Previous governments have failed to realise or simply ignored the vital role of education in social change and prosperity. Education has not been a priority. The current state of the education system in India is a picture of apathy and despair.
But in Delhi, the AAP government is scripting an exciting new story of one of the most comprehensive overhauls of an education system anywhere in the world. Few even know about it.
We may or may not have believed Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party’s promises of bettering the education system but AAP government’s actions since assuming power have been heartening. The Delhi government has initiated a slew of measures to transform the education system. Let’s dwell on these in some detail:
Firstly, in its very first budget, AAP has doubled the budget for education to 9,836 crores, making education its topmost priority accounting for a whopping 25% of the total budget.
AAP has put education in the hands of young, passionate, competent and dedicated teams.
To cover the infrastructure deficit over 8,000 classrooms have been added in various schools and will come into use from the upcoming season. Students of different classes will have separate and spacious classes.
The government also carried out a survey of all its 1,000 schools and assessed necessary amenities like water taps, toilets, blackboards, fans, etc. and made a grant to schools to ensure these amenities are made available. If this is not done the school administration is liable to face action.
The government has added auditoriums, laboratories and sporting facilities to schools where they are not present. Opening up school grounds for children from the locality during evenings is also on the cards. The government has also initiated a project to build Mohalla libraries in different localities.
To address the problem of overworked teachers the government has initiated recruitment of over 10,000 teachers. Teachers will no longer perform in non-teaching duties. Clerical staff has been recruited to free teachers from such non-core duties.
Furthermore, it has raised the allocation for teachers training from 9 crores to over 100 crores in the latest budget. Also, the government is working to create a system where promising teachers can be groomed for leadership of schools.
The principals have been given the powers to take administrative and financial decisions without rushing to the education department.
Principals and Teaching staff are being sent for training sessions in prestigious universities across the world including Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, IIM’s, National University of Singapore and others.
Delhi government has been conducting several workshops for its teaching staff during this summer to improve the way the curriculum is taught in schools.
Principals can now appoint an estate manager and hire ministerial staff for their schools. One Estate Manager is hired in each and every school, separately for each shift. The Estate Manager is responsible for basic facilities like sanitation, security, clean water.
Delhi Government has agreed to the Higher Education & Skill Education Guarantee Scheme which would provide students upto Rs. 10 lakh as loan without any collateral or third party guarantee or margin money. There would be no processing charges for the loan.
To improve transparency and accountability of schools, the government has reconstituted School Management Committees (comprising mainly of parents). This way parents can oversee and control what goes on in the school. Things like absent/missing teachers, fake expenditures and misappropriation of funds can be significantly curbed.
The AAP Government will also ensure regulation and accountability of private school fees.
Monitoring of classrooms through CCTV’s is implemented in government schools.
Surprise visits by the Dy CM (and Education Minister) of a state, to see whether the schools are being administered properly or not have led to principals and teaching staff being removed or suspended on the spot.
Delhi government has ordered the roll back of the fee hike for this year. Unless the audit for the financial statements of these schools is completed, fee hike will not be permitted. Government has decided to hire auditors to scrutinize the financial books and ascertain whether the fee charged by the schools is being completely utilized for the purposes of school operations or is being diverted towards personal gains.
AAP govt roped in few NGO organizations this summer to conduct one of it’s kind summer camp for kids attending govt schools in Delhi. The results have been encouraging.
As if all of this was not enough the AAP government has proposed to scrap all kinds of quotas (including management and EWS quotas) in schools, especially related to the nursery admissions in private schools across Delhi.
In order to decrease failure rates for students of Class 9 under the no-detention policy, Chunauti 2018 to provide training and mentorship programs for student to successfully appear for Class 10 exams has been launched.
Aanganwadi play schools for small children have been given a facelift to make them more cheery looking.
Last but not the least, the AAP government is changing the very basic nature of education by reducing the syllabus by 25% to give children more time for learning outside books.
At the same time it is is increasing the time and facilities for cultural, sporting and other extra-curricular activities.
54 ‘model’ schools will allow access to the desirous academies/clubs/individual professionals into the schools to coach students in music, dance (classical and contemporary), theater, fine arts (including craft), creative writing and photography. The students will be assessed in these extra-curricular activities.
These are some of the major initiatives and education reforms taken up by the government so far to improve the education system within the national capital. Indeed, some of the efforts are really noteworthy and commendable, to say the least.
2016 has been an exciting year in education reforms by AAP as many infrastructural changes in government schools and trained teachers are being seen in action.