Consolidation of school facilities is good, but here is why Centre must push teacher training, elearning

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Published: July 29, 2017 4:56:10 AM

The ASER survey highlights that levels of education in the country have dropped in the last decade in government schools. While 56.7% of class V students in government students could read English words in 2007, this dropped to 39.7% in 2016.

Consolidation of school facilities, school facilities, ASER survey, schools in india, government schools, government schools in india, district system of education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, MindsparkBesides consolidation of school facilities, govt must push teacher training and e-learning. (Image: Reuters)

The ASER survey highlights that levels of education in the country have dropped in the last decade in government schools. While 56.7% of class V students in government students could read English words in 2007, this dropped to 39.7% in 2016. A similar trend is noticed for mathematics and reading ability. One of the key reasons behind this decline is the state of schools—poor student strength leading to sub-par utilisation, absent teachers, understaffing, etc, has been the fate of many schools in the country. However, a recently released set of draft guidelines on consolidation of school infrastructure may help remedy this situation.

According to these, schools within a particular vicinity could be consolidated in fewer campuses to provide efficient and better quality education. The decision seems timely as data collated from states and district system of education (DISE) suggests the situation has been worsening. Over the last four years, both primary and upper primary schools with zero enrollment have increased. Zero-enrollment schools in case of upper primary accounted for 0.7% of total schools in 2015-16 as compared to 0.3% in 2012-13.

The trend was similar for schools with less than 15 children and those with less than 30 children, which accounted for 7.9% and 26.5%, respectively, for primary schools and 6.1% and 17.3% for upper primary schools. The only improvement was for single-teacher schools. But, even in this case, at 11.5% of total primary schools, the ratio was too high.

Rationalising may help 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. It also needs to improve teacher training and inculcate e-learning. Rationalisation can be a good vehicle to bring in technology-aided learning. A study using learning software Mindspark shows that the software improved learning outcomes for the students, and also proved to be cost-efficient than the present set-up.

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