deterred by the very system - its pyramidal structure. The socio-economic conditions of the majority of families make the incline of this pyramid steeper. We need to rethink primary education in the context of parental aspirations as well as children's propensity to learn. Very sensitive localised adapt-ations to accommodate the socio-cultural milieus of the marginalised groups are called for.

- 'Learn Thoroughly': Primary Schooling in Tamil Nadu, Aruna R, Economic & Political Weekly, 01/05/1999, [J.ELDOC.N00.01may99EPW.pdf]
 

Today in most of the schools we find pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses and slokas from Hindu scriptures. Recently I visited a school run by Mumbai Municipal Corporation and found entire atmosphere suffused with of Hindu religion. There was no representation of any other religion at all. Not a single picture or quotation from Bible or Qur'an or Sikhism. This obviously discourages children of other communities to study in such atmosphere where they feel totally alienated.

- EDUCATION, SECULARISM AND HUMAN VALUES, Asghar Ali Engineer, Secular Perspective, 01/10/2004, N00, [C.ELDOC.N00.01oct04sep1.html ]
 

 

Government Schools that work...

 

TRAWL the Himachal countryside, and a primary school crops up every few kilometres, each one boasting not only well-kempt clasrooms but also a healthy student-teacher ratio of 25:1, or even lower, all for a handsome fee of Rs 2 a month. Neelam Chauhan, a teacher at the Dhyarighat primary school, recalls that the first visible signs of change appeared in the early ’90s, when schools began to proliferate. ‘‘Earlier, there was one school for seven to eight villages, now there’s one after every kilometre or two.’’

 

It is the fallout of a 1993 policy decision, which decreed that no child should have to walk for more than 1.5 km in the hills and 2 km in the plains to reach his school. Besides jacking up the enrollment rate to a handsome 98.7 per cent, this also brought down the dropout rate from 33 per cent in 1994-95 to two per cent in 2003. Keen to pull this down to zero, the government has decided that no student with an attendance of over 80 per cent should be flunked till Class III.

 

The education department has also spiced up teaching by introducing co-curricular activities, a la private schools. ‘‘Come Saturday and the last two periods are devoted to Bal Sabha, in which the students get to sing, dance, and even stage plays,’’ says Hemlata Sharma, a teacher at the Shoghi primary school, showing off a long line of trophies her students have won at zonal-level competitions.

 

This is not all. All too aware of the challenge posed by private primary schools, the Virbhadra Government has now introduced English from Class I, instead of Class IV, where it used to be taught first earlier. Hemlata, who herself graduated from the prestigious St Bede’s in Shimla, says it’s made their schools much more attractive to English-centric parents.

- Class Palace, Manraj Grewal, Indian Express, 30/01/2005,  [C.ELDOC.N20.30jan05IE1.html]

 

A white washed and inviting building, colourful boards and lots of aids prepared by the facilitators and the learners, smiling children and involved teachers, surely this can’t be a village government school? Wait, there is more, the toilets are clean and there is even a small patch of garden that the children themselves tend to. We also spot a girl wearing a hearing aid and a boy with crutches in the classroom. 

When the predominant image of a government school is that of dilapidated building, disinterested teachers and discouraging results, the above mentioned welcome scenario has been possible due to Janashala programme. Janashala programme was started in 1998 as a 5-year project funded by the 5 agencies of the UNO. Implemented through the Ministry of Human Resource Development across 9 states in our country, this programme has been in effect in 10 blocks, covering six districts of Karnataka through the Department of Public Education. Funded at a cost of 11.37 crores in the State, this project has now received an extension of 2 years.
 

- Adding joy to learning, Bharathi Prabhu, Deccan Herald, 30/03/2003,[C.ELDOC.N21.30mar03dh6.htm]

 

 

NGO and Govt joint initiatives...

 

In the seventies, Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work took an initiative to work with municipal schools in Mumbai. It was the first time a partnership of this kind had been forged between an educational institution and the municipal corporation. We wanted to demonstrate how social services help for the education of the marginalised.

