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Gist of Kurukshetra- Rural Education :Introduction

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  • Published
    12th Dec, 2019

Level of education is not only a reflection of the level of development attained by a society but in turn it also gives impetus to growth and modernization of the society. As a result, promoting rural education becomes a prime objective of the Government to ensure an overall balance in development.

  • Literacy rate in rural areas was around 68 percent while it was 84 percent in urban areas.
  • Only 59 percent of rural women were estimated to be literate as compared to nearly 80 per cent urban women.
  • As per NSS 71st Round- Overall literacy rate among persons (aged 5 years and above) in India was 76 per cent, in rural areas it was 71 per cent compared to 86 per cent in urban areas.
  • In both rural and urban areas, more than 90 per cent households reported availability of primary school within 1 km from the house as per the survey.
  • The survey showed that nearly 6 per cent of rural households possessed a computer.
  • In 2016-17, total number of schools in India was 15.3 lakhs out of which nearly 12.97 lakh schools were in rural areas. Total enrolment in schools was 25.13 crore out of which 18.02 crore was enrolment of students from rural areas.
  1. Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya
  • It is a rural specific scheme meant for talented children from rural areas.
  • MHRD is running this across the country (except Tamil Nadu) and provides free and quality education to talented rural children.

     2. Samagra Shiksha

  • This is an ambitious programme to promote holistic education. Under the Scheme, provision has been made for giving preference to Special Focus Districts, Educationally Backward Blocks, LWE affected districts.
  • This scheme supports states for strengthening of school infrastructure including in rural areas.

     3. Revamped Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) Scheme

  • It provides the facility of atleast one residential school for girls from Classes VI-XII in every educationally backward block which does not have residential schools under any other Scheme.

     4. Mid-Day Meal Scheme

  • One of the objectives of the scheme is to attract children from disadvantaged sections like poor, dalits, tribals, girls and children of labour workforce including farm labour.A
  • As per NSS 71th round, 70 per cent students get mid-day meals in rural areas.

    5. NISHTHA

  • National initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement has been launched to build capacities of 42 lakh elementary school level teachers, principals, block resource centre coordinators and cluster resource centre coordinators.
  • The basic objective is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.

     6. Vision of Draft New Education Policy

  • The draft NEP envisions creating special merit scholarships which will also include guaranteed employment in their local areas upon successful completion of their four year integrated B.ED. Programmes.
  • To encourage outstanding teachers to be deployed to rural areas, incentives like housing will be provided for teachers to take up teaching jobs in rural areas.

                                                       Digital Initiatives

  • e-Pathshala- NCERT books are now available in digital version for free for anybody.
  • Diksha- is a digital platform for teachers to enable capacity building of all categories of teachers. It will help over 50 lakh teachers in improving the quality of education.
  • MOOCs on SWAYAM Platform- It is an integrated platform for offering online courses and covering school (9th to 12th) to post graduate level.
  • SWAYAM PRABHA(Kishore Manch) DTH-TV Channels- have been launched for transmission of educational e-contents through 32 National Channels.
  • National Digital Library- is a project to develop a framework of virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility.

Main features of the Act-

  • It makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 years and specifies minimum conditions or input criteria that have to be met in all elementary schools.
  • It mandates all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats, absolutely free of cost, for children belonging to disadvantaged categories, which is to be reimbursed by the State.
  • It prohibits all unrecognised schools from practice, and also states that provision for donation or capitation fees is nor permissible.
  • The Act recognises the large number of children who have had to drop out for financial and/or other considerations and provides for mainstreaming in schools through special training so as to bring them at par with their peers in schools.
  • The RTE Act also requires surveys that will take stock of the education situation in all neighbourhoods, identify children who should be getting an education in school and set up facilities for providing it.

Steps for Qualitative Education in India-

  1. It requires education policy to acknowledge that quality spans on a wide range of aspects ranging from the size of the school system, financial capabilities, strength of teachers unions, existing teacher capabilities and variability in performance across the State.
  2. The Central and State Governments should partner with international agencies for providing technical strengthening support in the education sector.
  3. Focus should be on improving quality by developing bespoke solutions instead of a standard straitjacketed programme design.
  4. Efforts should be put to raise the learning levels of rural and marginalised students for promoting equitable basis for employment and inclusive growth.
  5. “Education for All” should not imply “One Programme for All”. This thwarts innovations which should devise local solutions to local problems.

There are a total 43.31 lakh teachers in the elementary stage and 6.11 lakh teachers at the secondary level. Data shows that currently 8.33 lakh teacher posts are vacant at the elementary stage and 1.1 lakh teacher posts are lying vacant at the secondary level. This indeed is an area of serious concern and needs immediate attention.

