Delhi government schools have seen the best-ever CBSE class 12th Board results with a pass percentage of 94.24% in 2019 – girls 96.3% and boys at 91.48%. This is a vast improvement from total pass percentage of 90.64% in 2018 and 88.27% in 2017.
There is an overall improvement in the quality of education in government schools of the capital, courtesy the Delhi Government governed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which now is into its third term since coming to power in 2015. With slogans like “education first”, the party has kept its promise of improving the state education system and the results are encouraging.
The success of the Delhi school education system has galvanised all other states including that of Maharashtra to adopt the model. In January 2020, Maharashtra’s deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar announced that the state government will soon adopt the Delhi school model for schools under the municipal corporations in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, etc. At the school education review meeting held in January 2020, Pawar went on to mention that the Delhi education system is the best in the country and that it would even help in better financial management.
Focus on quality education
Delhi has adopted a number of changes differing from the previous traditional approach and experts have lauded them for the results. One of the key changes was the increased share of budget allocated to education. In 2015-16, ₹6,208 crore was provided to the school and higher education department, it was increased to ₹11,201 crore in the 2018-19 annual budget and to ₹15,133 crore in 2019-20. The increase in the budget allocation was to improve school infrastructure and update teacher-training system as well as student learning programme. In addition, 21 new schools with the state-of-art facilities were established and 8,000 new classrooms were added to existing schools. Computer facilities have been added in 88.82% of schools, as well as science labs along with SMART classrooms.
There was an overall improvement in the maintenance of hygiene. Government run schools all over the country are known to be in a bad state with poor infrastructure – lack of toilets for girls and boys and no clean drinking water. But Delhi set an example with clean, hygienic and fully functionable toilets for both girls and boys.
Teacher’s Training Programmes were given top priority to help teachers gain contemporary knowledge about their subjects and improve their teaching abilities. More than 36,000 teachers went through an extensive capacity building exercise in 2017. And 200 teachers got trained as “mentor teachers’’ by world’s top educators at National Institute of Education in Singapore in 2018. On completion of the training, they were assigned five to six schools which they visited daily and provided on-site learning support to other teachers. Rather than hiring retired teachers to train young teachers like it was always being done, the Delhi government decided to take a step in a different direction.
Over the years several studies have been conducted on the state of education in India and children’s learning levels and they revealed that many of these children could not cope with what was being taught in their respective grades. Most of the times the issue was the lack of basic knowledge like understanding numbers and letters or reading and writing. To tackle this, a programme called Chunauti was introduced in 2018 aiming at students from grade 6 to grade 8 in Delhi. They were divided into three groups called Pratibha, Nishtha and Neo-Nishta according to their learning levels. This helped teachers in providing students with different teaching techniques and a better student-teacher interaction catered to their needs. They are even provided with special study material based on the groups.
Involving all stakeholders
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, had made School Management Committees (SMCs) a compulsory part of all schools consisting of local elected representatives, parents and teachers. They had duties like monitoring the working of schools, preparing a school development plan and monitoring usage of grants provided. These committees have been established in few schools across the country since implementation of the Act, but not given the required importance or responsibility. The Delhi government thought differently and decided to utilise this unrecognised stakeholder group’s power in children`s education.
From 2015, SMCs have been given the responsibility of organising parent-teacher meetings, streamlining admission process and helping students maintain their attendance. Members of SMCs are given regular training and are provided with ₹5 lakhs per annum to be able to carry out their duties. Since parents are one of the key stakeholders in their children’s education, they are concerned about their development and progress, and thus are active particpants in this decentralised model.
A child cannot obtain holistic development in terms of education and overall growth, if every stakeholder in his or her life does not have the required skills to help them grow. Apart from this, the surroundings of a child create a huge impact on their mindset. Along with having fully functioning classrooms and labs, a child should be healthy and feel safe in a school. Focus should not only be given to one aspect of a student’s life, but to all of them.
Maharashtra government has realised the need of good quality education and is planning to introduce these much-needed initiatives. They have to create success stories though the results of the changes may take time to show.
Education was never mentioned as a top priority by any state government at top level. Delhi’s government run school system has been an inspiration and if followed well with some tweaks here and there to suit individual states, there certainly is a ray of hope for more success stories emerging out of our public education system.