UNIVERSALISATION OF ELEMENTARY EDUCATION IN UTTAR PRADESH
Suniti Rani Bora
Recent giant leap towards achieving quality education in the State of Uttar Pradesh was the launch of the centrally sponsored programme –‘Sarva Shiksha Abiyaan’ (SSA) in 2001 covering all 70 districts of Uttar Pradesh aiming at all children of 6-11 years to complete 5 years of schooling by 2007 and all children of 11-14 years to complete 8 years of elementary schooling by 2010.
U.P. Education for All Project Board (UPEFAPB) has evolved a management structure with a high degree of flexibility in administrative functioning. In a vast state like Uttar Pradesh with regional variations, the emphasis has been on conceptuality, local needs and decentralized planning. For the effective implementation of the programme, UPEFA also works in convergence and collaboration with other departments. As per the report of Overall Implementation Report, January, 2007 during 2005-2006, the total available fund with the state for SSA was Rs. 2484.88cr, out of which Rs. 2233.74cr was spent till March 2006.
In order to make schools accessible and within the reach of children, the State revised the previous norms and reduced the distance to 1 km for primary and 3 km for upper primary schools to be opened. In addition to this, an initiative was also undertaken in 1997-98 to evolve the cost-effective and environmentally sensitive designs of primary school buildings. Consequently, five new designs of primary school buildings-New Prototype Design, Bhorsi, Roshan Pura Design, Railway Ganj Design, Asigaon Design, and Bhamma Purva Design developed from ‘School Construction Innovation Fund’ have been provided under DPEP-II.
INCREASE IN ENROLMENT
According to the provincial data available under District Information System for Education, in Uttar Pradesh, the Gross Enrolment Ratio at primary level for boys and girls was 107.85% and 106.66% in 2005-06. The Net Enrolment Ratio for boys and girls was 98.29% and 97.17%.
The State Government launched cooked mid-day meal programme for nourishment of children in primary schools aims to provide minimum 300 calories and 8-12 gram protein to each child for at least 200 days in a year. The programme is administered by Mid-Day Meal (MDM) cells set up at State, Commissionary, and District levels and Village Education Committee (VEC) at village level. Task force, constituted at district and block levels, visits at least 5 schools every month for effective monitoring and supervision of the programme. The implementation of the Mid-Day Meal has ensured the increased in enrolment and retention of children.
Village Education Committee
For one of the major components of SSA is promoting the retention of children in the school, the emphasis has been on giving pre-eminence to people’s involvement, including association of non-governmental agencies and voluntary efforts, inducting more women in the planning and management of education. VECs play a major role in bringing the positive attitudinal change in people towards education and in mobilizing the community and motivating parents/ guardians to send their children to schools, especially girls and children from disadvantaged groups. They are also responsible for school construction and maintenance, purchase of materials, school mapping and micro- planning exercise, preparation of Village Education Plan and school management as well as teacher performance.
Promoting Girls’ Education
Programme of Education for Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) launched in 2003,
initiated the opening of
Strategy for bringing out - of- school children
With the annual growth in the school - age population, the ever increasing number of ‘out of school children’ within the formal education fold and lack of available places to keep pace, demands flexibility in school timings to adjust to the needs of such children who can not attend formal schools. Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) is one such scheme which envisages opening of centers for class 1 and 2 in habitations, with no primary school within a radius of 1 km and 30 children in the age group of 6 to 11 yrs. To foster ‘ownership’ of the scheme, the community has been assigned the responsibility to provide the space and accommodation for the center. Formal curriculum and textbooks are used in these centers. Each EGS center has an Acharyaji, a local candidate with minimum High School qualification, selected by VECs to teach children of class 1 and 2 with monthly honorarium of Rs.1000. In 2006-07, out of 5693 sanctioned EGS, 4985 sites have been selected and 4554 centers are operational.
Education of Children with special needs (CWSN)
The National commitment of providing free education to all children of the age group of 6-14 years will remain a distant dream unless children with special needs are included into the umbrella of education. Estimates indicate that 5-10% of children in the State either do not enroll in primary school or dropout due to a variety of physical or learning related disabilities.
this, early detection and integration of such children, medical and functional
assessment, supply of aids and appliances, special-teacher training programmes etc
are conducted in collaboration with various NGOs and Handicapped Welfare
Department. When the academic session starts, the identification and classification
of CWSN is generally done by non-medico persons like class teacher, resource
persons and iterant teachers, which is not very medically accurate. When such
children are examined by the doctors at the later stage, the classification
done by the non- medico persons often gets reshuffled. Therefore there is
difference between the number of identified CWSN and the number of integrated
children. For the first time. appointment of 171 single disability special
educators at districts level as resource persons and 924 itinerant teachers at
cluster level with the aim to provide support to CWSN in schools has been
initiated. SSA has also adopted a zero rejection policy which means that no
child having special needs should be deprived of the right to education. A
three month Residential Bridge Course has been introduced for severely disabled
children. The objective of the programme is to prepare children with visual and
hearing impairments for school through a readiness programme. Contents of these
bridge courses are mobility training, Braille reading and writing, social
integration, speech therapy, language development, lip reading, etc. These
children are prepared for class 1-5 depending on their learning levels. An
impressive initiative has been the conversion of all primary textbooks into
Braille script making learning process according to the needs of CWSN.