 

 The way we see it is that the BMC has to be accountable to its citizens. Citizens should be able to work together with the BMC, and not antagonise it. Thus, Pratham was born in Mumbai in 1994, committed to the cause of universalisation of primary education. Although it was technically set up as a nongovernment organisation (NGO), it is really a platform that brings together the local self-government, the corporate sector and the voluntary sector.
The Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan of the State is modelled on the Pratham pattern. It incorporates a community-based monitoring system. The Pratham model is cheap, low-cost and replicable; it uses existing resources- "your resource, our mechanism". By 2002, the organisation has spread to 21 cities, (ten of which are in Maharashtra).

- Pratham - preparing the very young, Farida Lambay, Humanscape, 01/10/2002, [J.ELDOC.N00.01oct02HUS.pdf]

 

 

Initiatives to modify curriculum and teaching...

 

In a dilapidated building sporting the board 'Govern-ment High School' in Alwaye, a prominent town in Ernakulam District, a few Class One students are trying to learn the tables of seven by counting the seeds of the manjadi plant. A few others are reading aloud an 'adukkalapaattu' and a 'bhakshanapattu' (songs on kitchen vessels and food) from charts clipped to a rope tied across the classroom. No text-books and no scribbling down meaningless information. The noise is deafening, the scene pure chaos. 'The kids have never enjoyed learning better," says their teacher, "but an official order to cease this kind of teaching could come any day now."This school is one of the many government-aided schools in Kerala that has undergone a curriculum revision under the DPEP (District Primary Education Programme) intro-duced by the Left government in the early nineties.


...text books were changed. Written content was minimised. Drawing, colouring, group activities, field trips and reading comers in classrooms were the new curricu-lum. Teachers were trained in batches by expert groups. Monitoring agencies comprising of higher-grade teachers and jilla officers toured schools to extend support and tech-nical tips. But it bombed. In just the fourth year of its implementation, the DPEP lost the complete faith of the public and was labelled the greatest fiasco of the Left government.

- Off the beaten track, Shwetha E George, Humanscape, [J.ELDOC.N00.01jan02HUS2.pdf]

 

 

Government Schools and Language Education...

Alarmed with falling enrollment in the Marathi medium schools, the education committee of the BMC is contemplating making English a compulsory subject. "We believe that if we implement this rule, the number of children opting for English medium schools will be reduced, as they would be getting an English education even in the Marathi medium schools," said BMC education committee chairman and Sena corporator Mangesh Satamkar.


Satamkar’s urgency stems from the fact that 400 Marathi divisions have closed down in the past two years, while 300 more are on the verge of closing. ... in the past three years, over 1,000 Marathi medium divisions have been shut due to poor enrollment as more parents are opting to put their children in English medium schools.

- BMC wants English to save Marathi schools, Krishnakumar, Midday, 01/12/2004,   [C.EDLOC.N20.01dec04mid1.html]

 

The English Hatao' movement of the 60s, concentrated mainly in north India, has gradually been replaced by a pan-Indian demand for 'English Sikhao', cutting across all classes. Now more than ever, most Indians consider English to be the language of opportunity providing access to know-ledge, power and material possessions.


... This has had a considerable impact on well known government-aided schools teaching in the regional medium. To cope with this new demand, educa-tional trusts running established regional medium schools have added English medium divisions to existing classes. Some have started entirely new parallel English medi-um schools. Others have switched entirely to English medium instruction. Government elementary schools continue to teach children in the regional lan-guage. These students would traditionally have started the study of English, as a second language, in Std 5 or Std 6. By the time they appear for the Std 10 board examinations, they would have had 500-600 hours of instruction in English. However, instead of acquiring basic communication skills, most of them are unable to speak, read or write even basic sentences in English. Illiteracy in government schools is not confined to English alone. Many children complete five or even eight years of elementary education in the regional language, and are functionally illiterate in the regional language. In such schools, teachers are not likely to be teaching regularly. Regular instruction by government school teachers would significantly improve reading and writing in the regional angu-age, but not English. The overwhelming majority of teachers, who teach English in elementary schools, do not know English themselves. Neither do they know how to teach it. Given the abysmal quality of teaching and learning in all subjects in government schools, it is little wonder that private alternatives, no more than substandard commercial teaching shops, are flourishing all over urban and rural India. Most of these private institutions teach in the regional language, though they claim to be English medium schools. Regional medium schools, especially government institutions, are facing a grave threat. The urban middle class has by now completely deserted the municipal corporation schools. The ambitious poor are following in their footsteps. With private alternatives emerging in the villages, a process of educational differentiation is visible in rural India as well. The response of the political and edu-cational leadership has been inadequate. Reversing a long standing educational policy of beginning the teaching of English as a second language in Std 5 or 6, many states have recently started teaching it from Std 1 onwards. Tamil Nadu, a progressive state in the field of elementary education, is considering teaching it from the pre-primary stage. No research has been cited to justify beginning English earlier.

