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“Value-based education in schools is need of the hour”

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We try to ensure that value based education is incorporated into the chapters in an interesting way so that the children learn it at every step of their schooling, says Madhya Pradesh Rajya Shiksha Kendra Commissioner-cum-Director Rashmi Arun Shami in an interview with Mohd Ujaley

Value based education seems to be buzz of the day. You are taking care of elementary education in Madhya Pradesh. How do you make sure that every child gets the value based education at elementary level?

We strongly believe that education should not only be learning concept. Fundamentally, it should be ensuring values of the constitution imparted to all children and off course value based education is very important if we want to have good citizens. So in our entire curriculum, we try to ensure that value based education is incorporated into the chapters in the interesting way so that the children learn it at every step of their schooling.

It has been said that IT can be leveraged to bring and provide quality education to large number of students. So what is the level of ICT implementation in school education in Madhya Pradesh?

The challenge for the government is that most of our schools are in remote areas so in order to ensure good quality; we have to go for technology. We are starting smart classes, where we will have system of networking, a good teacher from any particular school will be addressing students of other schools which are network connected.

We also have system called head-start which is also working very well, at the same time; we are also looking at certain other technology like satellite based education for more schools so that the problem of quality of teachers and lack of good resource person is addressed.

What initiatives the Department of School Education is taking to enhance the quality in education?

Earlier, government priority was enrollment, which was rightly required but now access is nearly universalized therefore emphasis is now on quality. We are making sure that we have more and more training programme for our teachers where we build the capacity of the teachers in three ways – first, we make sure that they understand well the curriculum, second, we try to build their capacity in terms of class room transaction like how to do their job better and three, we focus on leadership quality for our principle and head teachers so that they run the institution in better way. All these are going on and there will be greater emphasis on all of these in coming years.

What was the major initiative your department took last year and what are the future plans for school education in the state?

In 2012, a lot of work has been done but most interesting was the direction of Chief Minister to us that we must ensure quality in education as priority. So we ensured that all government schools improve their quality. Now in every district Academic Improvement Plan is being made by district themselves, based on their needs. We have begun implementing it. So now they will take initiatives based on their requirements and will make sure that results are delivered.

Other thing that we have done is that we have started life skills education for adolescent girls. With UNICEF, we have started MEENA RADIO; all adolescent girls listen to this programme in school for 15 minutes and for next 15 minutes they discuss content of the programme. It has received good response from adolescent girls. There are also lots of programmes for school children so that their interest is maintained in academics.

Although Right to Education Act has come into effect, private schools have not responded the way government has expected. Does that worry you?

Madhya Pradesh can safely take great pride in RTE because as compared to the rest of the country, our private schools have been very generous. We are the only state in the country which got 138,000 enrollments last year and equal numbers of students have been enrolled in our private schools in current year. So we can be proud of our private schools.

However I understand that there are problem in some schools, particularly in English medium schools because they insist upon speaking English in school and children from disadvantage background naturally have problem of integration in initial few months.

But most of the schools, I know have made special effort to ensure that children feel comfortable and at times they do arrange extra classes for them to understand thing better. Above all, it is just a beginning for RTE. I am sure down the line we will be able to address this problem too.

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