Sunday, March 26, 2023

Government schools struggling with basic facilities 


By Satyavan Saurabh

In the last three decades, India has worked hard to build a school in every village. Walk into any community, no matter how remote, and you’ll likely see a government school. With nearly 11 lakh primary schools, we have the largest government school system in the world. School enrollment is close to universal, regardless of gender, race, or religion. In a country as vast as ours and with its complex geographical areas, this is a huge achievement.

Often, teachers and students come to school, and there is a real effort to educate. Schools usually have adequate classrooms, potable water, and toilets for boys and girls – although maintenance is a challenge given the inadequate maintenance budget. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) recently submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on the demand for grants for school education. In this report, the committee has made various observations on the condition of government schools in India. What is the status of government schools? Let’s know.

Almost half of the government schools in the country do not have electricity or playgrounds. Most of them do not have proper basic facilities like classrooms, blackboards, drinking water, toilets, and sanitation facilities. The school environment is so suffocating that students are forbidden to attend classes, which is why the dropout rate is also high. The proposals made by the School Education Department saw a cut in the budgetary allocation. Slow progress is being made in the construction of classrooms, laboratories, and libraries to strengthen government higher secondary schools.

India is also dealing with a scenario of significant teacher vacancies, which is around 60-70 percent in some states. Professional development of teachers in government schools is a very weak area. Almost half of the regular teacher vacancies are filled by a guest or ad-hoc teachers. About 95% of teacher education is in private hands and most of them are substandard. The absence of teachers in these schools is very high. Even though they are paid much higher salaries than the teachers of private schools, they betray the government and fail to discharge their duties as teachers. And sadly, no action is being taken to stop it.

Barely 15% of the schools can be said to be RTE compliant. Section 29 of the RTI lays down the right to education for every child. No government school is complying with this, including elite schools. Education department officials, being ‘managed’, file false reports about the working conditions of schools. Political interference and patronage shield the corrupt and the incompetent. People feel that there are not enough teachers in government schools, or that the schools are not functioning regularly. They get carried away by the notions of a branded private school, even if it doesn’t have good teachers. Also, private schools brand themselves as the English medium and this is most important for children’s education.

Growing business of private schools and closing of government schools is a matter of serious concern for uniform education in the country, for example in a developed state like Haryana, the two big political parties of the country, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, have almost equalized in the last 20 years. Governments have been formed, but even today government schools in the state are far from basic facilities. The government here has just brought the Chirag scheme to end government school education. If you teach children in government schools, then you have to pay 500 ₹, if you teach in private, the government will pay 1100 ₹ for your child’s fees.

Who is promoting this? Government school education or private? It simply means that the government believes that they are not able to provide good education and the private ones are better than them? But at the time of elections, promises are made to the public for good education, but the statistics of the state’s schools show that the government schools are not being given much attention, due to which the enrollment of students is decreasing, and finally Schools are closed due to low enrollment.

As per Pratham’s report, parents prefer private schools for boys’ education while girls are sent to government schools to get basic education primarily. The report noted that parents exhibit a unique bias when it comes to selecting schools for their children. The report shows that parents are more likely to choose a private school when choosing a school for boys, while government schools are the primary choice of parents when it comes to girls’ education.

The learning crisis is illustrated by the fact that nearly half of Grade 5 children in rural India cannot solve simple two-digit subtraction problems, compared to 67 percent of Class 8 children in public schools with 50 percent of math-based assessment ability. score less than For a very long time, there have been two types of models of education in the country: one for the class and the other for the masses. The AAP government in Delhi tried to bridge this gap.

Its approach stems from the belief that quality education is a necessity, not a luxury. Therefore, it created a model that essentially has five major components and is supported by about 25% of the state budget. The main component of the model is; Change of school infrastructure, the training of teachers and principals, engaging with the community by restructuring School Management Committees (SMCs), curriculum reforms in teaching-learning, and no fee hike in private schools.

The increasing level of enrollment in government schools provides an opportunity for the central as well as state governments to ensure the retention of students. Schools should identify children who are lagging and run basic revision and bridge programs to strengthen their reading, writing, arithmetic, and comprehension skills at their own pace. The Nipun Bharat initiative is a reassuring step in this direction.

Improvement in school infrastructure is the need of the hour, with a special focus on Information and Communication Technology. There is a severe shortage of teachers in government schools in India. This gap needs to be filled to maintain the prescribed student-teacher ratio in these schools. Flexible rescheduling of academic timetables and exploring options in collaboration with schools, teachers, and parents to provide access to education to a large section of students. Preference will be given to underprivileged students who do not have access to e-learning.

The change in government schools gives a clear indication of the expectations of the people about the role of the state in imparting education. Improvement of perceptions of state-run schooling systems in India as well as especially of parents and children requires more effort on the part of all the governments in charge of education – both at the state and central level.

(Author is a research scholar, poet, independent journalist and columnist. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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