Government schools in India are often discredited for having a low standard of education. Many must have gone through numerous viral videos like that of a government school teacher not being able to spell the name of English months. But a closer look will reveal some substantial improvement in the scenario, at least, in case of the northern state of Haryana. Only five years ago, the grade level competence of Haryana government school students remained dipped at 40%. Today the same lies at 88%. How? Let us find out!

Around 20 lakh pupils in Haryana are currently getting educated in government schools with the aid of, approximately, 1.1 lakh educators. Director General of Secondary Education, Haryana, Dr Rakesh Gupta, says that he realized that the schooling standards were suffering in the state. To better the situation, the state collaborated with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and launched the Quality Improvement Program.

State schemes like the Learning Enhancement Programme, launched in 2014, aimed to raise the competency levels of the students. Later on, in 2017, Saksham Haryana Cell was set up under the Chief Minister’s Office which engaged professionals from Samagra, a governance-aiding body, to take the mission further. Lastly, the Saksham Haryana scheme was launched with the target of making 80% of government school students, grade-level competent.

The main administrative bodies that made the programme a success were the Chief Minister’s Office, the Department of School Education and the district administrations headed by the district magistrates. Another key factor that made a real difference in the grass root level was recruiting young professionals as change agents or Chief Minister’s Good Governance Associates who would oversee the signs of progress made from district to district.

Another dimension of the movement was the assessment process of progress made by each block of each district. Whenever, a block declared that it had reached grade-level competency in a particular subject, in a particular standard or class, it would nominate itself under Saksham Ghoshna. Immediately it would come under a scanner of Grey Matters India, an educational assessment firm. If only the block was approved by the company, it would be declared “Saksham”.

To ensure maximum participation of students in primary and secondary schooling and to provide them with quality education, Haryana administration focused on three key areas. First of all, manuals issued by the State Council of Education Research and Training were given to morning teachers guiding them on how to bridge lesson gaps. Teachers now started strictly following certain norms like spending the first hour of school revising lessons taught the previous day. Whatsapp based online course – DigiLEP – for teachers, served a similar purpose.

Secondly, the assessment dashboard, ‘Saksham Adhyapak’, was constituted to keep a tab on student learning levels. It also lists out the areas where teachers need to work harder. The data the dashboard works on is generated through monthly assessments and even surprise visits by government officials followed by random question-answer sessions.

Thirdly, the area where Haryana has really set a benchmark is providing motivation to the teachers of government schools. A stark difference was created when elaborate time consuming official processes that involved leaves, transfers and promotions were done away. This helped the teachers focus more on teaching. The government also plans to digitalize various official processes and rules like the service book.

Along with all this, the state also addressed social issues by involving parents, to ensure stunning results – today not only has students of 94 blocks in Haryana achieved 88.2% grade-level competency in Maths and Hindi, but the state has also set an example for other Indian states to follow. The Haryana model may reveal the key to enhancing and bettering the secondary level education scenario of India.

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