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Ensuring Better Education in Rural Areas

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“In order to ensure teacher availability in backward district of Mewat, a separate teacher cadre has been created . Teachers recruited for Mewat will not be transferable to other parts of Haryana,” says Surina Rajan.  In conversation with Ankush Kumar of Elets News Network (ENN)

Pleas tell us about the initiatives taken by the Department of School Education to enhance the quality in education.
A major initiative taken in this respect is improving the quality of teachers by improving pre-service teacher training, in-service professional development and raising the eligibility bar for recruitment. Haryana had introduced Teacher Eligibility Test as an eligibility requirement for all categories of teachers long before other states did it or RTE made it mandatory. Other eligibility requirements have also been reviewed and enhanced. A condition of having consistent good academic record in the case of PGTs has been put in all the subjects for direct recruitment. Holding of qualifications of TET has been prescribed in the case of PGT as well, whereas there is no such condition in the rest of the country including Central Schools & Navodaya Vidyalya Schools. Service Rules have been modified and notified. Performance appraisal system of entire teaching and supervisory staff has been revamped linking it to their Job Description and outcomes generated during the academic session. Organizational restructuring is being done to bring required focus on learning outcomes of children. Teachers have been largely relieved of non-teaching duties. A robust MIS is being developed to ensure efficient data collection and management system.

Value based education seems to be buzz of the day. You are taking care of school education in Haryana. How do you make sure that every child gets the value based education at elementary level?
Teaching about positive human values i.e. respect, honest, compassion, care, humility and responsibility, improves the quality and education in schools and as such thrust on these creates value based education. In this regard beginning is made with a properly conducted school assembly in each school, celebration of national days in schools and activity modules specially geared toward value education through experiential learning. The text book design, presentation and content also enhance scope for value based education. It is specific to mention here that in the Morning Prayer regarding positive human values as detailed above, lectures are delivered by head of the institution as well as by teachers and students on regular basis. For improving the standard of education in the State, a School Teachers  Eligibility Test (STET) has been introduced for recruitment of all categories of school teachers and principals in government schools of Haryana.

 How effective has been the role of STET in imparting quality standard education?
It is specific to mention here that STET has been introduced in Haryana State in the year 2008 for all categories of teachers. After the enforcement of RTE the same has been brought in conformity with the guidelines dated 11.02.2011 prescribed by NCTE in the matter in respect of PRTs, TGTs and PGTs. This has ensured a minimum level of standard especially in respect of all categories of teachers.

 It has been said that IT can be leveraged to bring and provide quality education to large number of students in any part of the country. So what is the level of ICT implementation in school education in Haryana?
Presently, we are having ICT labs in nearly all (3,100) secondary and senior secondary schools which have been established with support of several partners like M/s Core Technologies, M/s Everonn, HCL and SANMEDIA. Majority of Lan have been established in Client- Server model with shared computing devices and use Open Source software. We have been able to increase the number of screens for benefit of students and reduce power consumption of labs. Ministry of IT has also awarded the state recognizing this as a Good Practice. I must also mention about few other initiatives here. We have started a programme named G-10 in ten schools of Gurgaon for upper primary classes for teaching of Science and Mathematics through a customized Learning Management Software. It is third year of implementation and it has made sustainable contribution to skill levels and competencies in the subjects of both the teacher and the student .The results will be documented and the programme would be adapted as required before being  taken to scale . Another programme is being implemented in two blocks of Kaithal and Kurukshetra districts where we have created three smart classrooms in primary schools and using multimedia content for teaching. While an end line survey of learning outcomes will give us a firm evidence of its impact, currently the element of joy in teaching – learning and enriched classroom transaction is very much obvious. We have plans to take this to selected schools of Mewat in the coming academic session.

In partnership with IBM and Shri Ram Foundation, a programme called KidSmart is already going on in Mewat for introducing very small kids (classes I-V) to interactive multimedia content with help of a guide. The Kidsmart classrooms are vibrant and filled with activity. Learning Links Foundation is another partner which has helped us introduce solar power based computer lab with Cloud Computing exposure to children. In NVEQF, Haryana is the state which has successfully implemented the scheme. One of the skills covered in this project is IT& ITES where children are being prepared during classes IX-XII for the entry level role in IT industry as they turn 18. We had some early success in the programme indicated through placement offers to children graduating in Level IV of NVEQF course.

 What is the work that you are doing for the admission of children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group for the society?
In Rule 134A of the Haryana School Education Rules, 2003, reservation for meritorious students belonging to Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) categories to the extent of 10 percent have been provided. The said rules have been framed under Section 24 of the Haryana School  Education Act, 1995 (Haryana Act No. 12 of 1999). Further, it has been provided in the said rule that the school shall charge fee from these students at the same rate as charged in Government schools. It is specific to mention here that all recognized schools of Haryana from Classes I to XII are bound to grant admission to the categories enumerated above. A detailed mechanism having participation of parents as well as private schools has been created to ensure accessibility to all willing children and transparency in allocation of children to schools with usage of an IT application.

Government has enacted and implemented the Right to Education Act in the right spirit towards providing quality elementary education to all. In your view what are the opportunities and challenges of RTE for both private and Public/ Government schools?
Haryana has a large and robust private school sector. We would not have been able to achieve the target of universal enrolment and retention without this active participation of private schools. Private schools have been extremely proactive in bringing children to classrooms as it also makes good business sense Government on its side has established schools in all neighborhoods to facilitate all parents with or without any financial means to enroll their children in schools. RTE has further helped us to allocate more budgetary resources as needed for the sector. Haryana was the first state to abolish fee and funds as required under RTE and has also compensated all the school for such loss of fee and funds through state government budget grants. We have consolidated our school system and moved towards better infrastructure, better pupil teacher ration and better classroom practices.

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