 

The vitality of our regional cultures depends on the vibrancy of our regional medium schools And if these schools have to stem the exodus of students, English teaching in these institutions must significantly improve...

 

- The English Juggernaut Regional Medium Schools in Crisis, John Kurien, Hindustan Times, 30/04/2004, N20 [C.ELDOC.N20.30april04ht1.pdf ]
 

Unfolding under a single roof of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar multi-lingual municipal school in a Worli bylane is the story of the rise of, and now the take-over by, a new medium of education across Mumbai, no longer chosen only by families who can pay for it.
‘‘Mummy stays home to cook, baba drives a tempo. I can’t speak Marathi properly. But if I don’t learn to speak English, they will hit me,’’ mumbles Pooja Shinde, Std II.

 

Here, children of the Telugu-speaking vegetable vendor, the Maharashtrian maid and the cabbie from Benares seek English education. The influx is so powerful, it is emptying Marathi, Telugu or Gujarati medium classrooms.


Minister for School Education, Amrish Patel, says the State is not liberal toward English schools. ”They receive no grants. Yet Marathi schools have stopped growing,” he says.

 

In Worli, principal E Saraswati and staff share stories of a decade ago when Telugu-medium was bursting with 900 students. Now, Std I has 20 students.‘‘I wonder if Telugu schools will survive even five years,’’ she says.

 

The Telugu school has 212 students from Std I-VII and many teachers to spare. In the same building, the English school has 380 primary students often taught by just one teacher.

 

- The great English takeover is underway, RESHMA PATIL, Indian Express, 29/06/2003,  [C.ELDOC.N20.29jun03ie1.html]


  While West Bengal has launched a drive to reintroduce English from Class I, the Uttar Pradesh government has sparked a controversy by doing the opposite.


To the shock of thousands of students, the government has ini-tiated a move, called Krishna Su-dama Ek Sath Padhe, under which there would be a common syllabus and a common medium of instruction in all primary school, including private schools. English is out, Hindi is in. However, some private schools have questioned the legal validity of the proposal and threatened to move court. Minister for basic education Baleshwar Tyagi said the move was prompted by the "inherent in-equality in our modern learning system". "It is a well-known and proven fact that a child learns best in his mother tongue and Hindi is  our mother tongue," he said. Terming it a historic decision, Tyagi said: "It is time to do away with the current unequal system of education. Why should stu-dents of government schools be taught one syllabus, while those in private or government-aided schools taught another? Even the medium of instruction varies."


...He said the move to re-place the CBSE and ICSE syllabi with a "common school system" has been done "primarily to pro-tect the interests of students who belong to the weaker sections of society".


- Hindi haunts UP schools, ANAND SOONDAS, Telegraph, 29/06/2001, [C.ELDOC.N21.29jun01tel1.pdf]



Efforts to regulate the quality of education...


An external review system may well be the next stage towards quality improvement in the unaided  school education sector in Tamil Nadu. The Prof. A. Gnanam committee that has prepared a revised curriculum and syllabus for matriculation schools, has mooted this external quality review (EQR) system to make the institutions strive for self-improvement... The EQR system has been mooted by the Prof. Gnanam committee in lieu of the present 'inspection system' for matric-ulation schools. In a mass education system where the number of institutions is too large and mobility of students is happening across large distances, an inspectorate type of regulation might not bring in the expected enhancement of essential quality.


