In what is probably the most ambitious education scheme in Maharashtra, in the public education sector, the state government has decided to convert 100 municipal and government-run schools into ‘international’ schools. This is the second step for Progressive Education Maharashtra, a scheme that seeks to introduce international curriculum to bring government school students on par with international education benchmarks.
While the first step was taken in October this year, when it was decided to prepare students from 100 selected municipal and government schools for international examinations such as PISA & PIRLS. Students of Class 4 will take Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, an exam held every four years. Students of Class 4 and Class 8 will appear in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which is also held every four years. Students above 15 years of age will take Program for International Student Assessment, conducted every three years.
An expert committee headed by school education commissioner is currently shortlisting the schools. The state-run international schools are set to be launched in June 2017. They are planning to choose at least one school from each of the 36 districts. Over 2,000 teachers from the available pool of 5.6 lakh teachers in the state are also being shortlisted fo the initiative. Teachers and principals will be retained for only five years in these schools, though they can apply again for the posts. This aims to motivate others, and also to encourage other schools to join the scheme.
The schools will continue to offer education in vernacular/English medium. Institutions run by Tribal Development and Social Justice Departments will also be included in this scheme. The international curriculum will be adapted and adopted to the Maharashtra context. More schools are expected to be added to the project in future. Only few days back, the state government had announced to provide English-medium education to ST students.
The school education department has created a separate cell for international education within the Maharashtra state board. It is also hiring consultants from Cambridge University to chalk out a world-class curriculum, plan a teachers’ training program and develop support structures for the chosen schools. Currently, Maharashtra ranks at 3rd position in terms of quality education.