Friday, January 24, 2014

Most government schools have lost credibility: Manish Sisodia

Most government schools have lost credibility: Manish Sisodia

Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN Jan 5, 2014, 05.20AM IST

The newly-appointed education minister, Manish Sisodia, has the unenviable task of 'fixing' Delhi's education systems-lower and higher, public and private. Just a week into the job, he has met both sets of officials for status updates, set some targets and is reviewing other areas. He discusses existing provisions and roadmaps for the future with TOI.
Of all the portfolios you are handling, why is education priority?
We're addressing social and governance problems. Without strengthening education, you can't do anything. What we are engaged in now is like flood relief-emergency. The ultimate solutions can come only from education. It's the government's priority.
If after 20 years of education, people don't know how to treat their neighbours and colleagues, who's responsible?
I know about five lakh children enroll at the entry level every year; 2.65 lakh complete school education. Almost 50% drop out. We have to see what's going wrong. They are somehow retained till class five. Education has been commercialized and government schools-barring a few-have lost credibility.
If I'm sending my kids to a government school, apart from academics I'll demand basic things-working toilets, water, hygiene. The facilities have to be of good quality. Government schemes have to be delivered, and in innovative ways.
Do you have a plan to implement the RTE Act 2009? Many of these aspects are already covered by it.
We will have a roadmap.
Schools built on public-private-partnership model are the new thing...
Has it already happened?
Some applications have already been vetted but they are yet to be built. Many RTE activists are resisting PPPs. What's your stand?
I still have to study this. Frankly, I don't have any opinion on it but I would like it if people directly control the schools rather than any private company.
Are any changes expected in the new guidelines for nursery admissions?
No. In fact, these are to be strictly implemented. I'll fix up a helpline which will be almost like complaining directly to me. There could be some issues but this is the best way to do it.
Private schools feel their autonomy is threatened...
School-education is not a matter of profit-making but of nation-building. That's why we in India have schools run by trusts not companies. The basic concept of education in India is charity and social uplift. That has to be preserved.
You've spoken of fee-regulation in private schools...
The process has to be transparent and the way to make them transparent is some sort of fee-regulation.
What are your plans for higher education?
Only 90,000 of more than 2.65 lakh school graduates get admission in Delhi institutions. I've asked my department to create a roadmap for the remaining 1.75 lakh.
The previous government announced reservation for Delhiites in colleges receiving grants from the Delhi government. Are you going to retain this?
They announced but didn't act on it. To implement, you have to come to an arrangement with Delhi University and Ministry of Human Resource Development. We'll have to enforce it. If people of Delhi are funding something, shouldn't they benefit from it? We'll get it done because Delhi is paying for it.
Are you also considering opening new colleges?
IP University is running 110 colleges. We can't just start them, we need quality. Ambedkar University is brilliant. It's non-affiliating but it's possible to change that-change the act.

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