Government schools set for quality overhaul

Under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, the Ramesh Pokhriyal-led HRD Ministry has given Karnataka Rs 860.56 crore this time, up from Rs 594.19 crore in the previous academic year, as the state was found to have gaps in quality, especially in classroom learning and infrastructure. (DH File Photo)

Rigorous assessments for students, technology in classrooms and English training for more teachers are some of the measures Karnataka will follow from this academic year in government schools, with the HRD Ministry giving the state a 44% hike in outlay to usher in a quality revolution. 

Under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, the Ramesh Pokhriyal-led HRD Ministry has given Karnataka Rs 860.56 crore this time, up from Rs 594.19 crore in the previous academic year, as the state was found to have gaps in quality, especially in classroom learning and infrastructure. 

The government has told the HRD ministry that it will make internal exams “more relevant and of good quality” for Classes 9-12. These classes, considered crucial for career-making, will have the rigorous practice of board exams.

“Kids reach Class 10, but fail there. We want to fix that by training them to clear the boards,” said S R Umashankar, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education. 

The government has also proposed training 2,170 English teachers and enable their professional development in 1,000 schools where English-medium sections have opened.

Introducing English in government schools is “a progressive step to herald social engineering...that will elevated the life and livelihood prospects of poor children”, the government has told the HRD Ministry. 

Besides, about two lakh teachers will be given identity cards that will help ensure real teachers are deployed. The HRD Ministry has asked the state to focus on computer-aided learning and science laboratory infrastructure and provide free textbooks and uniforms on time.

Umashankar said the department’s focus would be on quality. “As a state, we have already achieved access, which means kids are going to schools or at least there’s a school near them. Now, our focus is quality,” he said. 

Authorities believe these quality interventions will improve Karnataka’s score in the Performance Grading Index (PGI), a new assessment tool that tracks school education in different states. 

In the PGI for 2017-18, Karnataka scored 706 out of 1,000, with the state found lagging across Learning Outcomes & Quality, Access, Infrastructure, Equity and Governance Processes.

The state is in Grade-3 along with Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh while it is behind Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat and others.

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