Context: The Parliamentary standing committee on Human Resource Development (HRD) report revealed that nearly half of the government schools in the country do not have electricity or playgrounds.
More details in the report
- In 2020-2021 demand for grants, there was a 27% cut from proposals made by the School Education Department in the Budgetary allocations.
- The panel expressed disappointment over the stark deficits in the government school infrastructure.
- Only 56% of schools have electricity, with the lowest rates in Manipur and Madhya Pradesh, where less than 20% have access to power.
- As per UDISE survey, Less than 57% of schools have playgrounds, including less than 30% of schools in Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir.
- It also came with a warning that the dismal rate of progress in building classrooms, labs and libraries to strengthen government higher secondary schools would alienate students from government schools.
- Out of 2,613 sanctioned projects for 2019-20, only three had been completed in the first nine months of the financial year.
- In government higher secondary schools, out of 1021 sanctioned, not a single additional classroom had been built by December 31, 2019.
- Against sanctioned funds for 1,343 labs, only three laboratories had been built.
- In the case of libraries, art/craft culture rooms, none had been built yet despite a sanctioned target of 135 and 74 respectively.
- Overall, for the core Samagra Shiksha Scheme, the department had only spent 71% of revised estimates by December 31, 2019.
Key Initiatives in Education
Key Reforms in School Education
- National Initiative for School Heads' and Teachers' Holistic Advancement .
- A National Mission to improve learning outcomes at the elementary level through an Integrated Teacher Training Programme.
- The initiative is first of its kind wherein standardised training modules are developed at national level for all states and UTs.
- One of the world's largest Integrated Online Junction for School Education.
- It is an overarching initiative to improve the school education system by creating a junction for all online portals and websites.
- The portals relate to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Government of India and all States and Union Territories.
Operation Digital Board (ODB)
- The aim is to provide by March 2023, two smart classrooms for every Secondary/Senior Secondary school.
Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) 2.0 - DIKSHA Portal was launched in 2017 for providing digital platforms to teachers giving them an opportunity to learn and train themselves and connect with the teacher community.
DHRUV - Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Program.
- It was launched to identify and encourage talented children to enrich their skills and knowledge.
- The Programme ‘DHRUV' will act as a platform to explore the talent of outshining and meritorious students, and help them achieve excellence in their specific areas of interest may it be science, performing arts, creative writing, etc.
Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+)
- To ensure quality, credibility and timely availability of information from all the schools in the country, the revamped UDISE+ has been launched.
- The GIS based mapping portal gives information about the location of more than 15 lakh schools in the country along with some salient highlights.
- An overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
- It envisages the 'school' as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels.
- The schemes Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) have been merged to make way for Samagra Shiksha.
- Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the scheme.
- Targeted Category - Children with Special Needs (CWSN) and children belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), minority communities and transgenders.
Key Reforms in Higher Education
Implementation of Quality Improvement Programme
- Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India's Developing Economy (STRIDE) - Launched to promote quality research by faculty and create new knowledge.
- PARAMARSH - A scheme to mentor institutions seeking National Assessment and Accreditation Council accreditation.
- Deeksharambh - A guide to the Student Induction Programme has been launched.
- It is initiated with enhanced features and facilities to offer online degree programmes through SWAYAM by top ranking universities.
SWAYAM PRABHA- DTH Educational Channels
- It is a project to telecast high-quality educational programs through 32 DTH channels on 24x7 basis to reach out to student/learners of India with wide reach and minimal cost.
- It aims to support those students who do not have good learning options like lack of teacher or internet etc.
Institution of Eminence (loE) Implementation by: Ministry of Human Resource and Development
- Ten institutions in the sector and IO institutions in the private sector have to be declared as IoE.
- Each public institute (IoE) will be eligible to receive Rs. 1000 crore during the next 5 years.
- It recommended a collaboration with MGNREGA scheme and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in order to construct boundary walls, and to provide solar and other energy sources so that schools have access to power.
- The panel recommended that such central and centrally sponsored schemes (core schemes) which saw a reduction of 27% get additional funds at the revised estimates stage.
Critical Analysis of the report
- A cut of 27% is a cause of concern, given the focus on reaping demographic dividend.
- In Spite of being a founder leader of the International Solar Alliance, that lauds the virtues of photovoltaic electricity, India has not yet electrified a significant number of government schools.
- As education falls under the concurrent list, the Centre operates its own schemes and sponsors several school education programmes covering the States, notably Samagra Shiksha and the Mid Day Meal scheme.
- The finding that read lack of electricity, playground, boundary wall, toilet facility for children with special needs show the low priority being accorded to the school education.
- A mission made approach to ensure infrastructure in schools like that of a 100day programme for education that focused on part on training of schoolteachers and opening of central schools.
- Solar power can be installed in schools and toilets built for all students in 100 days.
- For playgrounds, as of now it can be relied upon community grounds until permanent arrangements are made.
- Community participation can make sure that the objectives are satisfactorily met.
Lastly, to usher in demographic dividend, it is necessary to allocate sufficient funds for school education as well as efficient utilisation of it. A public school system that guarantees universal access, good learning and all facilities has to be among the highest national priorities.
Image Source: The Hindu