Delhi govt to rope in youngsters to revamp education system
After announcing the 'Chunauti 2018' academic plan to help Class IX students pass high school, the Delhi government has now launched a fellowship programme, which will make young people work on implementing Delhi's school education policy.
The Change-Makers in Education Fellowship, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on 24 June, will appoint 54 fellows for a minimum period of one year, extendable to two years, at a stipend of Rs 40,000 per month.
Candidates aged between 22 and 35 years, with at least two years of experience in education or the social sector, are invited to apply.
Each fellow will be attached to one of the following eight government initiatives - School Management Committee, Mentor Teacher Programme, Online Platform for Teacher Training, Counselling and Guidance, Management Information Systems, Learning Assessment, Principal Leadership Development Programme, and Special Education.
The fellows will work with the Department of Education, the State Council of Educational Research & Training (SCERT) and other stakeholders.
Focus on Chunauti 2018
Shailendra Sharma, principal advisor to the director (education), Delhi, says that while the fellows will be appointed for a specific initiative, the implementation of the 'Chunauti 2018' education reform plan will be among the most important aspects of the fellowship.
The ambitious plan, announced by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on 29 June, aims to improve the quality of education, while ensuring that government school students do not fail and drop out after Class VIII.
As indicated by the name ('chunauti' is Hindi for 'challenge'), the government wants to make sure that even the "weakest" Class IX students pass Class X by 2018.
"Because of the Centre's No-Detention Policy (NDP), students are promoted to Class IX, often without having even basic reading and writing skills. Almost 50% of Class IX students fail and often drop out because they simply can't cope," Sharma says.
"Chunauti 2018 aims to address that huge backlog of learning. We will work with children from Class VI onwards, with a special focus on Class IX students. The work done by the fellows will contribute to its implementation."
Problem with No-Detention Policy
Under the NDP, brought in under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, no student can be failed before Class IX. It has often been blamed for the deteriorating quality of students in government schools, as well as for the rising number of students failing in Class IX.
"In 2013-14, 44% of students of Class IX failed to pass, while 48.26% of students did not succeed during 2014-15. In 2015-16, 49.22% of students of Class IX failed to pass the examinations," Sisodia had told the press.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government ruling Delhi is among those who have clearly opposed the NDP.
The Delhi government had earlier proposed amendments to the RTE Act, in the form of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Delhi Amendment) Bill 2015, which sought the implementation of NDP only till Class III. But the Bill was returned by the Union Home Ministry, along with 13 other Bills passed by the Delhi Assembly, citing lack of adherence to procedure.
Others have defended the NDP, pointing that it's the poor education system in public schools that fails children, so children should not be penalised.
Sharma, however, says that whether one is in favour of the NDP or not, the most important point is to improve the teaching and learning quality inside the classroom.
"What are we going to do differently in the classrooms to address the diverse needs of students? That is what matters the most," he says.