The proposed EQR system combines internal responsibilities  with external reference points and leads the institutions towards self improvement, the report notes. When contacted, Dr. Gnanam said there was indeed a need to have an EQR system coordinated by an external body. "Following the models in higher education system available in Australia or the United


States, schools can come together to form an assessment/ accreditation body at the State level. We can have trained and unbiased assessors from different sectors. The schools can be asked to prepare a self assessment report and send it to the State-level body which can do the EQR assessment to validate a school's own conclusions," he adds.

 

- Review system mooted to improve quality of unaided schools, K. Ramachandran, The Hindu, 15/10/2004 [C.ELDOC.N20.15oct04h1.pdf]

 

...How can this idea of privately run schools be turned into practice? An ‘‘education voucher system’’ would represent an ideal ‘public-private partnership’ which would genuinely improve educational outcomes. Parents would be free to choose a school, pay with vouchers and the money would be collected by schools from the government using those vouchers. Entrepreneurs running schools would go out of business if their teachers do not teach. Successful schools would be those that deliver results. An education voucher system would bring about professionalism, like NIIT or Aptech, to elementary schools, and eliminate the problem of incompetent political party workers being recruited as teachers by government schools. The system allows us to mix the best of all worlds: more efficient public expenditure on education, empowerment of poor parents, choice in the hands of parents and competition between schools for attracting students.
 

- The cess in cesspool, ILA PATNAIK, Indian Express, 13/08/2004  [C.ELDOC.N20.13aug04ie1.html ]
 
 

The entire model is in place, but the state is now awaiting the appointment of a Minister for Primary Education for final approval and Cabinet clearance.

*Opinion survey of parents to gauge school functioning.
*School managements’ tools aimed at accountability.
*Assessment report cards for schools every two years along with standard indicators of educational outcomes.

Well, we are not talking about any high sounding project here, but a grassroot-level programme in store for every school in the state. Each of the 60,000 government, aided and primary schools will be covered by a special quality assurance programme to assist school development and learning enhancement.
On the cards is the setting up of the Karnataka School Quality Assurance Organisation (KSQAO), a first of its kind initiative in India, which will function as a “quality-watch” body drawing upon expertise available in and outside the system.

Once cleared by the State cabinet, the organisation will set in motion a system of monitoring to ensure that every school, government or private, maintains minimum expected standards and also effectively implements improvement plans.

- School, staff to come under quality audit, VIJESH KAMATH, Deccan Herald, 09/12/2004, [C.ELDOC.N21.09dec04dch2.html]
 

Consider this: 80% of children who pass class V from State run schools in Delhi do not know to read or write their names. In our own State, MAYA an NGO found that in Government Lower Primary School in Gavipuram Guttahalli, for eg. 33.4% of children in the third standard were unable to read and write Kannada alphabets. In the Government Model Primary School in Gavipuram Guttahalli, 24% of children in the second standard were unable to read and write.

State-run government schools countrywide are known for their lackadaisical attitude and bad quality of education. The private schools in comparison seem to be doing well in terms of both the reputation they enjoy as centres of learning as well as satisfaction of parents of the children who attend these schools.

The notion that only the government can provide for the education of the poor children is erroneous. Even State governments seem to be realising this. In Delhi itself, the State Education Minister Rajkumar Chauhan privatised non-performing government schools (about 30 of the MCD’s worst run schools) (Delhi handbook, pg.39). The motive behind is to improve the quality of education through private-public partnership. Education vouchers can be given away to students, who may use them to choose which school to join.

 

This ‘Education Voucher’ system is one of the means, which could bring in quality in the education process and help the government schools compete with the private schools for quality education.

 

The government may concentrate on the output rather than the inputs, which go into the education system. Schools may be privatised or teachers may be hired on a contract basis to work in government schools instead of employing full-time teachers, who are not present even half the time.

The decision making must be further decentralised for the school principals to decide on matters related to the running of the school. If a sense of ownership and accountability is built into the system, the government schools can also impart good quality education. It is the lack of any incentive and indifference that drives most government schools to run in an unprofessional manner.