Issues regarding Teachers-

  • Lack of initiatives and mechanisms that explicitly aim to recruit the best performing students, or those that have the most talent for teaching, into the teaching profession.
  • Quality teacher education is severely lacking and indeed in a crisis at the time.
  • According to government data, the country faces over 10 lakh teacher vacancies- a larger proportion of them in the rural areas- leading to Pupil Teacher Ratios (PTRs) that are even larger than 60:1 in certain areas.
  • Lack of sufficient infrastructure, resources and supplies are other impediments that affect the availability of teachers, especially in rural India.

Suggestions to improve Teacher Efficacy-

  • To ensure that truly excellent students enter the teaching profession from and in rural areas, merit-based scholarships need to be instituted across the country.
  • Incentives should be provided for teachers to take up teaching jobs in rural areas, especially in those remote rural areas with the greatest current numbers of teacher shortage and vacancies.
  • A comprehensive teacher requirement planning exercise needs to be conducted in each Stat to assess expected teacher and subject vacancies over the next two decades.
  • To ensure decent and pleasant service conditions, all schools need to be equipped with adequate and safe infrastructure, including working toilets, clean drinking water, ensure that teachers and students are comfortable and inspired to teach and learn.
  • Teachers should be given more autonomy in choosing finer aspects of curriculum and pedagogy, so that they may teach in the manner that they find the most effective for the students in their classrooms and communities.
  • Ensure availability of a full complement staff of teachers in every school with a focus on remote schools and remote districts.

Recent initiatives for improvement of the quality of teacher education:-

  • RTE Act (2009) was implemented which has made mandatory to appoint trained teachers in schools. In the Act, the provision was made to complete their teacher training upto 2015, later extended to 2019.
  • NCERT has developed learning outcome for elementary teachers in different subjects. Forty lakh teachers were trained so that their teaching can be improved in a better and effective way.
  • National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement (NISTHA) programme has been initiated to provide training to 42 lakh teachers.
  • Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Scheme on National Mission of Teacher and Teaching, an umbrella Scheme has been initiated by MHRD for improving the quality of teachers, teaching, professionalism and preparation of teachers.

  • Decentralization in School Management- is the key for fixing and reviving the broken governance system of rural education in India. The role of local bodies and self-help groups becomes most crucial in reviving and improving the quality education in rural areas.
  • While the local bodies like Panchayats, Bolck Development Committees and Zila Panchayats are elected and hence representative bodies of the rural communities, the self-help groups are grassroots initiatives by the local communities to work together and help each other for creating opportunities and opening the avenues for the financial betterment of the member families.
  • Self Help Groups in Education- The SHGs can be used in management and governance of rural schools on pilot basis after giving proper training and capacity building programmes. It will ensure local participation and monitoring in school management.
  • SHGs know local problems and issues and can offer local solutions to rural schools. Also, SHGs can play an important role in managing the mid-day meal in rural schools and in dealing with the rampant problem of teachers’ absenteeism in rural school.

  • During last two decades, major emphasis has been given on improving school environment by different educational programmes like Operation Blackboard, District Primary Education Programme (DEEP), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhoyan (RMSA) and Samagra Sikhsha.
  • Increase in number of schools: SSA and RMSA have sanctioned 3.64 lakhs elementary and secondary schools, which has resulted in significant increase in the number of schools in rural areas.
  • School Building and Classrooms: there are 98 percent schools in rural areas, having their buildings. Under SSA and RMSA 18.40 lakh classrooms have been constructed as a result the student classroom ratio has reduced.
  • Separate toilet for Boys and Girls: Department of School Education & Literacy had launched Swachh Vidyalaya Initiative with an objective to provide separate toilets for girls and boys in all government schools.
  • Information and Communication Technology: ICT is being used in classrooms to improve learning outcomes and provide opportunities to secondary and senior secondary students to mainly build their capacity on ICT skills.

The massive effort in recent times to revamp and expand the education system in India has far reaching implications. The draft National Education policy 2019 envisions an inclusive and equitable education system where all children have an equal opportunity to learn and thrive. It advocates for equalizing participation and learning outcomes across regions through concerted policy action. Through the establishment of special education zones, targeted funding for inclusion as well as district-wise assistance for independent research on inclusive education, the policy lays the road ahead for India.

Also, it is concluded that many reforms have taken place in the area of teacher education from time to time in the light of recommendations made by different commissions and committees set up by Government. But the issues and concerns raised above still need deep thinking and action on the part of both policy planning and implementation at micro and macro level.

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