(The Gist of Kurukshetra) EDUCATION SCENARIO IN THE NORTH EAST [NOVEMBER-2019]
(The Gist of Kurukshetra) EDUCATION SCENARIO IN THE NORTH EAST
EDUCATION SCENARIO IN THE NORTH EAST
- It is important to recognise that with the expansion of schooling, o large number of students are now drawn from underprivileged backgrounds with higher ability group variation in the classrooms than ever before. In this context, teachers and schools should assist students in achieving the pathways for developing critical and higher order thinking and the ability to communicate effectively.
Education sector in Meghalaya:
- The education sector in Meghalaya is being pushed to deliver high quality with greater transparency and focus is shifting to outcome measures related to quality. The Government of Meghalaya along with the Government of India has taken multiple steps to address gaps in the education system. There is also an increased realisation to focus on quality of education and need to view education as a continuum right from early education to higher education, integrated with vocational programmes as opposed to the disconnected silos.
- Meghalaya, with more than 14,282 schools, about 900,000 students, about 51,000 teachers and sparsely populated areas, has achieved significant progress in the education sector in recent past.
- The State has made significant strides in education in recent years and is committed to greater equity and social justice through bringing requisite reforms in education sector. While the State has made notable progress on multiple fronts including improving access, better infrastructure and focus on learning outcomes, there are still several areas that warrant a long road to improvement ahead.
Status of School Education in Meghalaya:
- It is important to recognise that with the expansion of schooling, a large number of students are now drawn from underprivileged backgrounds with higher ability group variation in the classrooms than ever before. In this context, teachers and schools should assist students in achieving the pathways for developing critical and higher order thinking and the ability to communicate effectively. To put it in different words, strategies for expansion of capability should be such that it leads to reduction in inequality in learning outcomes between different groups and enhancement of other forms of capabilities.
- Achievement of the idea of sustainable development from the perspective of the capability approach, teaching learning practices must move from formation of basic competencies to formation of ability to think and reason and be informed of the world around them. School Education for sustainable development must be an education that Is the basis for abilities needed to establish agency and attitudes supporting behaviour that leads to equal and just society.
- High drop-out rate in the State has been a major cause of concern to the State Government, such factors tend to supplement each other and reinforce their adverse impact. However, it is well recognized that poverty, large size of families, distance between residence and school, a non-conducive school environment and untrained teachers are, to a large extent are responsible.
- As per U-DISE September 2015-16 there are more than 15,000 untrained teachers. The policy of the Government will be to address the problem at source and in future to appoint only trained teachers. Simultaneously, the backlog of untrained teachers will be cleared by adopting appropriate strategies. The teachers will be trained through Open Distance Learning within a stipulated time through IGNOU and NIOS.
Access and Quality issues in School Education:
- The problem of access to Elementary Education has been largely addressed through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).However, although ASER 2012 has rated the State between 3rd and 6th position in the country in terms of learning levels for Primary School students, quality will remain an important concern and will continue to be a priority as it has a direct bearing on the quality of the subsequent stages of Education. The intermediate goal is to provide at least two teachers for each Primary School. However, the ultimate aim is to have one teacher per class in each school.
School Improvement Initiatives in Meghalaya:
- A more comprehensive approach would be equalisation of learning opportunities through strategies for expansion of capability of students. Teaching learning strategies needs to take into account the inter-relatedness of capability expansion as means of equalisation of learning opportunities and learning outcomes as a basis for long term sustainable development. Through strategies of capability expansion, teachers and schools should promote equalisation of learning opportunities.
The Meghalaya School Improvement Programme:
- The MSIP was piloted in ten schools during the year 2014,through the collaborative efforts of the DERT, the Directorate of School Education and Literacy (DSEL), RMSA Meghalaya and the District Institute of Education and Training.
The programme focussed on three key areas:
- establishing school teams/communities of learning
- undertaking school quality assessment and
- outcome-based progress tracking.
The programme also had the following guiding principles to guide all school-based activities:
- reduce isolation through collaborations and effective communication,
- Increase staff capacity through continuous professional development,
- create a supportive school environment and
- to strive for continuous improvement.
- Though the task team faced innumerable challenges which included dearth of funds, school personnel not reporting for training, absence of educational personnel offering school-site support, poor connectivity in parts Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and Khasi Hills and poor monitoring of action plans at the school level, they also saw the potential of communities of learning.
Central findings of Pilot schools:
- The experiences from the 10 pilot schools have shown that schools need a lot of hand holding during the entire process of preparation and implementing their school improvement plans. With limited funds 3nd time, capacity building is often limited to initial orientation workshops where schools are taught regarding the concept of school improvement plans, identifying their own priorities and areas of focus, school rating as per Shaala Shiddhi domains, constituting teams and preparation of the school improvement plans. However, in order for a school to really maximise the benefits of this intervention more handholding is required especially on one to one consultations.
- It is seen that most schools could not even start the process of preparation of School improvement plan, and some of the main reasons were
- Non-cooperation from other teachers/school authorities
- Not able to prioritise the importance of this program
- Not able to identify and constitute the teams
- Work hygiene (responsibilities, meetings, recordings etc)
- Inability to identify correct priorities, set realistic targets, and class room level actions
- Inability to use data to sort priorities
- Inability to review performance, take course corrections and so on Hence, it is obvious that any long term program that engages with schools at their level, must have more elaborate, focussed and continuous capacity so that schools may attain the desired level of self-improvement.
- Quality of learning continues to remain a big challenge for the Meghalaya's education system. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) grade X results show over 35 percent of the students scored less than the average scores of 250 on math, social science and science assessment.
- NAS scores across subjects also show the percentage of correct responses in Grade V. At grade 5, not more than 43 per cent percent of students could answer correctly most of the question pertaining to "grasp and interpret in reading comprehension. In Mathematics only about 29 per cent of students could identify "difference between numbers" correctly.
- Rationalisation of resourcing through the merging of small schools and creating composite schools can release resources which can then be utilised for financing schemes needed to improve education system efficiency and quality. Mega schools need to be examined to establish whether they are justified by lower costs and higher levels of achievement.
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can provide detailed insight into current patterns of school location in relation to habitations. This can lead to the development of plans to increase locational efficiency that are both technically effective and educationally and politically feasible.
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