The Department of School Education and Literacy is taking several steps to make school education job-oriented and qualitative. The Department is implementing a component of vocationalisation of secondary and higher secondary education under Centrally sponsored scheme of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) with an aim to prepare educated, employable and competitive youth for various sectors of the economy and global market. It also envisages to fill the gap between educated and employable, reduce the dropout rate at the secondary level and decrease the pressure on academic higher education. The scheme involves introduction of job-oriented vocational subjects in sectors like Retail, Automobile, Agriculture, Telecommunication, Healthcare, Beauty and Wellness, IT-ITes, Electronics, Security, Media and Entertainment, etc. along with the general education subjects from Class IX to Class XII.
For granting academic equivalence to students of Industrial training Institutes (ITIs) affiliated with National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT), Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an autonomous organisation of Ministry of Human Resource Development with the Directorate General of Training, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship on 15th July, 2016. In order to provide quality education to students at the secondary level, various interventions are funded under RMSA. These include provisions for additional Teachers to improve Pupil Teacher ratio, induction and In-service training for Teachers and Principals including leadership training, Maths and Science kits, ICT facilities in school, lab equipment and special teaching for learning enhancement.
Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the State Governments and UT Administrations are supported on several interventions to improve teaching standards, including regular in-service teachers’ training, induction training for newly recruited teachers, training of untrained teachers to acquire professional qualifications, additional teachers for improving pupil-teacher ratio, academic support for teachers through block and cluster resource centres, continuous and comprehensive evaluation to equip the teacher to measure pupil performance and provide remedial action wherever required, and teacher and school grants for development of appropriate teaching-learning materials, etc. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 specifies statutory duties and responsibilities of teachers and lays down the minimum qualifications for a person to be eligible for appointment as a teacher in elementary schools.
Under SSA, textbooks are provided to all children in Government/Local Body and Government aided schools, including Madarsas desirous of introducing the State curriculum, within an upper ceiling of Rs 150 per child at primary level and Rs 250 per child at upper primary level. The SSA norms also provide for two sets of uniforms to children from the deprived community viz. all girls, SC, ST and BPL boys, at Rs 400 per head. It also supports States/UTs on early grade reading, writing & comprehension, and early Mathematics programmes through a sub-programme namely ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ (PBBB) in Classes I and II.
Further the Government has launched Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan (RAA) programme on 09.07.2015, inter alia, as a sub-component of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and RMSA to motivate and engage children of the age group of 6-18 years in Science, Mathematics and Technology through observation, experimentation, inference drawing, model building, etc. both through inside and outside classroom activities. For improving the quality of school education, the School Standards & Evaluation framework, known as ‘Shaala Siddhi’ has been developed by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), to enable schools to evaluate their performance in a more focused and strategic manner and to facilitate them to make professional judgments for improvement.
In order to improve quality of education, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducts periodic national surveys of learning achievement of children in Grade III, V, VIII and X. Four rounds of National Achievement Survey (NAS) have been conducted so far for Grade V and three rounds for Classes III and VIII. These reveal improvement in learning achievement levels of pupils, in identified subjects from first round to fourth round. From the current year onwards, the Government has decided to conduct annual National Achievement Surveys covering all students from Class 1-8 in all Government and Government aided schools. The students learning assessment will be according to the Learning Outcomes developed by NCERT for all subjects covering all classes in the elementary cycle.
(The author is Director General (M&C), PIB, New Delhi. The article is based on the inputs received from Ministry of Human Resource Development)