Education first: People living in rural India have high expectations

The Union Budget allocated ₹94,853.64 crore for education sector in 2019-20. Of the total ₹94,853. 64 crore education budget, ₹56,536.63 crore has been pegged for the school sector and rest ₹38,317.01 crore has been allocated to the higher education. The mid-day meal program has been allocated ₹11,000 crore. The Budget allocated the teachers training and adult education only ₹125 crore. While the numbers are impressive, but rural India wants more

Daya SagarDaya Sagar   12 July 2019 6:08 AM GMT

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Education first: People living in rural India have high expectations

Karan and Arjun, both five, live in Ratoli village in Sitapur district, just 90 kms from Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow. When we visited the village, they were playing when they should have been in the school.

They said their school is on the other side of the river and there is no bridge. This is the reason why children living in this village are not able to go to their school.

The recent Annual Status of Education Report revealed that 20% primary school children and 36% higher secondary school children are not able to complete their education. They had conducted a survey in 596 districts and visited 16,000 government school. They spoke to 3.5 lakh families living in rural India.

Here are a few suggestions that rural India has from the new education minister.

1. Bridge the Gap

Parents usually don't send their children to school. There is a gap between school management and parents, which is why children are absent from schools. When the management is active, children do attend schools.

The report also mentioned that after the Right to Education Act, number of enrollments in schools went up, but was still not as desired. The biggest reason is poverty. Though education is free and mid-day meal scheme is on, but most of the families make their children work as they manage to earn Rs 150-200, a big amount for them.

Shreyans studies in class 6 in a school in Bayara village, Sant Kabir Nagar village, Uttar Pradesh. He said:"Though schools give mid-day meals, but we still have to feed them at night. We can't afford to keep laborers and pay them Rs 200-300. We have to hire children."

2. They should get books in time, toilets should be clean

There are no basic facilities at primary and secondary schools. Most of the children sit on floors and study. In many schools, toilets are missing. Students, especially girls, suffer because of this and they have to quit school. "The school starts in April, but the students get books only in August-September. Sometimes students don't get books till December," said a school principal.

3. Attendance of teachers should be ensured

A study, conducted jointly by ASSOCHAM and Resurgent India, notes that while states have managed to transform their performance in delivering higher education, they are facing key challenges in correcting the demand and supply gap of teachers and quality education.

Scarcity of duly qualified teachers and lack of proper school infrastructure are a far cry for children in government schools. Moreover, appointed teachers do not turn up on time.

These primary teachers work in collusion between BASA office and section education officer. They do not attend school, but their attendance gets marked regularly. It is necessary to make use of technology to report regular presence of teachers.

4. Growth of students should be correlated with growth of the teachers

A scale model should be set up in primary schools that could regularly monitor growth of school-going kids. Their progress report should be correlated with the progress of the teachers. In a bid to improve their performance, teachers will work hard that will assist in improving growth of the students.

Only 44.2%Class 5 students studying in government schools can read class 2 level texts, according to the latest Annual Status of Education (ASER) report 2018. Similarly, 27%Class 8 students can't read class 2 level texts.

"System of Shishu(pre-nursery) has been put to end in government schools. Kids are directly enrolled in class 1. It is expected that they learn alphabets in Anganwadi. We can't even fail kids. It's against government rules. Besides, many primary teachers are lethargic. They treat it as a job," said a primary school teacher.

In order to improve quality of education in villages, it is necessary to provide them practical knowledge and not just bookish learning. Besides, experimental and behavioural knowledge should also be imparted to them.

5. Proper arrangements for training of teachers

Under the RTE, the basic minimum qualification for those teaching classes 1 to 8 is a Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed), a four-year course. For teaching classes beyond that, a B.Ed degree is mandatory. Certificates of BTC and TET are equally essential.

Nearly 30% of all government school teachers (between classes 1 and 8) are untrained. They do not have required teaching qualifications as mandated under the Right to Education Act (RTE), shows government data.

One of the primary school teachers told Gaon Connection that teachers are given departmental trainings every year. But it is a mere formality. He said, "Education sector should perform new experimental pertaining to studies. In which, attendance of teachers should be made mandatory. Teachers should take these training sessions seriously in bid to sustain interests of both teachers and students in studies."

6.Transparency in teachers' appointments

Education sector should look after transparency in appointing teachers. Besides, they should also monitor and evaluate usefulness of the teachers. Retired professor and academician Dr Shiv BalakMisra said, "In every five years, external agencies should be appointed to test teachers. They should be re-appointed only if the clear the test. Help of local village community should also be sought for evaluation of teachers. This will help teachers to understand their responsibilities towards students."

He added, "Commissioner Cadre should be set up in order to appoint teachers. At present, only district cadre are in operation which should be replaced by circle cadre. Teachers, at present, live in nearby cities from school. For that reason, it is very normal for them to come over late and leave early. Besides, transfer-posting has a key role to play in education sector. But circle cadre will impose significant limitations on them."

7. Free teachers of any other duties

"Onus of surveys or any other government associated work is given to all primary teachers. Besides,mid-day meal and managing committees have increased added burden of paper work. One or two teachers remain engaged in paper works of the department. Moreover, there is an acute shortage of primary teachers. In that manner, it affects education of the students," said one of the primary school teachers in Sant Kabir Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

He added, "Burden of paper work on teachers should be minimized or at least a clerk should be appointed in primary and pre-secondary schools."

8. Increase funds for Education sector

India spends a small margin of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education.While total expenditure by central and state governments on education was 3.8% of GDP in 2014, it has increased to 4.6% now.

On the contrary, South Africa and Brazil spend 6% of GDP in education sector. It is necessary that government may increase funds for education sector in order to boost quality education for the students.

9. Equality in schools

Promoting equality for all employees should be core focus for all schools. Cooks and instructors are as equally important as any teacher of the school. These cooks and instructors get very less salary. Moreover, it does not roll up in due time.

"Besides making food for kids I have to look after cleanliness of the school. I come to school at 7 in the morning and manage to finish all work only after 3 in the late afternoon. A big part of the day gets spend in school works. My salary is so less (Rs 1,000 per month) even then, I do not get my salary on time," said Suneeta, cook in a primary school of Rautpar village in Sant Kabir Nagar district.

She added, "I receive salary once in four-five months. It comes directly into Pradhan's account. I have to ask him often if salary has come or not. Sometimes I have to borrow money from the teachers."

10. Politicians, officials and primary teachers should enroll their kids in government schools to discard high level of distrust in parents

Any person who has some capacity and adequate finances sends his child/ children to elite and semi-elite primary schools. It is a general belief that government schools offer poor quality education. In bid to alter this generic belief primary school teachers, government officials and politicians should enrol their kids in government schools. It will also boost up quality education in these schools. Then primary teachers will be attentive and vigilant in teaching. Then they will make sure to maintain quality education because their kids too will be attending those classes.

"Changes in any fields are directly dependent on politicians and bureaucrats. They do not look after facilities in government schools because their kids do not study in there," said a volunteer working in education sector.


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