Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pedagogy in the time of flux

Pedagogy in the time of flux

Aarti Dhar
Sans childhood: Though in school uniform, these girls in Chhattisgarh engage in domestic work rather than play after study hours. Photo: V. Sudershan
Sans childhood: Though in school uniform, these girls in Chhattisgarh engage in domestic work rather than play after study hours. Photo: V. Sudershan
Schools in Naxal-affected areas should have special inputs for counselling and empowerment, says Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan's Joint Review Mission
The Joint Review Mission on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has asked Chhattisgarh to develop a separate plan for Left Wing Extremist (LWE) areas which poses a serious challenge to the implementation of universal elementary education.
The States should develop separate plans for Naxalite-affected areas, taking into account the ground situation and the solutions possible. This could be a comprehensive plan for elementary education which will keep in mind all existing and possible resources and learnings from other conflict areas within and outside the country, the Fifteenth Joint Review Mission (JRM) has said in its report.
While the JRM team did not visit any LWE affected block or district, it was of the view that these schools should have special inputs on counselling and empowerment so as to allow children to get out of trauma and be prepared to face life with greater strength. A perusal of international literature on children in conflict areas would help, the report said.
Quoting the State figures, the report says that 910 habitations covering 3,675 children are not eligible for primary schools and 1,295 habitations covering 4,369 children according to state neighbourhood and availability of minimum student norm were also not eligible for primary schools. “These habitations are largely concentrated in parts of Bijapur, Bastar, Dantewara and Narayanpur districts, which also happen to be LWE affected areas.”
The presence of the LWE affecting seven districts severely impacts elementary education in these remote areas. The only intervention by the State is to run residential schools in temporary structures known as porta cabin (pre-fabricated bamboo structures). This is working well but this alone is not enough. No socio-psycho counselling is being provided to children from these areas either in the porta cabin or elsewhere, the report points out.
A clear concept note explaining the approach and strategy for residential and non-residential special training centres should be developed by the State that should also outline a clear mechanism for coordination between the Centre and the regular school where the child has been admitted. The centre instructors need to be oriented on curricular approaches, pedagogy and CCE practices on the same lines as teachers so that the continuity is maintained and mainstreaming is successful. This should also include the strategy for mainstreaming orphaned or children in distress. “Given the background of children, it would be important to include counselling support and some teaching-learning experiences on social or life skills.”
Though the school enrolment rate in the State is over 95 per cent, there are significant variations between different districts. Though the total enrolment ratio has risen by 1.65 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11, six of the 18 districts – Bilaspur, Dantewada, Dhamtari, Durg, Jashpur, Kanker and Koriya -- show a decline in enrolment. Bilaspur, Dantewada, Dhamtari, Durg and Jashpur also show a reduction in the number of schools. “The decline in the number of schools and enrolment as well as net enrolment rates is easy to explain in LWE areas where a large number of schools have been closed, but the same is not true for other parts. The State should analyse and understand the issue better, so as to explain the decline adequately and take corrective measures.”
The State has a backlog of 40,000 untrained teachers who it intends to train through distance mode. Considering the severe limitations of the distance mode to train teachers who have never been trained, the Joint Review Mission is concerned and has impressed upon the State to re-consider this strategy, as this had implications for the quality of education being provided in schools largely being attended by children from marginalised communities.
Another major challenge faced by Chhattisgarh relates to the understanding of equity and discrimination issues. Gender related interventions are largely confined to access and supply-oriented rather than aspects of creating a critical understanding of gender roles and socialisation, the HRM report said.
The report further said that delays continue to be there in the initiation and completion of civil works projects in the State. This was attributed in part to the conflict in LWE areas and partly due to delay in the receipt of funds from the Centre.

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