Aiming the Future

Proper infrastructure as an imperative to implement NEP 2020
"It is painful to see the pathetic situations in education sector and more so, when all of us remain as mute spectators." [Image for representational purpose only]
"It is painful to see the pathetic situations in education sector and more so, when all of us remain as mute spectators." [Image for representational purpose only] Wikimedia Commons/ U3167879

Last week, during our I-STEM Program which was in collaboration with IISc Bangalore, one of our student and now a faculty in one of the old colleges of the city says that she had 12 students in class, who wanted to visit Physics Laboratories at NIT Srinagar.

But surprisingly, of them 3 students are in Ist year, 4 in IInd year and 5 in 3rd year. When asked about this low enrollment, she replied that our college is surrounded by many new colleges and the enrollment in them is also poor. So is the situation in other colleges and schools, particularly in cities/towns.

A primary/middle school having infrastructure much better than a degree college has less than a dozen students enrolled from underprivileged sections and a galaxy of teachers, capable to teach in secondary schools even in colleges.

It is painful to see the pathetic situations in education sector and more so, when all of us remain as mute spectators.

I feel it an obligation and it is commission on all of us particularly on academicians to suggest the government regarding reforms in education sector for the greater good of society. All of us say that students are our future but failed to read even a small suggestion paragraph till now. There is nothing wrong to correct mistakes and/or in setting the things right at any time of life either in government or in private machinery and for that even in individual life.

An old case of decades is being corrected / set right in judiciary by our Courts. So, it is legally and politically correct to set the things right at any time of life. Even proper planning at times fails and it is not too late to put the system in place if need arises.

People at the helm in both higher and lower education need to sit down coolly and sincerely, nonetheless peacefully. Rationalize the infrastructure district-wise after many rounds of sittings and suggestions from local administration.

Give teachers one week refresher course in universities to identify capable academic leaders who will be given independent assignments as per NEP. The team to rationalise the infrastructure needs to be from different sections including engineering, public works and from both wings- lower & higher education.

NEP 2020 proposes School Complexes or Clusters to improve the standard of education and administration in a robust manner. Within a radius of 3 to 5 miles, there can be one Secondary School and multiple schools that offer foundational / preparatory / middle school grades.

Resources like libraries, science laboratories & equipment, computer labs, sports facilities and equipment, hostels, housing area, play grounds etc., can be shared. Teachers, counselors, technical and maintenance staff can be shared.

Composite elementary schools up to grade 8 with one section for each grade, should ideally have 200-300 students and nine teachers (including head teacher). Schools including secondary classes should have at least 400 students, preferably multiple sections at secondary levels, and 15 teachers to have subject-wise teachers as per requirement.

The failures of the public school system calls for an overhaul of the structure of schooling particularly in J & K.

New Education Policy gives significant attention to the infra development of the country’s Schools, Colleges, Universities and every other element that participates in the nation’s formal education. With innovative concepts like School complexes or Clusters, public-private participation, together with the considerably enhanced budget allocation and committed government machinery, a highly improved schooling infrastructure does seem a closer reality.

The location of a school has an enormous significance and it should be set up in a suitable atmosphere. It should be far away from the noise and the polluting atmosphere where the child can easily absorb what is being taught in school.

The ambience should be calm, spacious with good amenities and utilities in a visually appealing landscape. Rationalizing the infrastructure may help to solve these problems, but mere consolidation is not going to do the job. The government needs to take on improving school infrastructure on a war footing, like it did for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan.

We are fast-progressing nation, especially with respect to all-around Infrastructure development and we need to move forward as quickly as possible.

Shah M A is teaching Nanotechnology at NIT Srinagar.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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