Infrastructure News

Quality education is a combination of infrastructure and teachers

11 Sep 2022  |   05:58am IST

Quality education is a combination of infrastructure and teachers

On Teachers Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Schools for Rising India (PM-SHRI) Yojana. PM-SHRI envisages developing and upgrading 14,500 schools across the country in the next five years at the cost of Rs 27,360 crore. 

However, the criterion for a school to be included in the list of these 14,500 schools would ensure that most of the government schools in the country do not even qualify to be a part of the Yojana. The prescribed qualifying benchmarks include availability of electricity and toilets; but, given the present scenario, the State’s government schools in their current status will not qualify. 

Turning to the state of education in Goa, over the last decade nearly 30 per cent of the government primary schools have been shut down. From over 1,000 government primary schools, the number of schools functioning during the current academic year has dropped to 718. 

The number of private schools is on the rise and parents who know that education is the only way to a better future of the individual, family, as well as the State and nation, literally pay through the nose to afford the best quality education for their children.

Schools are not just infrastructure. While a school is one of the key factors for quality education, the number of teachers and the quality of the teaching fraternity determines the future of the pupil. Goa government’s data reveals that 15 government high schools, as on June 2022, are functioning without a full-time headmaster. 

In June this year, the National Achievement Survey (NAS), 2021, revealed the poor performance of Goan school students compared to the national averages. Across all grades, Goan students have performed below the national average in Mathematics and the performances in others subjects too was not satisfactory. 

Earlier this year, Goa University witnessed a further downslide in its ranking. Those who understand university education pointed at the problem of being short-staffed. Since the last five years, 43 per cent of the vacancies in the University have not been filled. 

While Chief Minister Pramod Sawant may attribute the closure of the primary schools to opening of government-aided primary schools, the fact of the matter is that the State is withdrawing from fulfilling its fundamental responsibility   providing quality education. 

In response to the NAS report, the Chief Minister demanded that the teaching fraternity should completely focus on their primary duty – ‘teaching’, and not indulge in any other side businesses. However, with a large number of teachers, from primary schools to the University, being recruited on annual contract or lecture basis and their remuneration is sometimes one-third the pay scale of full-time teachers, it is but obvious that many of them have to indulge in side businesses to ensure a better living for themselves.

The present government has been basking in the glory of being a double-engine government and the CM has time and again reiterated that his government will ensure that the benefit of every scheme reaches to the person on the last mile.

In contrast, the government has not been successful in stopping the closer of primary schools, not just in rural areas but also urban areas, making it difficult for those from the lower economic strata of the society to attain education. When one school closes down, it’s not just the child who suffers but the family as a whole, and in the worst, it would be the future generation of the Nation. 

The Chief Minister, as the Education Minister of Goa, should ensure that State-sponsored quality education as a fundamental right reaches every child, closest to his/her residence. It cannot remain a mere slogan.

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