Blame game over failure of Selfie with Students campaign in Maharashtra

An innovative way to take attendance in schools was proposed by the Maharashtra government back in November 2016. This way included teachers taking a selfie/self-portrait picture with the students of the class they are teaching in, in order to ensure that there is ample attendance of students during the class hours. This campaign had been issued to start from the 1st January 2017. The selfies taken in class were to be uploaded on the SARAL website in order to maintain a record of the attendance in school.

However, recent developments indicate that the government has asked this policy to be unfollowed until further notice. The state education minister Vinod Tawde said that this policy has temporarily stayed because it was not followed/implemented properly by the teachers. Adding to this, the secretary of the school education, Nand Kumar said that the decision was taken as there was no proper communication and also due to several technical glitches.

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Since the policy first came out, it was made clear by the teachers in certain rural schools that there was no proper infrastructure, time or internet connection in the area for them to carry out such an action to maintain attendance. Amir Ansari, a Mumbai-based teacher, made the plea of these teachers quite clear by adding that the government should be focussing more on improving the infrastructure of the schools in order for such policies to be successfully implemented. He said, “Getting a good Internet connection or a proper phone is difficult, especially in rural Maharashtra. So the priority should be to improve the infrastructure.”

After a two-day protest by several school employees from all over the state, the state government finally revoked the policy and made it stay until further notice. The official statement by the state education minister included the following saying, “The selfies were asked to be taken to ensure that out-of-school children who are being enrolled in school attend regularly. However, the implementation of the programme was flawed by some officials. The programme which was meant for out-of-school children, the officials said it is applicable to all students. We will soon meet the officials and train them that the selfies have to be taken only for out-of-school children. Until then, the programme has stayed.”

While some activists from the state did support the policy, a major uprising against the policy was observed from most of the teachers of schools in rural areas.

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