- Private schools for poor?, Sabith Khan, Deccan Herald, 04/03/2004, [C.ELDOC.N21.04mar04dch2.html]

  More Articles:

1. Government Inefficacy
- Learning In The Rural School:Of Chalk and Cheese, Sarojini Nayak, Humanscape, 01/04/1997, [J.ELDOC.N00.01apr97HUS.pdf]

2. Financing Education
- Education a Loser,
Jandhyala B.G.Tilak, Mainstream, 20/05/1995, [C.ELDOC.N00.20may95mai1.pdf]

3. DPEP Government schools
- An educative experience, Anita Rampal, Frontline, [C.ELDOC.N21.17aug01frn1.pdf]

4.Government Initiatives
- Uniform plan shoddy: Survey, S.A. Hemanth Kumar, Asian Age, 28/07/2003, [C.ELDOC.Education.280703.pdf]

5.Government Initiative Regulation of education
- Code for primary schools may come into force in June, Times of India, 26/03/2003, [C.ELDOC.Education.260303.pdf]

6. Government Schools, Teaching methodology
- Setting an example, Kishanrao Kulkarni, Deccan Herald, 29/11/2002 [C.ELDOC.Education.291102.pdf]

7. Teaching methodology Government Schools
- Project perfect, Prakash Burte, Deccan Herald, 23/06/2002, [C.ELDOC.N21.23Jun02dch1.htm]

8. DPEP Distance education
- An educative experience, Anita Rampal, Frontline, 17/08/01, [C.ELDOC.N21.17aug01frn1.pdf]

9. Government School
- This 12-year-old's classmates at school are a teacher, chowkidar, SUNETRA CHOUDHURY, INDIAN EXPRESS, 10 JULY 2001 [C.ELDOC.N21.10jul01ie1.pdf]

10. Corporal Punishment
- Punjab pupil dies after beating, Statesman, 14/07/2002, [C.ELDOC.N22.14jul02s1.pdf]

11. Quality of Education
- 72 Manipur schools draw blank in matric, Telegraph, 06/07/2002, [C.ELDOC.N22.6jul02tel1.pdf]

12. Govt and NGO joint venture
- BMC'S ADOPT-A-SCHOOL SCHEME GETS GOOD RESPONSE FROM NGOS AND CORPORATES, Times of India, 10/10/2001, [C.ELDOC.N22.10oct01toi1.pdf]

13. Quality of Education Government Schools
- Why Do Children Go to School?, Radhika Iyengar, Economic & Political Weekly, 26/06/2004, [J.ELDOC.N24.26jun04epw3.html]

14. Dropouts Teachers Government Schools
- Teacher attitude drove them away, Karthik Subramanian, Hindu, 06/10/2002, [C.ELDOC.Education.061002.pdf]

15. Government Schools, Teaching methodology- not read
- Setting an example, Kishanrao Kulkarni, Deccan Herald, 29/11/2002 [C.ELDOC.Education.291102.pdf]

16. Government schools Science education and HSTP
- A story retold, Hindu, Meena Menon, 30/06/2002, [C.ELDOC.N24.30june02h1.pdf]

17. Importance of Quality Education for the Development of the Nation, Azim Premji, LEGAL NEWS & VIEWS
01 APRIL 2004

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Reports:


1. Different Approaches for Achieving EFA - Indian Experience, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 01/01/2003, [R.N00.41]

- Quality in Education- pg 58

2. Elementary Education for the Poorest and other Deprived Groups: The Real Challenge of Universalisation, Jha, Jyotsna & Jhingran, Dhir, Centre for Policy Research, 01/06/2002, [R.N00.23]

- Government Schools- pg 42- 79 pg 229-255

3. Public Report on Basic Education in India, Oxford University Press, 01/01/1999, [N21.P.1],  

-- Inside the Class Room Ch 6 pg 68-82

4. Education For All - India Marches Ahead, Government of India, 01/11/2004, [R.N00.35],  

-- Ch 5 Meeting Quality Concerns, pg 33- 40

5. The Cosmos of Education Tracking the Indian Experience, Kohil, Mamta, Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education, 01/01/2003, [R.N00.24],  

