New Initiatives, Old Concerns

The School Education Department's move to create school complexes should translate into action on ground for better governance of schools
Students inside Saidpora High School in north Kashmir’s Sopore. [Representational Image]
Students inside Saidpora High School in north Kashmir’s Sopore. [Representational Image]File/GK

The School Education Department (SED) has formulated School Complexes across J&K UT for "efficient resourcing to boost school governance.

The move has been taken while taking a cue from the 50-year-old Kothari Commission Report and also in terms of Part-I, Chapter 7 of National Education Policy (NEP)- 2020 which mentions "Efficient resourcing and Effective Governance through School Complexes" for effective sharing of resources.

Besides other initiatives like resource sharing, the department has framed the Academic Monitoring Committee (AMC) under the initiative which will be supervised by the concerned Joint Director School Education Department (SED) and will monitor all the academic activities through.

The AMC will have a Principal as its Chairman, Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) and a subject specific masters from the high and higher secondary nominated by Complex Head as the members of the committee. Also a faculty member from each DIET teaching, to be nominated by Principal DIET, will be its expert member.

It is not the first time when such committees have been set up by the SED for academic monitoring of the schools.

We have seen such initiatives in the past as well wherein the department constituted inspection committees for the schools. But the initiative died a silent death following the change of guard in the administrative department a few months ago.

As per the fresh order, the committee will impart academic support to schools and monitor learning of children by means of school visits and capture school academic processes.

The department has devised a proper mechanism on papers to implement the new initiative on the ground.

Under the initiative a format, School Academic Tracker, will be devised by SCERT or Samagra through which a School Performance Index (SPI) will be compiled based on learning management, classroom culture, activity pedagogy, community involvement besides involvement of heads of the institutions.

Further, a monthly review committee will be organized by the concerned cluster head among the committee members for recording and tracking the progress of the academic achievements of the students and the academic support provided in the cluster.

On the basis of the monthly review, the teachers will be imparted training at the respective DIETS as per the subject specific needs.

Having said this, the department, instead of recommending training for teachers, should constitute another committee to check the credentials of the employees posted in DIETs and ascertain their contribution in the academic improvement in the schools.

Under the new initiative of the Complex system of schools, the Committee will conduct academic inspection of all the schools within the complex by formulating an inspection roster and instructing school heads within the school complex to check the schools falling under their jurisdiction.

The concept of formulating Complex school is nothing new. The government in 2015 had taken an initiative of de-walling of schools with a motive to monitor the primary and middle schools by the principal of the nearby higher secondary school, as a cluster head.

But the initiative was shelved for unknown reasons before it could start working on the ground.

So the point here is that the government has done all such experiments in the department in the past while claiming to bring reforms in the academics of the school going children.

Under the new initiative, the department claims to train the teachers at DIETs as per the requirement but at the same time it has failed to go for an academic audit in the DIETs which has become a resting place for many influential teachers.

Unless, the department does not post teaching faculty on merits in DIETs, the outcome of teacher training and improvement in learning outcomes of the students will be a distant dream.

Now going to the another aspect of the order, the ACM will be authorised to inspect examination results of all students within the complex.

Also, the committee will be responsible to strengthen the relationship complex through facilitative and coordinated efforts in cooperative manner to improve the quality of education.

The committee will be entrusted to formulate innovative processes for improving methods of teaching-learning and formulate a plan to encourage teaching faculty in various schools of the complex to share following school resources on need basis in order to strengthen the complex schools.

From academic monitoring to conduct of exams and to declaration of the result, the Academic Monitoring Committee has been assigned with greater responsibilities to bring reforms at the ground level.

If we look at the composition of the committee, it will have a DIET faculty as an expert member. But the question here is on what basis the concerned faculty of DIET will be declared as an "expert member". Will it be gauged on the basis of his research done during his tenure in the DIET or it will be decided on the basis of academic visits to the schools or just the number of years he remained posted in DIET irrespective of his/her contribution.

Another aspect which the committee will look into is to improve the foundational literacy and numeracy to make the Pre- primary and Primary education a qualitative and result oriented.

This will be done by implementation of all FLN guidelines under NIPUN Bharat and other policies and schemes as introduced by the Government of India and J&K Government as well.

The committee has been tasked to conduct enrollment drives in all schools and ensure that no child remains out of school.

Under the new initiative, the department, at the end of every academic session will declare one of the Elementary Schools as "School of the Year" at zonal, district and divisional level based on School Performance Index (SPI), based on online academic monitoring of school tracking.

Under this the schools with good learning level will be tagged as Green while the schools with average and below average learning levels will be tagged as Yellow and Red.

Having said this, the department must take the new initiative to the logical end so that it serves a purpose in a real sense. The initiative should not meet the same fate as was seen in the previous initiatives. As long as such initiatives do not translate into action on the ground, expecting tangible results from them will be a distant dream. The department must move beyond papers and ensure that timelines are fixed for implementation of such initiatives, coupled with follow-up on the action taken thereof.

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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