Recommendations to improve standard of education and learning outcomes in Govt schools in Karnataka

  1.  Implement the comprehensive Child Protection Policy KSCPP in its entirety and with sincerity in every Government School across the state. This would involve
    1. large spend on infrastructure to make basic infrastructure available and make schools physically safe spaces for children
    2. large investment in immersive training for changing teacher mindsets to understand their role in a child’s life
    3. investment to provide strong counselling support for children, parents and teachers to learn preventive and coping measures for all forms of abuse
    4. While it is the Government’s responsibility to fund all of this, today there is a great opportunity to get into a PPP model with corporates to enable this through CSR funding.
  2. The annual maintenance amount given to schools is abysmal. In some cases as low as Rs 12,000/- per year for complete maintenance and upkeep of school including staff salaries! This needs to increase significantly. However, stringent checks and balances on usage of this amount is essential.
  3. For improvement in learning outcomes
    1. the starting point needs to be the Balwadis. We must increase our investment in early childhood education and nutrition. Today the Anganwadi workers are paid abysmal salaries and they are neither trained nor interested in imparting any kind of education for children.
    2. Key focus in Grades 1 to 5 must be on pure literacy and numeracy skills. The Nali Kali is a great example of a great model with extremely poor implementation. What it lacks is proper assessment, reporting and corrective techniques in early education. A comprehensive, independent assessment system should be put in place to measure learning outcomes at all grade levels. Teachers must be made responsible for the learning of children. Children who do not meet the criteria to move into next grade level must be held back and given remedial coaching assistance to catch up.
    3. Teachers should themselves undergo frequent assessments to test their own ability to grasp concepts  (like ASSET exams taken by private school children) as also their ability to adapt new teaching techniques. More than 50% teachers will fail such tests and many of them are not even “trainable”. There has to be a mechanism to weed out such teachers and offer jobs to more deserving candidates. There is a severe shortage of good teachers today and so there can be a short term and a long term approach to address this issue:
      1. In fact a large scale tie up with NGOs like TFI can solve this core problem. Instead of hiring more incompetent teachers, the Govt can simply outsource it to TFI. They will recruit, train, deploy, assess, remedy, monitor ….and improve learning outcomes! Just bringing in various audio visual aids which are not even used by teachers is of no use.
      2. The reason why we don’t create good teachers in our system is because only those who cannot do anything else end up becoming teachers. This has to change. Today the B.Ed degree itself is outdated, and so  we need world class institutions granting BEd degrees here. Most Teacher Training colleges today are private set ups ad money making machines not interested in improving their quality. The Govt must consider collaborating with best Teacher training institutions across the globe and bring them into Karnataka. Admissions to these colleges should be aspirational and students from these institutions must be directly absorbed in Govt Schools system with attractive salaries. This will change the entire complexion of teaching job and the stature of GovT School teachers. Excellent teachers alone can churn out excellent students.
  4. English must be offered as a medium of instruction starting Grade 4 in every Govt school. This insecurity of declining importance of Kannada is resulting in depriving the poorest sections what they need most-“the language of employability “
  5. The sheer number of Govt schools can be reduced and combined into fewer better quality schools. Instead of providing one primary school every two kms, provide one complete school (Grade 1-10) in every 10 km. Instead provide transport to children in collaboration with local transport bodies like BMTC.
  6. Today the system of having Higher Primary schools until grade 7 and then high schools getting children from Grade 8-10 is very unfair and demotivating. The primary schools have no responsibility for children’s learning outcomes and these children come into High School without basic numeracy and literacy skills. There is no hope for them of clearing Grade 10 exams and opting for any type of career.
  7. Personalised Career counselling and opportunities to get vocational training must be offered at Grade 8 level. This will motivate students to work towards a clear career goal, acquire real skills, boost their self confidence and enable them to become responsible citizens. Today’s high school students in Govt Schools are a distracted, confused, demotivated lot who have zero faith in their abilities. This is another area where working with NGOs will bring in tremendous benefits.
  8. Karnataka has a huge eco-system of NGOs working in many spheres of Education. Their interventions are random, not well coordinated and impact not assessed by an independent body authorized by the Education Department. This the key reason why in spite of so many interventions the learning outcomes are not improving.  The education department will do well to assess work of all NGOs across schools and work with them in a systematic manner to bring in positive change on a large scale. For example NGOs in Education sector can be categorized as:
    1. Direct academic intervention with children: e.g TFI
    2. AV teaching tools: Meghashala
    3. Hands on science: Agastya Foundation
    4. Sports for children: JustForKicks and so on…
  9. Similarly Corporate funding CSR can be channelized into priority projects in a meaningful manner rather than allowing corporates to bring in random interventions in school. Corporates should be encouraged to adopt a few schools and bring in holistic intervention the encompasses infrastructure upgrades, maintenance support, staffing support, support to bring in NGO programs etc.
  10. Government must create a comprehensive school ranking system and publish the rankings widely to encourage schools to improve themselves as also provide parents a clear choice even between Govt Schools.
  11. Parent engagement in schools is completely missing and the only effort made to increase this is by giving more freebies and doles which is totally ineffective and unsustainable. Treating parents with respect, using schools as centres to start community self help groups and bringing in educational programs like vocational skills and adult literacy programs is a good way to get parents more involved in the school. The SDMC today in most schools in Urban areas is not working. This needs to be strengthened and monitored closely.

Source: Whitefield Ready

Leave a Reply