Conversion of upper primary textbooks is under process. Another step has been
the making of barrier free school buildings for physically handicapped children
with the aim to provide ramps in all primary schools. Also Rs.3.5crore has been
released to Handicapped Welfare Department for strengthening of 12 special
schools, seven workshops and establishment of Nursery schools for CWSN. Five nursery schools have been started in-
Improving the quality of elementary education is central to the SSA and teacher pupil ratio has a significant bearing on quality of education. To bring the State teacher pupil ratio of 1:49 to that of National level of 1:40, recruitment of teachers is being done in the State. For class 1 and 2, during 2001-2002 to 2005-2006; 1, 49, 868 para-teachers (shiksha mitras) and in 2006-07, 801 para-teachers were selected and have been placed in primary schools. The recruitment of para-teachers has reduced single teacher schools from 17% to 4%.
TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMMES
and capacity building of teachers lie at the core of all the quality programmes.
Teachers are regularly given various in-service and refresher course trainings focusing
various pedagogical areas. The modules
developed for the purpose are: 1. ‘Shikshakodaya’ module focusing on
motivating the teachers and improving their self image; 2. ‘Sabal’ emphasizing
on developing the content knowledge of primary teachers and equipping them to
use the new textbooks for Maths (class 2-3) in the classroom effectively; 3.Saadhan’
on effective use of textbooks in the classroom, up gradation of content
knowledge of teachers, use of new transitional methodologies, handling
multi-grade and multi-level teaching and preparation of content specific
teaching learning materials; 4.’Samridhha’ focusing Block and Cluster
Resource coordinators to carry out their responsibilities effectively at upper
primary level; 5. ‘Sankalp’ comprehensively talks about the leadership
qualities and roles and responsibilities of head master as the leader of the
school; 6. ‘
Textbooks and Teacher Guides
The next important step is improvement in classroom transactions and ensuring quality in children’s learning. Child friendly textbooks developed both for primary and upper primary grades are being used. Teacher guides based on these new textbooks have also been prepared to reinforce the child centered pedagogy. Teacher guides from class 1-5 on all subjects have been developed and distributed in all primary schools. Teacher guides of class 6 to 8 on six subjects (Hindi, English, Maths, Science, Social studies and Sanskrit) have been developed and distributed in all upper primary schools. All teacher guides have been translated into Urdu language to expand their reach to minorities’ schools. Attractive workbooks for grade 1 and 2 have also been developed with UNICEF assistance which would certainly improve learning opportunities of children.
Grading of Schools
School grading earlier was being done in the districts on the basis of parameters, which did not give priority to learners’ achievement levels. The aim of school grading was to create competitive spirit among the schools and direct action to be taken to improve the quality of education of the target school under grade 'C' and 'D'. School grading is based on learning level for which 55% marks have been provided. Three session exams have to be organized before grading, which are to be held in the month of Sept, Nov. and Feb. Grading to be done in the month of October, January and March on the basis of three session exams. 100 marks have been kept for grading. The provision of addition of 25% marks from 3 session exams with half yearly and yearly exam has been given in G.O. to maintain the importance of session exams.
*No detention policy is followed in class 1 and 2.
*Teaching of English as a subject from class 3 onwards.
*Free text books to all children.
*An annual grant of Rs. 2000/- to each primary school of the district for improving school environment by purchase of required materials.
* Repair and maintenance grant @ 5000 per school to schools of 70 districts.
*Annual grant of Rs. 500/- per teacher for development of locally suitable teaching learning materials.
*Remedial teaching course are conducted during summer vacation.
*Inclusion of one period for remedial teaching in regular time table of the schools.
While there is no doubt that the programme is making strides towards its super goals, there are certain concerns which need to be addressed in order to ensure maximum attainment of SSA goals. While the programme has demonstrated a fair degree of progress with regard to universalizing enrolment, teacher trainings, textbook development, improvement in infrastructure facilities in schools, time has come now to make a clear shift in focus towards addressing the other more critical parameters such as retention/ dropout, attendance, transition and learning levels. There is need to widen and deepen the range of investigations to include empirical studies, analysis of available data, assessment of impact of programme interventions and factors influencing the achievement of programme objectives.