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Modernizing Government Schools Of Delhi

After decades of negligence and staying a complex governance subject in India, education is that one sector in which the AAP government is trying hard to make a mark in Delhi. They are working hard so that the students of their state are not left behind, so they excel in life when they graduate from schools.

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Albert Einstein once said, ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.’

The Delhi government has allocated a large chunk of its budget to education in these three years since it has come to power. It has allocated 26% of its state budget to education this year, earmarking Rs 13997 crore in total. This remains higher than most states in the country and yet over the last budget allocation - 23.5% - made by the government.

"Improving the quality of education, introducing pre-school learning classes in existing schools, making learning interesting with fun and integrating education with sports activities are some of the thrust areas of the government. Our government is also focused on improvement of skill development programmes, the creation of more academic opportunities in higher education, incentivizing higher education through scholarships to students and promotion of research and development activities," he said on another occasion. 

Last year, education minister Sisodia had said that they had looked at infrastructure in the first year, and teacher training in their second, and in their third year, their focus would be on creative learning methods.

On taking notes on how many promises have been fulfilled by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government in the Education sector, following is a brief report. 

Infrastructure

The AAP government is constructing “new” classrooms in existing government schools to increase enrolment after it was unable to find land to build 500 ‘new’ schools it promised three years ago.

Atishi Marlena, advisor to education minister Manish Sisodia said “We constructed 8,000 new classrooms. One school has about 80 classrooms, so effectively there are 100 new schools. Some new schools have been constructed. In 2014-15 there were 1,007 schools and now we have 1,024.” 

She said they found 29 plots for new schools and sanctioned another 10,000 classrooms.

Few other amenities have been provided to these schools, Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya on Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg has become the first Delhi government school to boast of audio-visual teaching aids, projectors in classrooms, besides a swanky new building with all conveniences.

Sisodia also informed that the government wants to install around 1.2 lakh CCTV cameras across its schools - each with around 150-200 - which will allow parents to watch their kids through live stream. The government has allocated Rs 175 crore estimates the amount to this end.

"The ambiance in the school was not at all like this till a year ago," Anuj, who has opted for science in one of the government schools. "Our school was earlier a rundown building, untidy and known for rowdyism. All that has changed."

But the government teachers’ association challenged the claims. General secretary Ajay Veer Yadav claimed “Rooms have been constructed but in an unplanned way to increase the number of classrooms. Many schools still run from tin sheds.”


Quality of Education

When it comes to Quality Education, the growth is gradual. The pass percentage of students in Delhi govt schools has increased by 2.37, touching 90.64 percent in 2018. They may have performed better than private schools for the second year in the row, but this isn’t the first time that we have seen such a trend. On the other hand, Over 85,000 students from municipal and government institutions dropped out of the school system in the 2016-17 academic session.

Over 900 kids chose government schools over private ones in 2017. Also, Mega Parent Teacher Meeting was held in over 1000 Government Schools in Delhi. But these schools are faced with the crisis of shortage of permanent school teachers since a long time which needs urgent attention. An adequate student-teacher ratio is the cornerstone of quality teaching-learning process and without the appointment of a sufficient number of teachers in place, education is bound to suffer.

The number of government schools in the list of top 100 CBSE schools of Delhi region has come down to 7 in 2016 from 10 in 2009 when the Congress was in power.

A psychometric career assessment test, followed by one-on-one guidance/ counseling from an Educational and Vocational Guidance Counsellor (EVGC) was introduced for four lakh students studying in Class 10, 11 and 12 of around 1,100 Delhi government schools in 2017.

Delhi government initiated the fourth category of government schools with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia inaugurating the first of the five ‘Schools of Excellence’ in Sector 22, which has a four-storied building sprawling across 6,050 sqm with 34 classrooms, three laboratories, a multi-purpose hall, an art room, a library and a computer room. Four other such schools — one each in Khichripur, Rohini Sector 17, Kalkaji and Phase II JJ Colony in Madanpur Khadar — have been proposed.

45-minute ‘Happiness classes’ have also been introduced recently.  

Teachers’  Training

The government had sent a group of principals and teachers to Cambridge University and IIM Ahmedabad. Of the over Rs 10,000 crore the government allocated for education in the 2016 budget, Rs 102 crore was for training. They salaries have also been doubled. The government has also relieved teachers of many administrative duties that they were earlier required to perform. An estate manager was appointed in each school, so that principals could focus on academics, instead of worrying about getting toilets cleaned and fans repaired. Additionally, the government has invested in high-quality teacher education and encouraged an environment that promotes academic discourse. This has motivated a large section of teachers and principals and has mobilized them to work towards the government's goals. 

But experts had a word of caution. “Teachers need training in our own context. I am not sure if somebody in Cambridge can understand problems specific to our schools and society. It sounds good but will it actually help students?” said Poonam Batra, who teaches at a department of education, Delhi University.

Recruitment

The Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) conducted exams to fill 5,000 teaching posts out of which 2,500 joined various schools, said a government official. Basically, The Delhi government is struggling with the hiring of teachers. 

After being asked about this ongoing crisis the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education told the High Court that there had been a shortage of more than 27,000 regular teachers at government schools. It was also reported that initially there were 64,263 regular posts sanctioned for teachers out of which only 38,926 have been filled as on April 1, 2017. “Though the recruitment was done, an equal number of teachers have retired. We depended on guest teachers to fill in. But with their recruitment process on hold, we are looking at a crisis,” Ajay Veer Yadav, general secretary of the Government School Teachers’ Association, said.

Marlena said the government created 9,500 new teaching posts but is yet to induct permanent teachers. “We will hire guest teachers till permanent appointment is done,” she said.

“I have increased the salaries of guest teachers until I can get them made permanent. I cannot hire so many people overnight. It has to be through a legal procedure,” said Sisodia.

But guest teachers are not happy. Shoaib Rana, a guest teacher at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Jaffrabad, said, “For the last two years government has been fooling us. They know they cannot regularize us, it was a false promise.”

Although the growth and development is evident, and the Delhi government is on the right track, there’s a long way to go for Arvind Kejriwal to prove himself and win our hearts. 




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