Proxy teachers, delivery of textbooks & poor infrastructure major challenges
KOHIMA, AUGUST 31: Nagaland Government has formulated an ambitious plan to attain 100% enrollment at the primary school level, and 100% literacy rate by 2030.
This is one of the 17 goals of the Nagaland SDG Vision 2030 document released by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recently in the State capital. The goal is Quality Education to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and eliminate gender and other disparities at all levels in education and ensure equal access to affordable and quality education as well as vocational training for all by 2030.
The aim is to build a State where students enjoy learning and teachers enjoy teaching, it said, adding that by enhancing opportunities for skill development, employability and entrepreneurship and building competencies for life and work, Nagaland will benefit from a population that has an increased skill capacity better able to embrace the modern economy.
The literacy rate of Nagaland is 79.55%, which is above the National Literacy rate of 67%, it said.
According to the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+ 2018-19), the enrolment at various levels are: Primary: 1,87,341 students, Upper Primary: 1,00,115 students, Elementary: 2,87,456 students, Secondary: 55,946 students, Higher Secondary: 32,899 students.
As per the All India Survey on Higher Education 2017-1845, the Gross Enrolment Ratio of the State is 17.8%, the lowest in the North-East region and far lower than the national ratio of 25.8%.
In Technical Education, the number of students in engineering and technology, management programmes, and applied arts and crafts (Diploma and Degree within the State) is 2.47% (Gross Enrolment ratio) for financial year 2018-2019.
Currently, the Vision document maintains that the Nagaland Government has given utmost priority to education by way of establishing schools in almost all villages and urban habitations.
The State has incurred an expenditure of Rs 1232.94 crore for school education during Financial Year 2018-2019 accruing for 8.95% of the total demand for grant. However, there is a need for efficiency in increased expenditures for appropriate outcomes which may be seen in social indications, it said.
The various challenges faced by the State towards improving the quality of education are:
Tackling Quality Education Related Issues to Enhance Learning Outcomes: At the State level, availability and accessibility of quality education linked to long-term learning outcomes is still a major issue.
Teacher-related: It said teacher-related absenteeism, engagement of proxy teachers and long leaves are the challenges.
Capacity building training exercises of teachers is irregular and hence many teachers lack an updated knowledge base as well as new teaching techniques that could benefit in-classroom and out-of-classroom student-teacher interaction.
Untimely transfers of teachers results in disturbance of the school’s academic activities. Teacher shortage has been a common challenge at the school, higher and technical education levels. There is a major shortage of science and mathematics teachers at the school level which leads to inadequately qualified teachers being given these posts. Furthermore, the Department of Technical Education is facing an issue of lack of funds due to which there are no regular posts being advertised for teachers.
Lack of Participation by other stakeholders: There is a general lack of participation by civil society and parents of students, particularly in rural areas where parents are less educated and may not see value in contributing to their children’s schooling.
Lack of School-related Supplies: In Government schools, there are often delays in delivery of textbooks and other teacher and student materials. Many times, these materials are not of good quality or in good condition.
Curriculum-related Challenges: Lack of uniformity in syllabus is also an issue, since the curriculum for State and private schools are different.
The syllabus and facilities provided by private schools far outrun those in public schools and parents who can afford the fees prefer sending their children to private schools. It is thus essential to upgrade the curriculum and facilities in Government schools to encourage higher enrolment, it said.
At the higher education level, there is limited choice of courses offered which in turn leads to youth migrating outside the State to pursue higher education courses.
The curriculum must be designed considering locally available resources for students from polytechnics to start viable enterprises.
Lack of Requisite Qualification of Anganwadi Teachers: In the light of the New Education Policy 2020, which emphasises on Anganwadis to be brought under the School Education Department, would be a challenge for the State because most of Anganwadi teachers don’t have the requisite qualifications.
Poor Infrastructure: Although the State has leveraged certain Centrally-sponsored schemes to develop education infrastructure, it is still inadequate. Hence, there is a low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) starting from the pre-school/elementary school level right to the higher education level therefore youth migrate to other States of the country and in some cases outside the country. Additionally, infrastructure for capacity building of teachers is also essential as this is needed to strengthen teachers’ skills in order to engage in innovative teaching methods and allow for regular need-based training. Currently, there is no Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) at the State level and teachers have to travel to neighbouring States for refresher training.
Lack of Quality Research Work: There is a need to generate quality research work, including publications and encouraging innovations as well as cross-discipline research work at the higher education level.
Need for Entrepreneurship and Employability: On the demand side, there is a dire need for skill development to enhance employability and entrepreneurship which has not been supported as strongly right from the school level. At the elementary level, cultivation of hobbies as a source of skill and aptitude development and at the secondary and senior secondary levels, opportunities to explore future business possibilities are often neglected. Nagaland also has a very limited number of large-scale industries which are not sufficient to absorb the diploma holders in the State. Thus, youth tend to migrate to other States in search of employment opportunities. If the enterprise development space is given impetus with dedicated diploma programmes, the youth will be encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship.
