‘My aim is to retain marginalized children in government schools’

State of Education

INTERVIEW

In an interview with Shabir Ibn Yusuf, Director School Education, Kashmir, M Shafi Rather, while admitting that all is not well with the government schools in Kashmir, says he wants to link marginalized families to programs of economic empowerment through free education.


There is a loss of accountability in our system and educational sector is no different. What steps are you taking to streamline the educational system which has been affected by the situation in Kashmir over the last two decades?
We have been expanding our educational reach, enabling physical and social access, addressing community dynamics and attracting children from all groups, especially marginalized groups. We have been developing transitional arrangement as a part of mainstream efforts, preferential treatment as in provisions of materials and giving out scholarship to girls and other children. We are also factoring in diversity, concept of common schooling, reservation for children in private schools, concept of school vouchers, and linking marginalized families to programs of economic empowerment.
We are also aiming to retain marginalized children in schools through appropriate, adequate or progressive pedagogy and through special attention, using language familiar to the child, valuing the knowledge of excluded communities, making learning contextual and meaningful. We want to ensure all children participate in learning.
We have now Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and they have been empowered by the government. They are inspecting the primary schools and this is also helping us to bring accountability. I am happy in this information technology age I am getting calls from Panchayat representatives and locals of areas where ever there is complaint. I myself speak to Chief Education Officers (CEO), Zonal Education Officers (ZEO) and headmasters about the problems. If any school is closed or people have problems, they inform me by calling on cell phone and we take immediate steps to address the problems.
There are schools in the city and towns where teachers outnumber the students. But in far flung areas you have scarcity of teachers. Why?
This is a fact that there is no rationalization. The problem is mostly in Srinagar. Here at some places teachers outnumber students. On the directions of Chief Minister, who is also our education minister, process of de-rationalization has been started to overcome the problem. At some places here in Srinagar there are five teachers and one student. I am hopeful things will be set in order in the near future. CM has ordered to relocate these teachers to needy places as soon as possible and we are at it.
Number of private schools is increasing. Why has the public lost trust in the state run schools?
I will clear some misconceptions. There are around eight lakh students studying in Government schools. Most of these students belong to average strata of the society. In private schools around three lakh students are studying and most of them are from upper class.
In our schools students are having almost free education. We provide them with Midday meals, free books and free uniform. The teachers in Government schools are well trained and I am proud of them. They work hard and that is paying. The students from Ananatnag, Baramullah, Kupwara, Budgam and other districts are bagging excellent positions in board exams. This is because of the hard work put in by teachers and accountability from the department.
I have directed the teachers to work in such a way that more and more students from our schools should compete in examinations like AIEEE, MBBS and other professional courses.  I too am proud to be a product of a Government school. My batch mates are heading different Government departments in bureaucracy. Due to militant uprising some two decades ago problems were faced by the Government schools and efforts are on to bring the education system back on track.
Teachers are found involved in tuition during duty hours. How do you plan to stop check this?
Tuition by Government teachers during the duty hours is totally unacceptable. I have zero tolerance for that. If there is any such case, people must bring it into the notice of CEO and strict action will be taken against such teachers.
Tell us about the central and state funded schemes for infrastructure development of the education sector. It is believed that funds get lapsed in certain schemes.
Yes there are some minor problems with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, but no funds are getting lapsed. During the past 5-6 years, we constructed 4000 school buildings, 1000 middle schools, 6000 additional rooms, 300 boundary walls and 40 Kusturba centers. We also upgraded 300 new schools and upgraded around 400 schools. Under RAMSA we upgraded 240 Middle Schools to High school level.
Teachers appointed under Rehbar-e-Talim (ReT) program are facing problems, especially about their transfers.
Reber-e-Taleem (ReT) scheme is like our backbone. It became one of the biggest sources for access to education in far-flung areas. It ensured presence of teachers in remote areas as the teachers from urban areas were reluctant to be posted in those areas. There are some pitfalls to this scheme and now we are transferring them after their regularization as they become the General Line Teachers (GLT). If a female teacher is married 50 kmrs away from her posting, we are trying to address her concern and at the same time we don’t want the school or the system to suffer. With ReT scheme we have succeeded.
Any message for the teachers?
CEOs, ZEOs and teachers must leave no stone unturned while delivering their duties. They must deliver in the system with utmost honesty and dedication.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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‘My aim is to retain marginalized children in government schools’

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