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Make teachers and schools central to qualitative improvement in education: Focus Group
A focus group with 10 educational functionaries working at different levels of the system was held recently in Jaipur in which the representatives of three local NGOs working for the education of the children of deprived groups and qualitative improvement of government schools also participated.

The focus group discussion lasted for two hours.

The following major ideas, comments, thoughts and concerns were shared during the focus group discussion.

•NGO-government schools tie-ups should be encouraged. The NGO representatives should be linked to the School Development and Management Committees (SDMCs).

•Quality has many shades; it ranges from exceptional work to the fitness of purpose to the preventive measures. In schools, it must start with the fitness of purpose by maximizing the utilization of existing resources.

• What meets the requirements or expectations is the quality. But one needs to be crystal clear about the requirements, expectations or have a vision of good education.

• For education, there are two dilemmas or challenges at present. First, there is a challenge of management which is presently controls-based and bureaucratic. Second, there is a lack of motivation, self-drive, and the conceptual challenge due to the lack of clarity of vision and pedagogical aspects of classroom activities.

• The government officers and teachers do not send their own children managed by themselves. They send their children to private schools. Hence, they are disinterested in improving themselves (which is hard work) and the system for which they work. Since they are not affected by the bad system, they do not even try to improve it. They only waste money in the name of improvement or reforms. Only formalities and tokenism is seen in the name of quality in the government sector. It just becomes a paper-formalities system of given orders and directions. The management becomes a system of passing the buck for non-performance and low quality.

• For building quality, two things are necessary. First, we must provide space for innovations, tryouts, flexibility and freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, Secondly, there is a need for fixing norms and standards for resources and performance.

• Teachers are central to any educational reform or quality improvement in education and their motivation and leadership needs to be built. The professional excitement, energy and enthusiasm among teachers need to be fostered by the management. In education, quality means the quality teachers whose performance is reflected in the classroom processes. Even display of students' work in the classroom enlivens it.

• Unfortunately, the enrolment drives of last one decade were de-linked to the quality. The road roller methods of bringing children to schools and emphasis on statistics have robbed off the teacher enthusiasm and sensitivity for classroom instruction.

• For quality, in the education system, the unit of administration should be small, i.e., limited to 15 to 20 schools only so that the system becomes and remains connected, alert and energized. Academic support activities should be systematically organized with an action plan for 15 to 20 schools.

• In-service teacher training should not be insulated from the actual school environment, be school-based and organized in the contextual reality of students.

• The school personnel should respect the community and give them dignity; excite and energize them. The school must make use of the community resources and skills for classroom interaction and school improvement.

• We have neglected the head teacher's leadership for a long time now. We must invest in the development and empowerment of the head teachers so that institutional planning and management is given the due recognition and importance.

• Even when an NGO becomes big, it also starts managing itself thought rules and regulations, and hence gets in to the inflexibility mode and loss of energy. NGOs should limit themselves to only small scale demonstration projects.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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