Policy-related Issues: The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 covers classes 1-8 for free and compulsory education (age 6-14 years). It emphasises on the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) and mandates establishment of a primary school within 1 km radius for every habitation and an upper primary/middle school within 5 km radius. However, this Act may be very difficult to implement at the State level for Nagaland due to the hilly terrain – since village jurisdiction is from hill to hill unlike in the plains. Locally, many schools are 1-classroom schools hence the PTR also becomes difficult to practice on ground.
The focus, it said, would be to create an education system that is more accessible, inclusive and responsive to the needs of diverse groups of children and young people.
The aim should be to build a State where students enjoy learning and teachers enjoy teaching.
By enhancing opportunities for skill development, employability and entrepreneurship and building competencies for life and work, Nagaland will benefit from a population that has an increased skill capacity better able to embrace the modern economy through the following strategies:
Strengthen Anganwadis & Early Childhood Education: The midday meal menu provided in Anganwadis is as per the Centre’s guidelines and is not locally aligned to the taste buds of the population in the State. Hence there is an urgent need to customise the Anganwadi menu to cater to local taste and incorporate locally available agricultural produce. In addition, Anganwadis and schools aim to have a strong coordination channel of communication which will help in improving learning outcomes while providing a seamless movement of students from Anganwadis to primary schools. The State Government plans to immediately give due importance to classes Nursery/A and B which are not covered under RTE Act 2009. The Department of School Education has proposed to introduce early childhood education between 2020 and 2030 where teachers holding diplomas in early education (D.El.Ed) shall be engaged. For this, additional 2 classrooms along with play equipment and Teaching Learning Materials (TLM) will be required in all 1,069 GPS.
Improvement of Infrastructure: The Government’s focus will be to upgrade infrastructure in order to benefit teachers and students in the following ways:
Set up HRD Centre: Currently, since the State has no HRDC, the focus is to set up a State-level HRDC, in collaboration with Nagaland University (NU), to impart orientation and refresher courses.
Up-gradation: Poor infrastructure facilities adversely impacts on teacher attendance and students’ learning outcomes. The State Government aims to upgrade infrastructure facilities for all levels of education. For example, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has identified infrastructure deficiencies in existing technical institutions and polytechnics. The Department of Technical Education plans to upgrade, improve the infrastructure of all the deficiencies faced by the technical Institutions during 2020-2030.
Digitisation: Efforts towards digitisation have been planned at all levels ~ school, higher and technical education levels. At the school education level, there are digitisation efforts suggested from the perspectives of students and teachers:
The target is to have Smart Classrooms in 110 Government Middle Schools (GMSs) and 110 Government High Schools (GHSs) (5 schools in each district) between 2020 and 2030, it said.
The Department of School Education plans to implement Smart Classrooms in all GMSs and GHSS with infrastructures facilities. With regards to Government Higher Secondary Schools (GHSSs), the aim is to introduce e-classrooms and ICT in all GHSSs across Nagaland by 2030.
Posting of mathematics and science teachers will be done on time and the aim is also to ensure that teaching aids are delivered to schools prior to the academic session in January-February, it said.
At the technical education level, from 2020-2022, the Directorate of Technical Education plans to implement digital libraries and smart classrooms across all 6 polytechnic institutes of technical education. The focus is to make all technical institutions IT-centric educational institutions.
The Directorate of Technical Education will focus on this.
From 2020 to 2030, the State Government will work on the Industry-Institute Interaction project wherein it will revise existing curriculum in order to meet market/industry requirements so as to give locally relevant opportunities to graduating students. Students will also get the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the industry.
Under the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP), technical education institutions aim to provide students with courses to pursue self-employment. Between 2020 and 2030, the State Government plans to conduct skill building activities in the 6 polytechnic institutes by inviting successful entrepreneurs to provide exposure to the students.
National Board of Accreditation (NBA): Under this project, from 2020 to 2023 (first phase) and 2024 to 2027 (second phase), the State Government will be focussing on ascertaining weaknesses and strengths and identify as well as take action to improve programmes as part of the Quality Education Mandate set by AICTE through accreditation of the existing Institutions.
In order to combat student drop-out rates and encourage students to continue to higher education, the Government would create youth clubs and student unions as well as collaborate with local NGOs.
The Government’s focus will be to organise job fairs, placements and campus interviews in collaboration with technical education institutes to improve employment opportunities and help reduce youth unemployment rates.
The Government will diversify the types of courses available at technical education institutions/polytechnics to provide students with greater choices of subjects.
This will reduce the number of students that are compelled to travel to other States of the country in order to study certain subjects.
In the next 10 years, the State Government aims to establish degree-level engineering colleges in the existing polytechnics, the vision document added.
(Page News Service)