If you have faith in the findings of NGO Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), you don’t have to read between the lines to gauge that the state of the city’s civic schools and their students is rather depressing. The report had stated that 70 per cent of class III students here aren’t proficient enough to even read class I textbooks.
Now, PMC’s education board has pulled up its socks and is about to initiate a drive to check the veracity of these claims and establish the reading skills of 86,872 registered students in classes I to VII of 310 civic schools. Asking students to recite mathematical tables, checking basic primary level skills like addition, subtraction etc will also be a part of this upcoming campaign scheduled to be held between February 22 and 28.
“Till last year in routine inspections only a few students in each class were asked to perform some exercises. But this year we are planning to connect with each and every student through this drive,” said Pradeep Dhumal, chairperson of PMC’s education board.
“Plans to conduct this weeklong drive are ready. We are fashioning supervisor-teacher groups that will visit schools randomly and cover all 310 of them. We are taking precautions to ensure that teachers don’t end up at schools where they are employed,” he said.
“The forte of this drive is participation of parents. We have already informed them through students about the proposed campaign and they are supposed to come in to the schools to witness academic progress of their children,” said Bhivaji Dhumal, principal, Vidyaniketan School number 8 in Kothrud.
“This exercise is a genuine effort to bear out the calibre of students and quality of our schools,” explained Shirish Phadtare, member of the education board.
When we quoted some of the findings from ASER about decreasing quality of primary education, Phadtare replied, “Last year, 34 of our class IV and class VII students appeared in the merit list of the state scholarship exams. This itself proves the competence of our students. The quality of our teachers and the facilities we provide in our school are among the best.”
“It is truly a welcome step. Though ASER findings are based on observations from rural parts of the country, the situation in civic schools in the cities are not much different. That’s why it is really laudable that the PMC education board is taking an initiative to check if its students are equipped with basic learning skills or not,” said Usha Rane, director, Pratham.
Rane, who oversees six states including Maharashtra, added, “Even Right To Education (RTE) Act’s provision of Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) expects that schools intimate parents about the progress of their children. So conducting the exercise in the presence of parents is another positive step. As I am in Mumbai, I am not aware about the details of PMC’s campaign. But I will definitely ask my colleagues in Pune to attend and examine the exercise.”
Number of students from various schools to be covered in the drive:
>> Vidya Niketan schools: 4,472
>> English medium schools: 10,972
>> Marathi and Urdu medium schools: 71,428
>> Total no. of students: 86,872