There will be difficulty in the implementation of the RTE Act initially, but things will streamline and will yield expected result soon, says Rashmi Arun Shami, Commissioner-cum-Director, Rajya Shiksha Kendra (RSK) & Ex-Officio Secretary School Education, Government of Madhya Pradesh, in conversation with Mohd Ujaley
How do you ensure that every child gets value-based education from the elementary level?
We strongly believe that education should not be only learning concepts. Fundamentally, it should be ensuring that the values of the constitution are imparted to all children. Value-based education is very important if we want to have good citizens. Therefore, we try to incorporate it in our curriculum in an interesting way so that the children learn it at every step of their schooling.
Please tell us about the level of implementation of ICT in MP’s schools.
Since most of the schools are in remote areas, we have to adopt technology in order to ensure quality. We are starting smart classes where a good teacher from a school will address students of other schools which will be network connected. We also have a system called head start which is also working very well.
We are also looking at other technologies like satellite-based education for schools so that the shortage of quality teachers and lack of good resources is addressed.
What initiatives are you taking to enhance the quality of education?
Earlier, the government’s priority was enrollment, but now, access is nearly universalised. Therefore, the emphasis now is on quality. We are making sure that we have more and more training programmes for our teachers’ capacity building. In these programmes, we will first make sure that they understand the curriculum well; second, we will try to build their capacity in terms of interaction in classroom; and lastly, develop leadership quality in our principals and head teachers so that they can run the institutions in a better way.
What was the major initiative your department took last year and what are the future plans for school education in Madhya Pradesh?
A lot of work was done in this regard in 2012. The most interesting was the Chief Minister’s direction to us to ensure quality in education. Therefore, we ensured that all government schools improve their quality. Now, every district is working on its own academic improvement plan based on its needs. We are implementing it from this year onward. They will take initiatives based on their
requirement while also ensuring delivery of results.
We have also started life skills education for adolescent girls. We have started Meena Radio with UNICEF that all adolescent girls listen to in school for 15 minutes and discuss the content of the programme in the next 15 minutes. There are also a lot of programmes for school children that are aimed at keeping up their interest in academics.
Although the Right to Education Act has come into effect, the private schools have not responded the way the government expected. Does that worry you?
Madhya Pradesh can 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 an enrollment of 1,38,000 last year, and an equal number of students have been enrolled in our private schools too in the current year.
I understand that there are problems in some schools, particularly in English medium schools, because they insist on speaking English in the school and children from disadvantaged backgrounds face problems in integrating in the initial few months. We have made special efforts to ensure that children feel comfortable in the schools and at times, arrange extra classes for them to understand things better.