-- Quality of Education- pg 11

*6. Quality Specifications in Schools, United Nations Children's Fund, 01/06/2004, [R.N21.29]

7. External Supervision Support for Enhancing Quality in Primary Education, Ushadevi, M D, Institute For Social and Economic Change, 01/01/2001, [R.N21.30]

8. Impact of School Quality on Earnings and Educational Returns - Evidence from a Low-Income Country, The, Bedi, Arjun Singh & Edwards, John H Y, 01/07/2001, [R.N22.1]

9. National Policy on Education 1986 - Programme of Action 1992, Government of India, [R.N00.33]

-    Ch 9 Navodaya Vidyalayas- pg 50-52

10. Ministry of Human Resource Development - Annual Report 2003-2004, Government of India, 01/01/2004, N00.30

- Govt schools- pg 105- 144

11. India Education Report, Govinda, R, Oxford University Press, 01/01/2002, [N21.G.1.R]

- Learning Conditions and Learner achievement in primary schools- A Review MS Yadav, Meenakshi Bhardwaj, Mona Sedwal Neeti Gaur Ch13 pg 167-189

12. Dimensions of Curriculum Change, JS Rajput, NCERT, 2002, Ch 5, 6, 7 Quality Paradigm, pg 36-47

13. Sixth All India Educational Survey, Main Report, NCERT, 1999

14. Rajkiya Mujoripai Udhavast Balpan (Marathi), Samarthan, 01/01/2005, [R.N20.16]

 15. A note on the common minimum programme- K Sriram,  BCPT, (Government Schools,  quality, govt NGO joint collaboration)

16. - The challenge to quality of education in the age of globalisation, Prof. Anil Sadgopal,  Report of the 2nd Open House on ‘Fundamental Right to Education: Whose Responsibility?’, Avehi Abacus, 12/03/2004  FRE, SSA, Common School System, Enrolment, Government Schools (good report), R. N21- Put CED Code

17. - Quality Issues in Elementary Education, Amarjeet Sinha, DFID, Learning conference 2004, MHRD and Azim Premji foundation- quality in education- R.N21.24

18. - Achieving Quality Standards in Elementary Education, Dr. Susanne Allmann, Learning conference 2004, MHRD and Azim Premji foundation- Quality in Education- R.N21.24

19. BCPT Meeting: Municipal School Education in Mumbai – A meeting of VOs, on 25/08/04 at SNDT Women’s University, Speakers: Farida Lambay, Ramesh Joshi, Trevor Miranda, Bina Sheth N21

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Books:

1.   Multichannel Learning: Connecting All to Education, Ed Anzalone, Steve, Education Development Center, Washington, 01/01/1995,[ B.N24.A1],

- “ Can New Technologies Lower the Barriers to Quality Education for all? Jan Visser Ch 3 pg 27-38

2. Equality, Quality and Quantity: The Elusive Triangle in Indian Education, Naik, J P, Allied Publishers, 05/09/1975, [B.N00.N4]

3. (O) Governance of School Education in India, Marmar Mukhopadhyay, 2001, Rs. 500 NIEPA

4. Improving Government Schools - What has been tried and what works, Kumar, Mandira and Sarangapani, Padma M, Books for Change, 2005, [B.N30.M2]

5. History of the Quality Debate, Krishna Kumar, Padma Sarangpani, pg 30, Education Dialogue 2:1 Monsoon 2004, [B.N00.E4]

6. Education and Democracy in India, Ch 7 Educational Quality and the New Economic Regime, Krishna Kumar pg 113, Manohar, 2004, ]B.N00.V1]

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Audiotapes:

1. BCPT Meeting: Municipal School Education in Mumbai – A meeting of VOs, on 25/08/04 at SNDT Women’s University, Speakers: Farida Lambay, Ramesh Joshi, Trevor Miranda, Bina Sheth N21 Tape 2- report available

2. Report of the 2nd Open House on ‘Fundamental Right to Education: Whose Responsibility?’ Avehi Abacus, 12/03/2004, R. N21 Tape 11 (1) N21 (report also available)