The Delhi government is investing in building new schools and training teachers to rectify the education system’s biggest maladies — poor infrastructure and shortage of teachers. HT spoke to experts, parents, teachers and students to present a charter of demands for improving school education in the Capital.
1 Build more classrooms, fix broken furniture
Many govt schools conduct classes out in the open for want of more space, classrooms and furniture. Several of them are building classrooms on playgrounds. Missing or broken windowpanes, fans that don’t work, dirty and/or non-functional toilets are common sights, say students. The government will have to fix these essentials so that students and teachers are comfortable during the six-eight hours that they spend in schools every day.
2 Improve teacher-student ratio
On paper, Delhi govt schools have one teacher for every 42 students in. On the ground, there is no balance in teacher allocation. For instance, a school in Sonia Vihar has 128 students in one section of Class 10, whereas one of the classes in a Sarojini Nagar school has just 18 students. An overcrowded classroom is bound to suffer from student absenteeism and poor teaching quality. The government should fill up teacher vacancies to improve the teacher-student ratio, which will in turn improve teaching as well learning. It’s recent plan to transfer principals with good records to schools with poor performance should be implemented on a larger scale.
3 Fill up vacancies in administrative posts
Of the total 900 administrative posts in government schools, 700 are vacant. Teachers are forced to take up tasks such as replying to RTI queries, data entry and distributing books and medicines. It eats into their teaching and lesson-preparation time. Administrative vacancies should be filled at once to let teachers concentrate on teaching.
4 Add nursery/kg in municipal schools
At municipal schools, students directly join Class 1 at age 5. They miss 2 years of nursery and kindergarten, unlike counterparts from govt and private schools. 70% students in govt schools are from municipal schools. The 2 years of missed education can lead to a significant learning gap later. Ensuring that all students start secondary school at the same age will improve learning levels.
5 Supply free textbooks on time
Municipal and govt schools distribute free textbooks to students. But several of them don’t do it on time, sometimes six months late. Parents may not be able afford to buy them. Hence, students lag in studies. Also, students are given one set of free uniform for an entire academic year, including summer and winter. Fixing basics will improve student attendance and attentiveness.
6 Measure outcomes of students, teachers
Tests and activities under CBSE’s Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation are not spaced out evenly. A system to measure the outcomes of students as well as teachers should be devised. It should also check students’ understanding of the topic’s basics before the teacher can move to the next. The measuring should remain irrespective of the no-detention policy.
7 All schools should have nursery to class 12
Govt and municipal schools should have all classes from nursery/kindergarten to twelfth to ensure continuity of students’ assessment. At present, municipal school don’t have nursery classes. After Class 5, students have to switch to a govt school. A few govt schools start only from Class 6. A common directorate will ensure uniformity in teaching methods and policies.
8 Set up communication channels
An effective communication channel between the government and corporation as well as between teachers, parents and students is necessary. It will streamline work. Communication is crucial to address problems of teachers and students, and letting them know about government schemes.
9 Increase parental involvement in schools
Ever since a School Management Committee with parent representation was set up in every government school, their condition has improved, say students. Studies show that students perform better if parents are involved with their education. It is important to improve coordination between the committee and school authorities. SMCs should be set up in municipal schools as well so that parents can get involved at the foundation level itself.
10 Strengthen SCERT
State Council of Educational Research and Training is an important body responsible for training government teachers and preparing school books. The government should strengthen the body and improve resources available for it. Similarly, District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) should also be helped to train using innovative techniques.
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