Photo Credits: TOI
BENGALURU: It's common for politicians to do nothing but crib about the dwindling number of students in government schools. But a politician-official partnership in Hubballi-Dharwad has managed to arrest this negative trend with a simple strategy: starting pre-primary (kindergarten) classes in government schools.
The move has yielded positive results as the student intake in Dharwad Urban division has increased by 2,247 students in 61 government schools between 2015-16 and 2017-18. Inspired by the outcome, the government is contemplating starting kindergarten classes in all government schools across the state next year. The finance department is currently evaluating the proposal.
MLA, Hubbali-Dharwad (West), Arvind Chandrakant Bellad, whose brainchild it was to start kindergarten classes in government schools, said: "We realized that not many parents were putting their kids in government schools because the entry-level age for first standard is five years and ten months. So, parents preferred to send their kids, who have attained three years and ten months and out of playschool, to lower kindergarten (LKG) in private schools. The usual tendency among parents is to continue their kids in private schools and, hence, the number of kids in government schools was low. We decided to bridge the gap between playschool and first standard by commencing kindergarten classes in government schools."
The move was not an easy one, given the legal hurdles and financial implications involved. Bellad started with the government school at Kelageri village near Dharwad by taking members of the school development and monitoring committee (SDMC) and local education department officials into confidence."We decided to pool in resources and rope in teachers from outside for kindergarten classes. It worked and the number of admissions gradually shot up. The same model was replicated in 36 out of the 63 schools in 201415. It was extended to 40 schools in 2015-16 and 61 schools in 2017-18."
The education department officials too joined hands by redeploying staff."Some schools had teachers who had little work and some had physical training teachers with less work load. Such teachers were engaged in kindergarten. Of course, they were sensitized about the needs of kids and the larger goal of getting and retaining more students in government schools. We also got teachers from outside by paying them a monthly honorarium of Rs 3,000-4,000," said Bellad. What has made these kindergarten popular among parents is the fact that emphasis is being laid on teaching English along with Kannada.
Education department officials recently briefed primary education minister Tanveer Sait about the initiative and he was quite appreciative of it
By Rakesh Prakash