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मंदार शिंदे
Mandar Shinde

Sunday, July 28, 2019

DNEP Suggestions

Draft National Education Policy (DNEP)
Suggestions and Objections:

Date: 25/07/2019

Chapter 3: Reintegrating Dropouts and Ensuring Universal Access to Education

  • The draft has listed several reasons for children dropping out of mainstream of education. The system and its stakeholders (not the children) are responsible for discontinuation of schooling. Therefore, we recommend that the new policy should use the word Pushouts instead of Dropouts, increasing emphasis on accountability of the system.

Statement: In absolute numbers, an estimated 6.2 crore children of school age (between 6 and 18 years) were out of school in 2015.

  • The concept of a child being out of school needs to be explicitly defined in new policy. A lot of confusion is observed around identification of out of school children since the RTE Act was enacted. Temporary and permanent migration of children must be considered while setting out-of-school terminology.

Statement: In 2016-17, for every 100 primary schools/sections in India, there were about 50 upper primary schools/sections, 20 secondary schools/sections, and only about 9 higher secondary schools/sections.

  • Inadequate number of schools is a major reason for children remaining out of school or dropping out after certain grades. More emphasis is expected on this point, forcing the Government to make sufficient number of neighbourhood schools available according to RTE Act 2009.

Statement: This will require a strong channel for the best teachers to be deployed to areas where dropout rates are particularly high.

  • The term 'best teachers' sounds discriminating. There are many reasons for children dropping out of schools. All of them need to be addressed simultaneously. All teachers across the country need to be trained and empowered to handle the dropout issue instead of focusing and relying upon few best teachers.

Statement: Social workers will help track student attendance and work towards bringing dropouts back into school.

  • Social workers should not be held responsible for tracking student attendance or bringing dropouts back into school. Government officials must accept the responsibility and implement the measures with help of social workers / community participation.
  • Data storage and data security issues must be addressed in tracking of the children.
  • It is recommended to have frequent checks on data management from validation point of view and to avoid duplication.
  • Redressal mechanism must be explicitly designed and declared to report issues of non inclusion, errors, discrimination and inefficiency of the tracking system.

Statement: Consolidating existing stand-alone primary, upper primary, secondary, and higher secondary schools - especially those that may have too low an attendance to be sustainable on their own - into composite schools/school complex whenever possible.

  • Consolidation of schools in the past has gone against access to schools, especially in the rural areas. Schools having low attendance are often found to be playing important role in specific regions for children from marginalised communities. Empowering low attendance schools without relocating or consolidating them is important.

Statement: Bicycles will be provided to older children, especially girls, as necessary in order to enable educational access. Cycle rickshaws could also be provided to local community members (such as a parent of a child in the school), who would be hired and paid a stipend for ensuring the safe transport to school of 2-4 young children each.

  • Practically bicycle is not safe for children, because of traffic conditions in the cities. It is not safe also because roads are not safe, both in rural and urban areas.
  • Cycle rickshaws is an outdated mode of transport across the country which also involves unfair human labour. Such concepts should not be promoted or recommended in national policies.
  • School transportation is primarily and necessarily responsibility of the Government. School Principal/staff or local Government officials must be accountable for day-to-day availability and functioning of school transportation facility, with monitoring from the members of School Management Committee or Transportation Committee, consisting of the Principal, students' representative, parents' representative, NGO representative, etc.
  • Specific budgetary provisions must be declared by the State as well as local Government towards universal school transportation facility.

Statement: P3.3 Supporting hostel facilities

  • This point completely ignores need of seasonal hostels for migrant children across the country. Clear guidelines and budgetary provisions are expected for setup and functioning of seasonal hostels.

Statement: P3.4 Ensuring security

  • Important concepts like Child Protection Policy, Complaint Box in schools, rapid and efficient redressal mechanism, training programs for self-defence, etc. should be discussed and outlined under security at schools.
  • School safety needs to be viewed in a holistic manner, home to school and school to home. Comprehensive School Safety on natural and human-made disasters and everyday risks needs to be integrated into the curriculum to create a culture of safety.
  • Safety needs to cover infrastructural, personal protection and risk reduction education.

Statement: P3.7 Tracking out-of-school children

  • Government of Maharashtra has launched format of Education Guarantee Card through a circular dated 01/10/2015. This is to maintain records of attendance and learning outcomes for seasonal or frequent migrant children. The same format can be applied across the country and education can be guaranteed for every child between 3 and 18 years of age.

Statement: P3.9 Hiring of health workers to school complexes will be prioritised in areas with widespread malnutrition, disease, and lack of sanitation in order to ensure the well-being of children and as a consequence their attendance and progress in school.

  • Local Government and existing sanitation departments must be made accountable for sanitation facilities and maintenance in schools. Introducing new entity like Health Workers is likely to create confusion and loopholes in implementation.

Statement: P3.10 In cases of children or adolescents who have been out of school for multiple years, sustained programmatic initiatives will be undertaken to provide them meaningful education and training opportunities. Strengthening of institutional capacity for expanding second-chance educational opportunities will be accorded priority, including vocational education and skills development opportunities (e.g. market-driven courses to make them rapidly employable).

