TODAY -

Mission 'School Phagat Hanshi', A catchword well orchestrated

SK Singh *



This June 20, the news of ‘School Phagathansi’ hit headlines of local papers in Imphal. The Education Minister and also the CM took pains to emphasis the objective and also the core issues involved. They even went to the extent of earmarking funds, were it 19 crores of rupees, if I remember, specifically sanctioned by the Government of India.

The news of improving some schools were heartening to hear and my curiosity took me to the briefs highlighted to the public; among them the more prying ones being the ‘open invitation’ to desiring teachers to work in such identified schools.

I repeat, government opens arm to interested teachers to come forward to teach in such select schools, and most of the schools are in rather far off centres and most again are much below average standard from all conceivable considerations of ranking a school.

On the top of that a majority of these schools as of now are ranked too low in terms of performance let alone, basic infrastructure for a school to be called a school worth the name.

The first concern was for one, about the number, ‘60’ to be precise; won’t it sound too ambitious to attempt such a high target in one go as most of the identified schools are located far away from Imphal, the hub of all activities, be they schooling, not necessarily trade and business.

For the second, almost all the identified schools except for a handful of schools like TGHS School or CCHS school, could be graded as of now, as low-second-class or even third-class, in terms of ‘standard index’ of quality of students, of teachers and more of facility, the building, the environment, cleanliness, toilets and water. .

In addition, looking at the kind of basic infrastructure these schools possess this day, say, the buildings, the labs, the library and the like, one can increase the list of deficiencies which have to be improved. These need funds, certainly heavy; then the time frame within which the parents have to be impressed. These issues are not the end; more are in store to be tackled.

Posting of select teachers which is understandably the most crucial component would constitute a herculean task. My limited exposure to the ground realities in schools and colleges, the quality of teachers and more crucially, their commitment to teach and concomitant ingredients like punctuality, dedication etc. point to a scenario where the government has to force-land these teachers to the far-off schools .

Under such a scenario, the call of the government to the teachers to come forward may mostly end up with pressures for the few schools in and around Imphal, with hardly any opting for far off ones. Perhaps a way out could be a tenure-posting for a fixed time frame, say, three years in a school and to be posted to a better off location, of course nearer to Imphal.

The list of impossibilities would only be on the rise. Government schools in our part of the country are conspicuous by their very physical structure. The infrastructural deficiencies, the broken furniture, dilapidated buildings etc. should require huge funds and would need time.

Even where funds are aplenty, execution and quality, more often than not, are casualties and necessarily should be areas of concern. If the Model Schools are to be in position by next academic session, these areas call for immediate attention.

The most important ingredient still could be the, ‘taught’, the students. You cannot just bring around reasonably good students whom you consider could be groomed in these schools. They watch the environment, the preparedness and the quality of teachers in whose hands the parents would be prepared to admit their wards. And these qualities take time to build up.

The most fearful factor still looms large; the competence of the Head of the School, the Principal or the Head Master to administer the teachers and the taught is of crucial importance. Would he be not swayed away by the political masters in the course of his reign in the school or would he be allowed to stand firm to his commitment, constitutes the most challenging component for any such schools to stand erect.

Of course, he needs support from the higher authorities; how far will he get the required backing and guidance would be the deciding factor. These would be Heads would also need to be exposed to such courses as deemed necessary in reputed institutions.

Such practices are seen in the National Capital City when select Heads of schools are deputed to prestigious institutions like, the Cambridge and Harvard. The teachers too, a handful of them need to be trained.

Equipping the Head only with expertise would amount to half-baked cake. The more important issue is uplifting the morale of the several hundred workforces of teachers, officials and staff. Constantly engaging with them, listening to their views, sympathizing with their grievances, their problems would be indispensable.

Still another critical input could be connecting with the public, the parents; listening to them and even making them active participants in the affairs of the school. School Management Committees where parents are made important members should be allowed to function. An inbuilt system of supervisory team, the inspection force should too be critical for such missions.

The usual hierarchy of AIs, DIs and ZEOs as they are this day for such critical inspection and guidance would need to be overhauled, strengthened with more inbuilt mechanism. While many may not just fit into the system, a few need to be further skilled for critical input.

I am not trying to deface a major policy initiative of the government; I intend only to place the kind of core areas the authorities have to take care of in developing even one school located 3-4 km away from Imphal and the impossibilities that lie ahead in selecting teachers who can teach.

Reducing the target number could be one option, recalling the quality of existing facilities that includes the teachers, the staff. I only look forward to experiencing such modernized institutions next year.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 25, 2019.



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