Report by Odisha Diary bureau, Bhubaneswar: Teachers and Communities are important stakeholders directly responsible for making every school a place for societal integration, inclusiveness and quality learning. The RTE Act, 2009 has recognized their roles and responsibilities in its different sections.
However, the first deadline for the implementation of RTE Act has passed in March, 2013 and second deadline focused on regularization of teacher’s and teacher training is coming to an end soon- with only 9 months remaining on March 2015. However, only 10% schools are presently fulfilling the important provisions of the Act.
Taking note of the present situation (highlighted in details below) with respect to different stakeholders: what their envisioned role was (as per the RTE Act) and what is actually happening, it is felt that a common stage needs to be provided to the stakeholders at every level, starting from the grassroots to the National level, wherein they can come together and jointly discuss issues of common concern. Among other things, the objectives of the consultation include:
Identifying the challenges/ systemic problems weakening the public education system
Informing SMC members as well as teachers about their respective roles and responsibilities within the framework of the RTE Act, 2009
Providing a platform to SMC members as well as teachers to voice their concerns and different implementation hurdles (as well as share any ‘good-practices’)
Building synergies between SMC members and teachers to jointly address issues of mutual concerns and reach practical solutions (as part of the greater trust building exercise)
Devising strategies to involve the community as a whole to nurture the feeling of joint ownership towards the local school.
In view of the above background, a workshop on Collective Role of Teachers and SMC in School Development was organised by National RTE Forum in collaboration with All Utkal Primary Teachers Federation and Odisha RTE Forum on 29th and 30th July, 2014 at hotel The Presidency, Bhubaneswar. The workshop was formally started by Mr. Anil Pradhan, Convener, Odisha RTE Forum and inaugurated by Mr. Debi Mishra, Hon'bl Minister, Department of Mass Education, Odisha by lighting the lamp. The session was presided by Mr. Aurobindo Behera, Chairman, Centre for Good Governance. The other members present in the session were Mr. Ambarish Rai, Convener, RTE Forum (National), Prof. Anita Rampal, University of Delhi, Mr. Kanhu Charan Mohanty, Secretary, All Utkal Primary Teachers Federation and DR. Mohit Mohanty, Former Director, SIEMAT. The objective of the workshop was to discuss various issues relating to problems of teacher education and community participation and explore possibilities of working together for the improvement of educational situation of the state.
Mr. Ambarish Rai said that revolution in education is only possible when the teachers, village and community members work together. Even if the deadline of RTE i.e 2015 is very near, only 10% of the total schools in the country have complied to the RTE norms (Pupil Teacher Ratio, Infrastucture and other RTE norms). The number of private schools are increasing like anything and each year about 1200 government schools are either shut down or merged with other schools. Even if the Supreme Court of India has made universal education from government schools compulsory, none of the state governments have complied to it. People are themselves convinced that quality education can only be ensured in private schools. Change can only be brought by the teachers and community members together. He also highlighted that the budget on education is increasing and 25% of the allocated budget remains unutilised. Salary is also a big problem for the teachers which needs to be tackled by the government and they must be given a faith that they are good and they can bring change.
Prof. Anita Rampal expressed her concern that the RTE has been implemented and the major issue is now its improvement which would help in achieving its target within the stipulated time period. She shares her experience where she meets students of B.Ed who take up teachership because they have nothing else to do. Teachership is the least opted option among Indians, in comparison with other countries. She says that the real problem of children is not being drop out but being pushed out. It is the system which pushes them out. Education can only be fruitful when the combined responsibilty is bore by the parents and the community members. According to Prof. Rampal, Kendriya Vidyalayas are best in targeting inequality and discrimination among the various social and cultural categories of children.
Mr. Aurobindo Behera summarized that there is a definite lack in the education system. Major stress is laid on one side of the problem like infrastructure, drinking water, toilet facilities etc. But we need to develop a holistic outlook towards the problem of education. To bring change and improvement in education, proper motivation must be provided by the teachers and they in turn will motivate the students. Mr. Debi Mishr, Honorable minister, Department of School and Mass Education said that a student can excel in his own field but he will not become a complete citizen and his contribution to the society would be limited. Education is a key indicator of Human Resource Development. He focus on the challenges of tribal education and talked about multi lingual education. He talked about the ground challenges of education and sought for solution from among the participants.
Mr. Kanhu Charan Mohanty talks about the collective role of teachers and SMC members and the pioneering role to be played by the teachers. He talks about the mainstreaming of the drop-outs. Because of lack of money, disinterestedness is developing for the students. He made a request to help the SMC members and teachers and bring out the cooperative side of the government.
Mr. Uday Nath Dash discussed about issues related to early reading and its importance. The various issues are alphabets/words or sentences, mother tongue etc. The learner is more important than learning process itself. He talks about the various physical and psychological skills that facilitate early learning process. Learning process must not be teacher- centric but learner centric.
Mr. Mohit Mohanty said that teacher must be a reflective teacher. A teacher must not think about deficiencies in the system but search for solution within himself. Teachers must come to the profession not by compulsion but by choice. Regular teacher training and peer learning must be promoted.
More than 120 participants all across Odisha comprising of Teachers, SMC Members across all Odisha have participated in the workshop. Other participants who have been present for the workshop are NGOs, Funding Agencies, and Educationists. Among other eminent speakers who have been the panelists in the workshop include Dr. Manmath Kundu, Former Director, NCTE, Dr. Uday Nath Dash, Former Professor, Utkal University, Dr. Gouranga Nanda, Professor, Ravenshaw University, Mr. Diganta Mohanty Programme Manager, Care India, Umi Daniel, Aide et Action, Dr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Former Professor, JNU and Founder Chairman, NMRC, Ms. Seema Rajput, Care India, Mr. Gouranga Mohanpatra, BGVS, Mrs. Bharati Chakra, Advocacy Coordinator, Save the Children, Ms. Sudatta Khuntia, Programme Manager, Action Aid and Smruti Ranjan Jena, Co-Convener, Odisha RTE Forum.