Opinion: Can selfies, biometrics pull education out of the doldrums?

Apparently, the order was aimed at improving the basic infrastructure of the primary schools as the court had also suggested such persons to contribute an amount equal to the fee paid in private schools, which could be used in improving the infrastructure of schools.
However, the officials were rattled. Obviously, they knew about the poor or substandard schooling system in the state – “dilapidated buildings with no boundary walls, electricity and teachers.”(HT image for representation)
However, the officials were rattled. Obviously, they knew about the poor or substandard schooling system in the state – “dilapidated buildings with no boundary walls, electricity and teachers.”(HT image for representation)
Updated on Aug 30, 2019 01:58 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | BySunita Aron

Way back in 2015, the Allahabad high court had directed all government employees to send their children to government-run primary schools so that they could comprehend the problems that ail the public schooling system in the state.

Observing that the condition of schools had not improved in the absence of real involvement of the administration, “as any person, who had some capacity and adequate finances, sends his child/children to elite or semi-elite primary schools, whether it is the district collector or police chief or any government sector,” the court had sought compliance from the chief secretary in six months.

Years have passed since then.

However, the officials were rattled. Obviously, they knew about the poor or substandard schooling system in the state – “dilapidated buildings with no boundary walls, electricity and teachers.”

Apparently, the order was aimed at improving the basic infrastructure of the primary schools as the court had also suggested such persons to contribute an amount equal to the fee paid in private schools, which could be used in improving the infrastructure of schools. But the government has never been short of funds. Only it lacks a fool-proof system to ensure quality education by dedicated teachers.

How can schools impart education with absent teachers? Roughly 25 per cent teachers remain absent while the unethical practice of bogus attendance or sub-letting jobs to others (ghost teachers) is also rampant. Salary hikes and postings in or near home district have failed to work either as a deterrent or stimulant.

The result: high drop-out continues to plague government schools despite attractive allurements in the form of mid-day meal, free tuition, shoes and uniforms.

I remember prominent educationist Gita Gandhi Kingdon mentioning the rising pressure on private schools, even in rural areas, with the number of elementary age children attending them increasing from 30 per cent in 2006 to 52 per cent in 2014.

This is despite the fact that most of the private schools in rural areas, often called Montessori schools, lack quality education.

Somewhere, the government policies are lopsided as many of the law makers, smitten by populism, fail to understand the desire or preference for quality education instead of free education. The entire discussion of fruits or biscuits for mid-day meal brings those who are hungry for food and not education.

In fact the governments populist free education fails as teachers go missing. Steps like CCTV cameras failed to bring teachers to schools.

Now, the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to introduce selfie attendance for teachers.

From this Teacher’s Day ( September 5 ), the 1.58 lakh primary and upper primary teachers of about four lakh schools, spread across the length and breadth of the state. will be marking their attendance, not once but thrice, by posting their selfie pics on Prerna App or miss the day’s salary.

Obviously there is opposition from recalcitrant teachers. While some fear misuse of their pictures, others are raising questions on its efficacy as well as durability in view of huge number of selfies that will be posted on the App.

The software has been successfully tested in few districts but its regular monitoring by the basic education officers will be a Herculean task though government proposes to distribute tablets to principals, who will later send pictures thrice – first of the morning assembly with the teachers, then during distribution of mid-day meal and then finally before the bell rings ‘chutti.’ Issues like poor network is also their worry.

Interestingly, while teachers will be sending selfies, the government is introducing biometric attendance for 15.61 million students and also for sweepers and other staff members. The panchayati raj department will monitor the process.

The government had earlier sent a delegation to three states -- Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat -- to study the biometric attendance model while selfie attendance for teachers is an innovation of the state. However many other software are available to track field staff.

I wonder why can’t the same be done for teachers?

But apparently selfies are really infectious!

During the 2019 general elections, Bhartiya Janata Party’s penchant for selfies was very much visible. All office-bearers were told to click selfies with beneficiaries of various public welfare schemes launched by Narendra Modi government and send to the party office. The party men could not fake data.

One wonders if ‘selfie-metre’ will ensure quality education by teachers.

Perhaps, the court should first ask the chief secretary to first ensure the government teachers sent their wards to public schools.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, January 23, 2022