Q. The Quality of education at the primary level in the public schools in India has been lagging over the years. How can Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan 2.0 address the critical challenges in this regard? (250 Words)
- Source: IE - Editorial/Page 10 - A Happier school
- GS 2: Education
Introduction: India has achieved a near 100% gross enrolment ratio at the primary level of schooling. This however hasn't translated into learning outcomes. ASER's 2018 report showed that more than 70% of class VIII students cannot read a class II level text. And more than 50% couldn't solve a three-digit division problem.
Causes Behind the alarming decline in government school enrolment in India
- Lower teacher salaries: There is a practice of keeping teachers on contractual employment. This ensures that the teachers do not put enough efforts in educating kids.
- Poor teacher qualifications and training: The B.Ed Program is insufficient for the teachers to develop pedagogical skills.
- Government spending: in the education sector is around 3.8% of which only a fraction is utilized for the primary education.
- Language of instruction: English instruction is hard to follow which forces students to leave studies in between.
- Poor Infrastructure: The government facilities in rural India often lack electricity or tapped water connection, the sanitary facilities for girls are often poor. In many cases even the classrooms are not up to the mark.
Thus government has launched Samagra shiksha abhiyan, which aims to ensure that every Class 3 child has foundational literacy and numeracy within five years. The National Education Policy had included a 2025 deadline to achieve the goal.
FEATURES OF THE SCHEME
- Holistic approach to education:
- Single Scheme to treat School Education holistically as a continuum from Pre-school to Class 12. It supports state to structure the pre-primary education.
- NIPUN Bharat Mission for foundational literacy and numeracy. Play and toy-based teaching-learning material and pedagogy will be the corner stone of building this foundation. This is strongly linked cognitive, language, thinking, communication, collaboration and psychomotor skills.
- Open School system: It aims to attract 16 to 19 year-old out-of-school children.
- The inclusion of a holistic progress card, topic circles, bag-less days, criterion-referenced item banks, and school complexes for efficient schooling.
- Administrative reforms:
- Single and unified administrative structure leading to harmonized implementation.
- Flexibility to States to prioritise their interventions under the Scheme
- An integrated administration looking at ‘school’ as a continuum
- Enhanced Funding for Education: Learning outcomes and steps taken for quality improvement will be the basis for allocation of grants under the Scheme.
- Focus on Quality of Education: Emphasis on improvement of Learning Outcomes, Capacity Building of Teachers, and focus on strengthening Teacher Education Institutions like SCERTs and DIETs to improve the quality of prospective teachers in the system.
- Focus on Digital Education:
- ‘Operation Digital Board’ in all secondary schools over a period of 5 years, for easy to understand, technology based learning
- Digital initiatives like Shala Kosh, SHAGUN, Shaala Saarthi to be strengthened
- Strengthening of ICT infrastructure in schools from upper primary to higher secondary level.
- “DIKSHA” digital portal for teachers to be used extensively for upgrading skills of teachers.
- Strengthening of Schools:
- Consolidation of schools for improvement of quality
- Enhanced Transport facility to children across all classes from I to VIII for universal access to school.
- Increased allocation for infrastructure strengthening in schools
- Composite school grant increased and to be allocated on the basis of school enrolment.
- Specific provision for Swachhta activities – support ‘Swachh Vidyalaya’
- Focus on Girl Education: Enhanced Commitment to ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’
- Upgradation of KGBVs from Class 6-8 to Class 6-12 .
- Self-defense training for girls from upper primary to higher secondary stage
- Stipend for CWSN girls to be provided from Classes I to XII. – earlier only IX to XII.
- Focus on Inclusion
- Allocation for uniforms and textbooks under RTE Act enhanced per child per annum.
- Allocation for Children with Special Needs (CwSN) increased from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 3500 per child per annum.
- Stipend of Rs. 200 per month for Girls with Special Needs from Classes 1 to 12.
- Focus on Skill Development:
- Strengthening of vocational education at secondary level as an integral part of curriculum.
- Vocational education which was limited to Class 9-12, to be started from class 6 as integrated with the curriculum and to be made more practical and industry oriented.
- Focus on Sports and Physical Education -
- Supporting 'Khelo India' Initiative: Every school that gets at least two medals in Khelo India at the national level, a grant of Rs 25,000 will be given.
- Sports equipment will be provided to all schools under this component.
- Sports Education to be an integral part of curriculum
- Focus on Regional Balance: Preference to Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs), LWEs, Special Focus Districts (SFDs), Border areas and the 115 aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog.
Limitations of the Scheme:
- Inadequate number of teachers: The Scheme is relatively silent on increasing the teacher to student ratio from 1:24 to say a more acceptable 1:15.
- No roadmap for increasing expenditure: These initiatives can be achieved only if the budgetary allocation is substantially increased. The roadmap for which is unclear.
- Non-teaching burden on teachers: The teachers are often engage in non-teaching duties such as election duties. There is about 24% of absenteeism from schools. Like all previous policies it makes no specific recommendations on how to improve governance.
- COVID-19: Due to regular closing of schools for two years continuously, many students have dropped out of the classes. For example in Haryana as many as 25% of children have dropped out of studies.
- Internet coverage & Infrastructure bottlenecks: The internet coverage in India is only around 50% in terms of population. Many locations in India lack even networking.
- Problem of Corruption: in the schemes like Mid-day meal both quality and quantity is not ensured. Same fate might be of other schemes if no attempt to ensure accountability is made.
Conclusion: Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan forms the most vital element for the implementation of the National Education policy 2021. It is based on the principle of ‘Sabko Shiksha Achhi Shiksha’. However it faces various challenges currently, such as the pandemic, poor government structures, corruption and low investment, due to which the Centre has pushed back the target date to 2026-27 from the earlier 2025. The success of the scheme shall depend on the government's ability to increase the spending on education up to 6% of GDP.