Education is a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability, notes World Bank Education.
Despite several challenges in providing education to children in the third world countries, developing countries have made tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom and the majority of children worldwide are now in primary school. Nevertheless, some 260 million children are still out of primary and secondary school. (WBE)
Education, having been a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian constitution, the RTE Act-2009 hasn't yet achieved the target in the country.
As far as, J&K is concerned, post abrogation of Article 370 in August, 2019, the RTE Act-2009 was automatically extended to the UT of J&K. Since then a lot of reforms have been taken to improve the quality of Education.
Besides, NEP-2020 unleashed fresh vitality to various initiatives in Education for improvement in the quality aspects.
So far as Teacher Education Institutes in J&K are concerned, the highest educational authority in the form of SCERT, J&K by merging 2 erstwhile SIEs (Kashmir and Jammu) along with 20 associated DIETs, was established in September, 2020.
Although the Institute is still in its transition phase, yet it cannot be ruled out that it is trying hard to meet the expected standards in training of teachers and HoIs, material development and research, which are its primary domains of work.
There's no doubt that SCERT, J&K is supported by 20 DIETs one each at the district level to execute its work in free and fair way. Yet it is not possible to reach the grassroots level until DIETs are empowered with Block Resource Centres (BRCs) and Cluster Resource Centres (CRCs).
In this regard, NEP-2020 says, “Academic matters, including academic standards and curricula in the State will be led by the SCERT (with close consultation and collaboration with the NCERT), which will be reinvigorated as an institution.
The SCERT will develop a School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) through wide consultations with all stakeholders. The SCERT will also lead a “change management process” for the reinvigoration of CRCs, BRCs, and DIETs which must change the capacity and work culture of these institutions … developing them into vibrant institutions of excellence.” (Para 8.5, clause d)
Thus, from the above, it's clear that "change management process" in school Education as far as academic matters, etc. are concerned must start from SCERT through DIETs, BRCs and CRCs.
In J&K, we have 125 BRCs and 1495 CRCs which are presently non-existent and completely nonfunctional for unknown reasons. An outlay of Rs. 6755.87 lakh was estimated for Academic support through BRC & CRC including Rs.2058.55 lakh for BRC and Rs.4697.32 lakh for CRCs as per norms of the Samagra Shiksha scheme. (PAB Minutes-JK, 2022-23)
The re-invigoration of BRCs/CRCs as per Samagra Shiksha Framework implementation will help in the following:
i. regular academic inspection visits to school,
ii. providing training and on-site support to schools and teachers,
iii. monitoring the number of hours of teaching by teachers in a week,
iv. ensuring introduction and sustenance of innovative pedagogies in schools (art-integrated/sport-integrated/activity-based/experiential/story-telling-based/ICT-integrated learning, etc.),
v. ensuring effective use of all TLM provided to schools,
vi. facilitating and guiding preparation of no cost or low cost teaching aids/tools by school teachers,
vii. ensuring continuous and effective integration of ICT through efficient use of ICT equipment and ICT based educational resources,
viii. monitoring the progress of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
ix. ensuring learning enhancement activities/learning enrichment activities in school,
x. ensuring individualized support for CWSN and slow learners,
xi. ensuring 50 hours of CPD for all teachers and head teachers,
xii. ensuring all directions, circulars, information, etc. percolates down to the last teacher in the last school,
xiii. ensuring constructive parental/volunteer engagement by schools,
xiv. ensuring schools are undertaking safety audit
xv. ensuring timely and correct reporting on KPIs by schools
Thus, there is urgent need of strengthening of BRCs and CRCs as it would enable SCERT and DIETS to play a pivotal role in monitoring and improving the quality of education. Besides, this is covered under PGI indicator 2.1.15
To conclude, BRCs/CRCs have a significant role in ensuring the implementation of the NEP-2020, especially initiatives like NIPUN/FLN as BRCs and CRCs are the most critical units for ensuring and evaluating the quality of education at school level on a constant basis and provide timely remedial interventions.
(Dr Jan Mudasir Gul, Faculty member, SCERT, Kashmir)
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.