Millennium Post

We do need good education

Swami Vivekanda's famously said about education that, 'We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one's own feet'. The promotion of quality education is indeed necessary for a developing country but unfortunately, our education policies do not match up to the required standards. The Gujarat government’s efforts with regard  to  the twin programmes called enrollment drive and quality education have succeeded in achieving desirable results in the education sector, especially in remote tribal areas where the dropout rate decreased by a sizable amount in the last decade.

Gujarat is known as a progressive and highly industrialised state. But very few people know that Gujarat has got 15 per cent of tribal population. It is because of this population and a large number of migrants that Gujarat lags in some social indicators such as education.

A decade ago, the state leadership took account of this and decided to aggressively spread mass awareness, not just for enrollment but for providing quality education.

After taking over charge as chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi's first priority was to improve the entire education system. Being a strong follower of Swami Vivekananda, he decided to concentrate fully on the education sector. Simultaneously, the importance of
Kanya Kelavani
(girls' education) was also on his mind. He decided that the whole government machinery should work on education awareness. The Shala Praveshotsav, started in 2003, is still being organised every year. All class II and above officers and all the ministers, MLAs and MPs and office bearers of district and taluka panchayats cover at least 15 villages within a period of three days every year at the time of admission in June.

The state government also provides hostel facilities with stipends for poor students. Additional training is also given to teachers  to motivate them. Government schools get 100 per cent results without coaching. A skill development programme is also organised specially in tribal villages. Sanitation facilities have been provided in all schools. Girls' toilets are constructed separately. Moreover, the school management committee, in which more than 50 per cent members are women, keep a watch on the school and ensure that not a single child  drops out.

The chief minister himself is very keen for the education of girls. Under the chief minister’s fund for this purpose, 28 crores were utilised for poor students who wish to study not only in elementary but in higher education also. More than 45,000 students have got the benefit till date.

Adopting this strategy, Gujarat has achieved a remarkable result in the education sector. Between 1991 to 2001, the female literacy rate in Gujarat had increased by only 9.16 per cent (1991: 48.64 per cent and 2001: 57.80 per cent), but between 2001 to 2011, the female literacy rate increased by 12.93 per cent (2001: 57.80 per cent and 2011: 70.73 per cent).

Overall literacy has also increased by 10.17 per cent in the last decade as compared to 7.85 per cent in the previous decade in spite of a higher base. The net enrollment of students in standard I in primary schools increased to 100 per cent and the dropout rate of children in standard 1 to 5 decreased from 17.83 per cent in 2002-03 to 2.09 per cent in 2010-11. Similarly, the dropout rate in standard 1 to 7 decreased from 33.73 per cent in 2002-03 to 7.95 per cent in 2010-11. The learning levels of students increased from 49.8 per cent in 2009 to 55.1 per cent in 2011. Some of the tribal districts, such as Dangs, showed an unusual increase in their literacy rate. The female literacy in Dangs increased from 48.51 per cent in 2001 to 68.75 per cent in 2011.

The greatest challenge in primary education is to improve the learning levels of primary children. Very often there are allegations that the students studying in standard 3 or 4 do not read and write or cannot do basic calculations. While this may be true of those students who are very irregular in school because of their poor socioeconomic back ground, it is also quite true that the teachers of primary schools need to be made accountable for the learning outcomes. Simultaneously, Gujarat government has also drawn full attention on 'Gunotsav' – quality education.

Gunotsav is a programme of annual rating of each and every primary school as well as each and every teacher. It uses a unique methodology of self-appraisal by the school based on the test of the student taken by the teacher himself as well as independent appraisal by officers of all departments of the government.

Gunotsav is an in-house attempt to undertake a mass scale rating of school as well as teachers. One definite advantage of Gunotsav has been that the teachers have become very conscious about teaching their students seriously in the class. At the time of the 2010 Gunotsav, it was noticed that many teachers, three days before the schools reopened, gave their students extra coaching so that their performance in Gunotsav improved.

The programme, which was started in 2009, has, within a span of one year, resulted in about a 17 per cent improvement in academic performance of the schools of the state as a whole. It has had a larger role of emphasising quality to teachers and the  community with considerable success.

It is the dream of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi that not a single child should remain uneducated in his state. He also dreams that efforts under his leadership get remarkable results. The response from remote areas is tremendous. Similarly, the country needs to focus on quality education in remote villages.

Nilesh Shukla is Deputy Director of Information, Government of Gujarat.
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