EDUCATION: The New Road Map

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The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has prepared a roadmap for complete revamp of J&K’s education sector and the state authorities as well are upbeat about it.

The state authorities believe that the implementation of road map – a document prepared by MHRD will be a key for complete revolution of education sector vis-à-vis improving academic standards, infrastructural up gradation besides addressing the dearth of teaching faculty in schools setup in cut off areas.

 

However, one wonders how this road map will make a difference in the prevailing education scenario when the implementation of already existing centrally sponsored state has taken a toss. Schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhiyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), Mid- Day Meals (MDM) were launched a decade ago in the state with an aim to take education to new heights. However, the successive regimes from past years have failed the schemes.

The road map was presented in the last week of September when MHRD’s secretary education Anil Swarup had visited Kashmir and Ladakh region to review implementation of the centrally sponsored schemes here.

Before his visit to Kashmir, Swarup had shot a letter to chief secretary of J&K state and expressed concern over poor performance of J&K state in academics as well as implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes.

Swarup expressed displeasure over poor performance of students in government schools and gave a reference of NAS where in only 57 percent students in class III achieved more than 50 percent marks in language and 68 percent children in Maths.

The union government has been pumping crores of rupees to J&K state under various schemes however on ground it was more or less no returns as state failed to utilize the different components of these schemes in proper way.

Despite having proper guidelines for all the centrally sponsored schemes, the J&K’s successive governments, due to fraudulent means, failed to complete construction on maximum buildings sanctioned under SSA and RMSA following which the union government during past years had denied any approval.

533 schools were approved from 2009 onwards, however out of these construction work on 274 schools is still pending. All 68 girls’ hostel buildings under RMSA are yet to be constructed. These hostels were sanctioned in the year 2012

Also, the J&K state has also failed to complete construction of 139 primary schools, 92 upper primary schools and 319 secondary schools. The schools were sanctioned as strengthening component of the existing schools under RMSA.

Same is the case with other schemes like Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalay in which the government is yet to take up construction of 30 girls’ hostels and complete ongoing work on 53 buildings.

Despite having various schemes functional in state, we still have students taking classes in the open sky. They don’t have toilet, drinking water and playground in their institutions. The centrally sponsored schemes were launched to address these issues in schools only.

The point to mention here is that all the schemes launched in J&K state had proper guidelines and set of rules for their implementation. Unfortunately, successive governments failed to utilize the schemes in the interests of the students. However, were used as a tool to garner vote banks by opening of new schools, construction of toilets and providing other facilities to already existing schools.

Every day we see media reports about schools particularly in rural areas, functioning without classrooms, teachers, toilet facilities and drinking water facilities. Every second government school is working in pathetic conditions despite of the fact  that government has different schemes to overcome these issues, ironically noting positives happens on grounds despite MHRD pumping in crores of rupees to J&K state for revamping education sector here. Now, beating drums of having a roadmap won’t make any difference in the working of education sector.

The road map prepared by MHRD has identified loopholes in the functioning of the department visa-vis implementation of different schemes and has suggested relevant interventions to overcome the lacunas.

It has stated that one of the challenges before the government was that only 589 primary schools have high pupil teacher ratio where number of students is more than (<30) and around 7.4 percent (1720 schools) elementary schools are single teacher schools.

The road map has suggested interventions like redeploying surplus teachers and reducing single teacher schools. It may be recalled that rationalization of schools was done to deploy surplus staff to teacher deficient schools and reduce single teacher schools.

MHRD has highlighted lacuna in every sector be it transfer policy, promotion of teachers, teacher vacancy and functioning of District Institute Education and Trainings (DIETs).

Also, as per the MHRD in its roadmap has highlighted loopholes in learning enhancement ad remedial education citing that only clases from 5th to 8th are covered under remedial classes. It has highlighted that J&K state has not yet taken learning enhancement of activities of class 9th and 10th for the year 2017-18. In the roadmap MHRD has suggested to increase the remedial teaching from class 3rd to 10th and ensure adequate training to teachers in order to provide remedial teachings.

The roadmap has also suggested that education department should go for school based recruitment in order to address deficiency of teachers in schools set up in rural areas.

The intervention to address dearth of teachers in schools has been suggested at a time when the successive regimes in past years violated the norms of RMSA scheme wherein eligible candidates having PG degrees were to be recruited as subject specific teachers on contractual basis with monthly salary of Rs 27160. But, the government instead promoted the in-service teachers as masters and posted them at their respective places.

Now, suggesting a roadmap to such a state is a futile exercise where people at the helm of affairs are least bothered about rules and guidelines but use these schemes to rehabilitate the vested interests.

The centrally sponsored schemes which are already under implementation process here have different components included in the scheme to improve the education sector here.

The irony is that the state government has failed to introduce quality interventions in academics however utilized whole amount (90 percent share from central government) on salary of teachers following which MHRD has curtailed its share from 90 percent to 60 percent.

It is right time for the government to reap benefits of the schemes instead of beating drums about the new roadmap. Mere having a road map won’t bring any revolution in the education sector. What matters is the conviction which is lacking in the department as is apparent from the performance of the department in implementation of the already existing schemes.

[“Source-greaterkashmir”]