  • Emphasis should be on bringing all children below 18 years of age into mainstream of education. Offering 'market-driven courses to make them rapidly employable' is likely to create child labour, distracting their focus from learning to earning at early age.
  • Vocational courses should be designed considering regional parameters, traditional occupations and local availability of resources and opportunities.

Statement: P3.12 To make it easier for both governments as well as non-governmental philanthropic organisations to build schools, to encourage local variations on account of culture, geography, and demographics, and to allow alternative models of education such as gurukulas, paathshaalas, madrasas, and home schooling, the RTE Act requirements for schools will be made substantially less restrictive.

  • RTE Act requirements for schools have ensured equal and minimum access of infrastructure and quality of education to children across the country. All the efforts to improve on these aspects must be made in addition to the RTE Act and not by substantially reducing the requirements.

Chapter 7: Efficient Resourcing and Effective Governance through School Complexes

Statement: It will be up to the individual State governments to group schools into school complexes according to the population distribution, road connectivity, and other local considerations. Therefore the size and composition of the school complexes can vary, but the grouping must ensure convenience of access for students and families, administrative ease for the State government, and a support system for teachers and principals.

  • In remote and hillside areas of rural India, basic infrastructure like proper roads, mode of transportation is a big challenge till date. Considering this fact, schools have been established attracting the communities who are at peripheral of the society. In this context, the concept of school complex fails to fulfill the objectives of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Convenience of access for students and families must be given more importance over administrative ease for the State Government.

Statement: The principal of the secondary school will be the head of the school complex. S/he will be endowed with administrative, financial and academic powers to oversee the coordinated development of all the schools within the complex.

  • Existing structure of public schools has already left the principles with excessive responsibilities and administrative burdens. It is practically impossible for principal of any one school to oversee activities of 10 to 20 schools (at different locations) without adequate administrative support staff (as described in P7.5.4).

Statement: The grouping of schools across the country into school complexes will enable the sharing of resources across schools including subject teachers, sports, music and art teachers, counsellors, social workers and so on, and also material resources such as laboratories, libraries and so on. School complexes will be used for increased, improved resourcing of ICT equipment, musical instruments, sports equipment, sports fields etc. - all these resources would thus now be shared and therefore be available to a much larger number of students than is possible today.

  • According to the RTE Act 2009, every government school must be equipped with all necessary equipments and resources for learning of the students. Sharing of these resources will lead to restricted or no access for children from certain schools, especially in rural areas.
  • Sharing of physical resources such as sports fields, sports equipments, musical instruments etc. shall require transport of children from one school to another, multiple times in a day or a week. It is important to note that adequate transport facilities are not available at present for children to attend one school everyday.
  • Also, human resources like art teachers, special subject teachers, etc. cannot perform efficiently if asked to teach students from schools located at distance from each other.
  • It is not advisable to share teachers in clusters as it is not supportive to child friendly environment. Instead of this, teachers should get regular inputs, training from the Government, for empowerment of teachers and more effective outcomes.
  • Laboratories, libraries, playgrounds must be made available at each school, as mentioned in the RTE Act 2009.
  • Overall, the concept of school complex mentioned in DNEP is very ideal and dreamy. It should be revised and made realistic as per current situations. The decentralised small school units are reachable for the larger community and are quite effective for child-centric and quality education.

Statement: First, the small size of schools makes it economically suboptimal and operationally complex, to allocate and deploy all the resources necessary to run a good school. Second, small schools present a systemic challenge for governance and management. Third, schools with small number of students and few teachers, are educationally sub-optimal.

  • As per experience in the past, small schools are manageable and have set processes. Instead of introducing new concept of school complex, the State should strengthen running system, which is evolved through a lot of experiences over the years.

Statement: P6.6. Education of children from urban poor families:

  • Apart from Focused efforts on educational access, Role of social workers and counsellors, and Curricula that take into account the needs of the urban poor, it is also important to provide financial support to the families for education of their children. This could be in the form of scholarships for promoting education so that the children do not have to work for earning an income for the family. Such scholarships can also ensure continuation of education, especially for girls. For example, a girl child attending school up to 12th grade shall receive certain scholarship every month, for which the family will ensure her attendance and several problems like dropout, child labour and child marriage can be avoided.

Additional Inputs:

  • Formation of Autonomous Education Research Board at State Level: There are several best practices in education, awareness, access, inclusion, languages, migration, transport and other aspects with regards to educationally deprived children in urban and rural areas. These initiatives are designed and implemented by nonprofit organisations as well as experimental schools. The Government should take into account experiences, experiments and best practices while handling regional and universal challenges in education. We suggest formation of a State Level Committee consisting of Government officials, public representatives and non profit organisation representatives. The committee shall collect details about challenges and experiments in education and shall try to universalise them across the State. This should be an autonomous body which must be consulted before making any substantial changes in the curriculum, teacher training or other aspects influencing access, inclusion and quality of education in the State.

Submitted by:
Mandar Shinde, Pune
Mobile: 9822401246
E-mail: shindemandar@yahoo.com


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