Friday, April 19, 2013

Need more infrastructure, teachers: Dileep Ranjekar

Need more infrastructure, teachers: Dileep Ranjekar

Sruthy Susan Ullas, TNN Aug 19, 2012, 05.25AM IST

With the R Govinda committee report suggesting an overhaul in the education system, Dileep Ranjekar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation, talks about what it could mean for children.
The National Education Commission recommended the 5+3+2+2 system in the 1960s. What took Karnataka so long to wake up to it?

We can keep going back to several policy and intent documents from India's independence - beginning from the dream of a society that the Constitution articulated in 1950 to the National Policy for Education in 1986 (with marginal amendments in 1992) to the National Curriculum Framework 2005. It is not the issue of just Karnataka, these are national issues.
Finally, a committee has suggested implementing the 5+3+2+2 system...
The Right to Education Act requires states to provide education till Class 8. It does not state where the 8th standard should be placed. There are 18,573 government higher primary schools with classes up to the 7th standard and there would be a problem of providing access to 8th standard in these schools. Few people would send a child to high school just to complete class 8. Recent studies on transition losses between class 7 and 8 show that losses are about 3% - 4%. If the 8th standard is provided in the small school, arguably part of this loss can be reduced.
How will this benefit students and the education system in Karnataka? Also, what could be the disadvantages?
Unless schools and the education system are suitably equipped to ensure wholehearted and meaningful implementation of the recommendations, things will not change on the ground. Various studies suggest a significant lag in the learning levels of children across schools and classes. Illustratively, at the end of Class VII, if most children have learning levels that belong to class III, whether we switch to 5 +3 or 3 +5 or do anything else, it will make no difference.
No other state in India, except for Karnataka, has a PU system now. Do you agree with the committee's observation that children are in an "unsettled state" in PU? Was the lecturers' lobby a reason for PU continuing for so long?
While Karnataka is the only state with a separate PU board for the class 12 exams , this board is under the primary and secondary school department and not under the university system. It is primarily due to some historical issues. I don't think there is any unsettled state - it is just that in most states, there are board exams in 10th standard as well as in 12th standard. It is the 12th standard exam that matters for further professional education admission. Therefore, there is a sound case to discontinue 10th standard board examination except where students are quitting education and need a certification. More than 65% of PU colleges in the state are private institutions.
What are the challenges in implementing this report?
Additional infrastructure and redeployment of teachers. Statistics indicate there's a need for 22,718 additional rooms and 14,958 teachers in government schools. As of now, teacher requirement will be met through rational deployment but that's easier said than done. It's the reason North East Karnataka Schools have a Pupil Teacher Ratio that is much adverse than the rest of the state (not too many teachers want to go there) and cities have a far more favourable PTR.

The approximate financial implication for construction of 22,718 additional rooms alone at the cost of Rs 5.45 lakh per room will be Rs 1,238.13 crore.
NCTE / RTE norms specify that teachers at HPS be graduate / trained teachers. As of now, 1,12,965 teachers who are undergraduates need a 'higher level of training in the specific areas' . Such training is to be organized through sandwich, short-term , subject refresher courses, keeping in view the needs of 8th standard subjects.
If the state decides to adopt the recommendations , it will have to be ready to allocate adequate financial resources and also bring in qualitative implementation rigour in enhancing the quality of teachers who would now deal with 8th standard in a higher primary school.

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