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Myths About Quality Education In India #YouthMatters

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By Achilles Rasquinha:

Myth 1: A change in teacher-student ratio will increase quality education

Right to Education Act (RTE) aims for an ideal pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1 for primary level and 35:1 for upper-primary level. But, the current ratio of 49:1 for primary level and 59:1 for upper-primary level statistically shames us and remains a severe problem in Uttar Pradesh schools. The ratio in Chandigarh reaches to a whooping 80:1.

Interestingly, studies show no correlation between teacher-student ratio and quality education. Also, teaching is not regarded as a preferred career option. So, a simple way of generate interest in teaching is to raise the income of teachers to create meaningful economic opportunities.

education

To improve learning inputs for qualitative education, here are a few cost-efficient strategies:

Increasing teacher’s incentives:

This remains a government versus teacher propaganda. Consider a system that equates a teacher’s pay to his or her student’s attendance. The method remains fair to both the parties as teachers individually attempt to address each pupil and understand their ability. There isn’t a necessary track-down over individual teaching skills as it remains evident in pupil’s attendance.

Teaching according to a child’s ability:

Grouping students according to their ability and not by class or age have experimentally proven that a student’s learning improves impressively. This implementation needs patience, understanding and tolerance.

Volunteering for educational programs:

Volunteering during non-teaching hours for educational initiatives like field trips, research on curriculum been taught and summer camps are pure sources of effective increase in quality education. Recognition over participation and volunteerism is in abundance within local societies.

Myth 2: Physical structure increases quality education

Recent statistics provided by the Voice of People, an organisation working on RTE which conducted a survey on 255 schools covering 18 districts, shows that:

– only 9 per cent of the upper primary schools have proper furniture
– merely 8 per cent schools have a separate room for library
– more than 50 per cent of the schools have no proper usable toilets. 9 per cent have no toilet facilities.
– 38 per cent of schools have no boundary fencing while 9 per cent of them have damaged boundary walls.

Many other shocking statistical data denotes poor physical infrastructure of the common patshaala in India. But an improvement in such physical structure too has shown no correlation to the betterment of education output. Here is one strategic method with regard to improvement in physical structure which surely increases not only quality education but is also an efficient way to manage physical infrastructure.

The minimum required classroom area is about 300 square feet but in case of smaller classrooms which still exist in India, here is a technical formula:

PTR (Pupil Tutor Ratio) = (Area of the classroom in square feet-60/8)

This also highlights the futile emphasis on decreasing the PTR, and proves a relative relation between the size of a classroom and PTR. Such an initiative has been adapted by the Gujarat RTE and has done wonders. Technical methods such as these which attack the crucial core of the problem and not the external physical significance are cost-efficient as well as very simple to implement.

Myth 3: How about implementing some more initiatives?

The Midday Meal Scheme is currently implemented in almost 85.6 per cent schools but the scheme remains one of the most corrupt malpractices in India. A simple solution is that the quality of food under the MDM scheme must be checked on the spot and a detailed report regarding the lack of content must be submitted at the earliest.

The MDM scheme is an impressive initiative to widen the educational structure and surely has significant benefits in acting as a ‘supplementary nutrition’ for children. However, another problem within this scheme is that, most of the school activities exist before lunch time. So, MDM may not really feature itself to be ‘nutrition’ for learning students.

Solution:

– Provide beneficial nutrition in the morning before students engage in their school activities for the day.

IIT Madras on monitoring this scheme has provided a notable quote, “one fruit and one glass of milk for every child every day.

Implementations of initiatives aren’t necessary, but improvising the existing ones using low-cost and effective methodology will provide a better path towards quality education. Being one of the largest providers for elementary education, RTE fails to deliver quality education. Once the improvements are made, we can move ahead and implement extra-curriculum, ‘going beyond the usual textbook’ debate, vocational training and guidance.

Education is the stem that reaches every part of the nation’s output, be it societal changes or economic growth. As the saying goes, Padega India, tabhi toh badega India!

Part 1

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  1. Raj

    I don’t think the Government should be in the business of providing education even at a primary-level. If it wants, it can pay a part of a student’s fees through a voucher system. But the actual delivery of education should be a for-profit private initiative. All the above issues can be solved or mitigated by the increased participation of private enterprises which tend to take care of their responsibilities rather well. In the case of Government schools , the issue is always the same : You have a bunch of people(bureaucrats) spending someone else’s money (i.e. tax-payer’s) on someone else (i.e. the poor kids). That never works.

    1. Karmanye Thadani

      Well, I agree that the government should allow for-profit education. As for government-funded vouchers for the poor in private schools, that has already started in India. But in a country like India, the private sctor alone cannot be expected to reach out to the highly backward rural and tribal belts. In fact, there are also government schools that are better than many private schools.

    2. Raj

      You underestimate the power of private enterprise. If every child in the even the most backward areas represents a revenue stream of X 1000 Rs. a month (assured by the Govt. through vouchers), private players will come running.
      Of course the Government will have to provide the basic law, order and security. But I think it’s better that the Govt. concentrates primarily on on this rather than running a welfare state.

    3. Raj

      Yes there are some Govt. schools that are better than private schools, but they run through autonomous bodies. I don’t have an issue with Govt. setting up the infrastructure but the Govt. should not actually run the school.

  2. Karmanye Thadani

    Commenting on the article, no offence to the author, but this is a completely illogical article – recommending paying teachers based on students’ attendance, asserting that less students per teacher in a classroom does no good to the quality of education, failing to understand how midday meals help retain children in school till the lunch break – simply ridiculous! Yes, the RTE Act has many flaws and I have worked on the same professionally and its laying too much premium on infrastructure requirements poses a threat to low budget private schools, but not even the most pathetic Govt. schools – if there’s something this article ought to have highlighted, it was that!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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