Views and Reflections

When we entered GHPS Ambalanur, we found all students and teachers engaged in one or the other learning process. There are 165 students studying in this school—79 boys and 86 girls. Including the Head Teacher (HT), there are seven teachers. Every year, at least, four to five students get selected to Morarji, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) or the Navodaya school. Ambalanur is a Lamani Thanda (settlement) with a population of two thousand people. It is situated 12 km from Basavana Bagewadi block of Vijayapur.

The Mid Day Meal (MDM) scheme is an initiative that directly aimed to decrease the nutrition gaps of children especially in the pre-primary and primary age groups. It was started ‘with a view to positively impact enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children’ (MHRD website).

After the announcement of demonetisation we saw the Reserve Bank of India changing the rules and directives on a continuous basis. Whatever the view taken by others on this, as a teacher in a school I could very well understand it. For the achievement of some specific goals, if I move ahead, and after some time feel that I need to change the old directives for achieving my goals, I immediately bring about the required changes.

Six to ten years of age is appropriate, suitable and wonderful for natural learning. What one learns at this age proves decisive for future plans and laying the quality foundations of a subject. A child of this age coming to school is most ready for learning. It is based on this that many of the recommendations for the implementation of educational schemes, including CCE, are made. These schemes are still on their way, dreaming of reaching their destination.

Teaching is a very demanding profession that carries with it a great social responsibility. In order to do justice to their profession, teachers need to be able to focus on their school, children and their community without getting burdened by other distractions. One such distraction used to be teacher transfers. Teachers have location preferences which need to be balanced with the needs of schools, however, the information in these matters is not systematically available to teachers, which makes them go from pillar to post trying to extract information.

At a time when the education system in India is on the cusp of undergoing reforms and when policy recommendations emerging from diverse sources with their competing claims are more likely to confuse rather than clarify or guide, it is worthwhile revisiting the Delors report titled “Learning: The Treasure Within” (1996) for its sharp analysis of prevailing educational challenges and the role of education in personal and social development.

I recently spent some time in a village in Gujarat almost exclusively inhabited by an Adivasi community called the Rathva. In my discussions with the community, ‘dhandho’ (a Guajarati word that roughly translates as occupation) was cited as the key reason why they wanted their children to attend school. ‘Dhando’ is a word that can mean jobs (public or private) or self-employment in petty businesses.

In this paper, we take a brief look at how language and literacy have been addressed in the 43- page document – Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy (MHRD, 2016b; hereafter DNEP). We believe that it is not possible to understand DNEP without reading it in conjunction with the 217-page National Policy on Education 2016: Report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy (MHRD, 2016a; hereafter CENEP). Hence, we have considered both in our commentary.

As per the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 in India, every Indian child is eligible for ‘free and compulsory education’ from 6 to 14 years. Assuming that a child is in 1st grade at age 6, and reaches 9th grade at 14. During these 8 years of ‘free and compulsory education’, a child can get free books, uniforms and mid-day meal on school days from the government S/he does not have to pay any tuition fee for schooling. There are variations in terms of this policy from state to state, but in general, these are the common benefits expected from the government.

The National Policy in Education (1986) and the modifications made to the policy (1992) were key initiatives that attempted to enunciate a comprehensive framework that would guide the development of education in the Nation.

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