Thursday, January 23, 2014

New GR sparks ratio-nal debate

City schools expected to have a student-teacher ratio of 30:1 as per recent State mandate; some agree, others say they need more time and funding
Ketaki Latkar
Posted On Monday, April 15, 2013 at 08:58:14 AM

Till now, the PTR for state schools has been 40:1, with no monitoring to check for breaches

As city schools wind up the ongoing academic year and move on to the next, many are now facing a new conundrum — a limbo caused by the introduction of a recent Government Resolution (GR) that mandates a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 30:1. Till now, the PTR for schools across the state has been 40:1, and there was no monitoring to check for breaches, if any.

In the wake of debatable learning outcomes across state schools, new legislative mandates in the form of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, and the need to improve the quality of education at the school level, the State came out with the GR afortnight ago.

Suman Shinde, deputy director of Education, Pune division, told Mirror, “Ensuring that the PTR be 30:1 has come as an aftermath of crammed classrooms causing a loss of the teacher-student connect. A large number of students in classrooms can deter teachers’ delivery skills, and assimilation levels in children.

To create a more concentrated learning atmosphere, and enable a detailed observation of a child’s progress, and shortcomings in teachers, this mandate is ideal.” However, while some schools agree whole-heartedly, others say they need more time, funds and infrastructure to carry out the GR.

Principal of Shamrao Kalmadi School Kamini Saxena said, “Most Secondary School Certificate (SSC) schools including ours have a PTR of 60:1. Now, we either have to recruit teachers or increase the number of divisions. For both, we need funds and planning.”

According to Saxena, hiking fees is risky because they could be ridiculed on grounds of making up for the 25 per cent reservation quota for the underprivileged under RTE. She added, “Such GRs cannot be incorporated overnight; it has to be an informed, planned and gradual change over at least three to four years.” Principal of the Army Public School, Pune Vinita Punekar said, “Our PTR is around 45:1. Despite the fact that I will have to bring about some radical changes, I agree with the GR, as it is in the best interests of quality teaching and improved learning.”

To abide by the government’s Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system, says Punekar, a revision of PTR was necessary. “I am opposed to introducing two teachers in the same class, with one of them playing the class-mother, as a solution to the problem.

It would be better to expand and improve infrastructure and introduce more divisions to strike the ratio,” she stressed. Shilpa Solanki, principal of the Orchid School, agreed, saying, “The mandate is a welcome change but economic considerations must be understood.

Our school has a 15:1 PTR and but not all schools are privileged or have funds.“ SN Dange, principal of the Pune Municipal Corporation-run (PMC) Savitribai Phule School in Bhavani Peth, said, “In my school, PTR is about 35:1. For a marginal surplus of 5-10 students, recruiting new teachers or adding divisions is impractical.

The government should take social and economic conditions of schools into consideration.” Pradip Dhumal, chairperson of the PMC Education Board said, “We will abide by the GR . We plan on adding 100 more divisions across PMC-run schools. A detailed report of the PTR in all 319 civic body-run schools and the required number of new divisions is in process.” ►   SSC schools like ours have a PTR of 60:1. Now, we either have to recruit more teachers or increase divisions. For both options, we need funds and planning

-   Kamini Saxena, Shamrao Kalmadi School
►   Our PTR is about 35:1. For 5-10 more students, recruiting teachers or adding divisions is impractical. The government should consider socio-economic conditions of schools

-   S N Dange, Principal, Savitribai Phule School

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