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Are we addressing the right problems?

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               A school in Chikkaballapura district in dilapidated condition. - B H Shivakumar

Photo Source: Deccan Herald

By: Reshma Ravishanker, DH News Service

At a time when shutting down schools seems to be an option that the government is contemplating to tackle the issue of decline in enrolment into government schools, education experts believe that finding alternative solutions is the need of the hour.

From having the educated in the locality assist the existing teachers to provide better incentives, several ground-level challenges need to be addressed. Experts believe it is in the same ground where the problem is breeding that the solution could bepicked up from. Involving community efficiently and empowering local youth to teach in government schools could be tentative solutions to addressing the problem of single teachers in schools, believe experts. Nagasimha G Rao, a child rights activist from Bengaluru who has been battling the cause of Right to Education (RTE), sees this from the perspective of a teacher. “When appointments are made, not all posts in rural areas are filled. This could be one of the primary reasons for posts to remain vacant,” he says.  He attributes the vacancies to a few persistent issues. “Some teachers when the postings are made realise that they can’t travel to remote areas. Some of them do not report to work at all due to this. In such places, guest teachers are appointed and the school is run,” he adds. 

In other places, the number of enrolments into schools itself is low. In such places, the government finds no need to appoint additional teachers, he says.

“As per the Right to Education norms, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) ought to be 30:1. When there are 20 students in a school, one teacher would suffice if one were to go by this norm,” he says adding that this, however, would only do injustice to children. “Even as the PTR is met in most schools the difference arises as a single teacher is expected to teach students from multiple classes simultaneously. She is not only teaching different age groups of students but also different subjects, which as per the RTE act ought to be taught by subject teachers. Locals who are well-read and youth from the same village can be empowered to teach. The School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) has to identify them. If they are given good incentives and certificates, they will be motivated to come and teach these children.” 

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posted Aug 28, 2018 by Gowri Vimalan

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A school is a school is a school – right? Not so! Choosing your child’s school –especially for the 10th and 12th grade can have a big impact on the future of your son or daughter. Whether they want to study engineering or become an art teacher, the school they go to (and the board exam and subjects they choose) will either open doors for them internationally or limit them to local institutions or choices.

Karan Gupta, Mumbai based international education counsellor on factors parents should consider before choosing an international school for their child

There are so many considerations – from cost to quality of education and the future career implications of choosing a particular board.
Is your child bright? Artistic? Bit of a cricket star?
When thinking about your child’s future and their last years at school, you should think about these questions:
* Will your child want to study after school?
* Do you want your child to be able to study overseas?
* How much money do you have for your child’s education?
* Do you want your child’s tertiary education to be recognized internationally?
* Do you really know what your child wants to do one day?
* Are you planning an education option for your child that may not really be suited to their talents or aptitude? 
Fortunately, Indian schools have many different schools to choose from. These include: 
* CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education)
* CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certificate Exams)
* IB (International Baccalaureate)
* IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education Cambridge University
* State Boards
A quick look at each one
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) follows a universal syllabus and is a good choice for parents with transferable jobs. The education is of a high standard and has a strong focus on mathematics and science. It is not really suited for children with more artistic or literary interests.  On the other hand, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) have a more practical approach with specific skills choices. 
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international education foundation based in Switzerland. It is recognized by most universities around the world. It is ideal for children who may want to study or work abroad. The quality of the education is high – as are fees.
Another consideration is the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). It is an academically strong, English language-based approach that prepares children for university education of an international standard. It is recognized internationally and there is an emphasis on technical and English subjects. 
For parents who cannot spend a lot of money, the State Board is always an option and offers a certificate SSC (Secondary School Certificate, 10 Board Exams) and HSC (Higher School Certificate 12 Board Exams). Several colleges and universities reserve seats for children with this qualification and this choice also offers students more time so that they can pursue extracurricular activities like sports and dancing. However, the quality of education may be an issue, depending on the school and the area. 
Openly discuss with your child
It is very important to make the right choice for your child when they go into Grade 10. It is often not easy to transfer from one board to another in the middle of your child’s schooling. Therefore, it may be wise to explore a few options and talk to people who have already made this decision. 
Talk to your child to ensure that you are both on the same page in terms of their future. Don’t have unrealistic expectations of your child’s academic performance as this could see you perhaps making the wrong selection of board for your child. 
Making good education choices is all about what is best for your child – and your pocket!




