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Maharashtra’s ‘selfie’ initiative to curb drop-outs delayed

Although it was scheduled to begin from the first week of this month, education officials said that the initiative might begin from next week.

mumbai Updated: Jan 04, 2017 00:39 IST
Puja Pednekar
 According to the November 2 government resolution, teachers must divide students into groups of 10 and take selfies with each group at the beginning of the week.
 According to the November 2 government resolution, teachers must divide students into groups of 10 and take selfies with each group at the beginning of the week.(HT Pic for Representation)

Maharashtra teachers will have to wait a bit longer to bring out their selfie sticks as the state education department’s initiative, which requires teachers  to take selfies with students to prevent them from dropping out, has been delayed as the software to upload the pictures isn’t ready yet. Although it was scheduled to begin from the first week of this month, education officials said that the initiative might begin from next week.

The initiative announced in November last year proposed an unusual step to tackle truancy and drop-outs: teachers should take selfies with students on Mondays and upload them on SARAL-government’s online database for education. 

 According to the November 2 government resolution, teachers must divide students into groups of 10 and take selfies with each group at the beginning of the week. From the third Monday, they have to only click photos of students who don’t attend school regularly. Using a software, teachers will name every child in the picture and provide their Aadhar number. This will help the department in identifying students that stay absent frequently.  

Although some schools clicked selfies when they reopened on Monday after the Christmas break, they were unable to upload pictures. “We took pictures but didn’t know where to upload them since we didn’t receive any circular from the department. We have saved the pictures on our phones for now,” said the headmistress of a civic school. She added that teachers found it tough to take the pictures, “Many of the teachers are not good photographers, and they struggled to fit 10 students in one frame.” 

Teachers complained that they are clueless about the initiative, as the department hasn’t issued any official circulars. “It is unclear whether the initiative extends to private schools. We are waiting for instructions from the department, so we didn’t take pictures on Monday,” said a principal of a Kandivli school, requesting anonymity. 

Education officials confirmed that the initiative is off to a late start. “The software for uploading the selfies is still not ready. We expect the work will be completed by Monday,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary of school education. He added that schools will receive detailed instructions soon.

The initiative drew flak from activists and teachers, who termed it ‘impractical’. “I fail to understand how taking selfies will lower Maharashtra’s drop-out rate,” said Herambh Kulkarni, Pune-based activist.”The government is yet to introduce a well-thought out plan to keep students in school.”

Maharashtra’s previous initiative to conduct one-day surveys to identify out-of-school kids and enroll them in schools also didn’t meet with success. It was criticised for being conducted in a haphazard manner. 

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