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              SHOWING THE WAY: Mallesh D Harivan gives his students a lesson in plant life during a class in Gadag recently

Photo Source: Times Of India



When Mallesh D Harivan, a teacher, joined the Government Lower Primary School in Adavisomapur, a remote tribal hamlet in Gadag, in 2003, there were only 68 students on the rolls. The school — a Class 1 to Class 5 institution — consisted of just two classrooms and Harivan was determined to increase the number of students on roll as well as to improve the facilities in the school.

Harivan had spent five years teaching in Savanur before moving to Adavisomapur and that experience came in handy. Now, the school has 103 students on its rolls and Harivan had added three more classrooms. The government has recognized his efforts and will confer the best teacher award on him at a ceremony in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

“In this tanda (hamlet), parents of students migrate to other places in search of jobs,” Harivan, 49, told TOI. “Their children would accompany them. With the help of other teachers, I began visiting each house in the tanda to persuade parents to send their wards to school. The response was slow, but steady.”

With the numbers increasing, Harivan decided to expand. He collected Rs 3.5 lakh in donations from friends and acquaintances and built three classrooms. To promote extra-curricular activity, he started a ‘no-bag day’ on every Saturday. Every two weeks, students are taken to the library to encourage them to read.

“Now that I’m in-charge of this school, I will also teach Kannada in very unique way,” Harivan said.

Shankar Hugar, senior lecturer, District Institute of Education and Training, Gadag, said, “Thanks to Harivan’s hard work, many dropouts have re-joined school. Together with government funds, he also collected donations people around to help poor students get notebooks and shoes. He has brought innovative teaching methods to this small school.”

He pays for classroom activities

For the past 13 years, CS Sathish, a teacher at Government Lower Primary School, Mullur, Kodagu, sets aside a portion of his salary every month for what he calls “classroom activities”. He believes his students will learn what they are taught far more quickly through this initiative. He has created a number of science modules on solar energy for example. Recipient of the district-level best teacher award last year, Satish’s teaching career began in Bagalkot. “I teach all subjects,” he said. “Every month, I save some money for classroom activities. I believe in using creative modules to help students learn whatever I teach quickly.”

Awards for teachers

The state government will present 20 primary school, 10 high school and a special high school teacher with Best Teacher awards for the year 2018-19 during Teachers’ Day celebrations at the Banquet Hall, Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy will present the awards.

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Picture Source: News World India


In a bid to improve the quality of education, the Karnataka government is considering a proposal to make compulsory for state government employees to send their children to government schools rather than private schools.

Primary and Secondary Education minister N Mahesh was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying, “We are considering bringing in a policy on the basis of a report to encourage enrolment in government schools.”

“By making government employees enroll their wards in government schools, we hope to make them stakeholders in the betterment of these schools,” Mahesh added.

In order to implement the proposal the Karnataka government is seeking a legal opinion.

“We have asked for legal opinion to ensure that we do not go against some judgments of the Supreme Court, where it held that state governments cannot dictate the choice of the school of the children. We are looking at ways to overcome this,” Mahesh said.

The move is based on the Kannada Development Authority (KDA) report published in September 2017 that suggested “those who draw a salary from the government have to mandatorily send their children to government schools and not private ones. And there should be a provision to punish those who flout this rule.”

In the month of June, it was proposed in Karnataka to pilot English-medium classes in 1,000 government schools. 

According to a survey during 2011-15, the total enrolment in government schools fell by 11.2 million, whereas in private, it rose by 16 million.

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Photo source- Deccan Herald

By- S Giridhar,

There is a history and trajectory which we must remember. Twenty years ago we did not have a school in every village and children had to walk miles to the nearest school. Enrolment in 2001 was just around 70% and more than 40% children dropped out by Class V. Since those days and with the thrust provided by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we have a school in virtually every habitation. Enrolment for the past few years has reached close to 100%. The Right to Education Act 2009 has also played its part. The dropouts at Class V in 2001 was over 40 % but today, even by Class VIII, dropout has reduced to less than 20%.  At the same time, while enrolment and retention issues have been addressed, the issue of children’s learning remains wickedly unresolved. Even as a number of things have been suggested and tried, there is now a consensus that the way forward is only a long haul — one where the country must invest greatly in teacher education, their continuous development while also understanding their situation and challenges.   

In this context, one of the proposals to ensure better quality schooling is the merging of very small strength schools. It is seen as a means of consolidating scattered resources so that issues of multi-grade teaching are addressed, there are teachers for every class and subject and with an optimum pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) etc. One recognises that very small schools with 10 to 12 children across five classes is unviable; one also knows that an ideal school scenario where we have 130 to 150 children in five classes with five teachers is almost utopian. It is between these two extremes, that one must appreciate, lies the proposal to consolidate schools. To begin with, we must view the proposal of merger of very small strength schools not with the knee-jerk fear that they are ‘shutting down schools’ but as a considered plan of ‘consolidation’. Having said that, any such consolidation must ensure that access is never compromised. It is, after all, only the commitment to ensure access that has enabled enrolment reach close to 100%. One sweeping policy will not fit all contexts in a large, complex and diverse country like ours. If in remote locations, hilly terrain, harsh desert etc., primary school children have to walk three kilometres to a school it will certainly compromise access and deny children their schooling. On the other hand, merging schools that are nearby could be an obviously implementable decision. Therefore consolidation will require individual attention, an appreciation of the local context and the wisdom to know where to consolidate and where not to consolidate.  

If such careful consolidation is done, one can reason that while ensuring access, one could also achieve a better quality of education. At a PTR of say 30:1, with teachers who can teach Math, Science, EVS, language etc. for each class, the quality of learning is bound to improve.

The challenge for the single teacher is immense. She or he may manage the children of ages 6 to 11 across five classes very skilfully, but at the end of the day, it is a very stressful and sub-optimal pedagogical situation. Obviously, even among single teachers, one will find 15 to 20% of them are absolute heroes. They work sincerely without supervision, leveraging the autonomy they have, trying to enrich the learning experience of their students as much as possible. But this is not because of the system, it is just an individual’s answer to his or her own conscience.

There is enough evidence in India and other countries that the quality of education in private schools is not better than in government schools. There is a misconception in the community that certain visible symbols such as shoes, ties, computers, learning English indicate better learning for children. Sometimes a migration to the private school is just the social pressure to match a neighbour even if one’s financial resources are strained. Government schools may often have better iinfrastructure, better-qualified teachers. However, many of the government schools that are doing their job sincerely are not effective in projecting to the parents and the community, their efforts and in demonstrating the learning of the children. If they were to do this, the community would gain a better appreciation and then make informed choices of whether to stay with the government school or migrate. 

At the end of it, the core point is that public education/government schools must be strengthened and supported if we aim to have an equitable society. For more than 50% of India, eking out subsistence livelihoods, government schools are the only road to a better future. Otherwise, we will have only a greater disparity and inequality.

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Photo Source:

By- Times News Network

One of the more surprising revelations of the district-wise National Achievement Survey 2017, is that rural students do better than their urban peers.
In class III, urban students outscore their rural counterparts in EVS but score lower in language and mathematics. At higher levels — both classes V and VIII — rural students score better in all subjects except language. Data shows the gap between rural and urban students keeps increasing in higher classes.

It may be because government schools in urban areas are so neglected that parents prefer to send their children to private schools, said Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, an NGO. “With crowded classrooms, insufficient number of teachers, and students not getting books and uniforms on time, the government schools are in a pathetic condition.” Rai noted that the results are much better wherever the government invests in its schools. “Kendriya Vidyalayas, where the allocation is eight times higher than in other government schools, are performing better than their private counterparts.”

Girls outperform boys at all levels, but the gap narrows with age. This is probably because in both rural and urban set-ups, girls are additionally burdened with household chores such as helping in the kitchen and taking care of younger siblings.

“Social challenges for girls increase as they grow. This is a major reason why there is also an increase in the dropout rate of girls in higher classes. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme cannot run on a Rs 200-crore allocation,” Rai added. Girls, however, appear to have a definite advantage over boys in understanding of language. At all levels, the difference in average scores of boys and girls is the highest in language.