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Himachal lawmakers rue decline in education

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By Vishal Gulati  

Shimla: About 200 state-run primary schools in Himachal Pradesh have no teacher at all. Fifty percent of Class 5 students in government schools are not able to comprehend textbooks meant for Class 2 students and cannot solve three-digit problems, so say many of the state’s legislators.

Photo credit: www.hillpost.in
Photo credit: www.hillpost.in

Concerned over the declining standards of education at the primary and elementary levels, the legislators, cutting across party lines, have demanded in the assembly reforms in the education system to check further decline.

Hailing the Allahabad High Court judgement of August 18, two of them – one from the opposition BJP and other from the Congress – demanded that politicians, bureaucrats and judges must also send their children to government schools. This is the only way, the court said, that the pathetic state of government schools in the state could be improved.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is known for his reforms in education, favours reviving the British system of carrying out inspections of educational institutions to improve the standard of education.

If BJP member Inder Singh, who moved the resolution that was later rejected by a voice vote, is to be believed, 107 primary schools in the state have only one or two students each. Likewise, 943 schools have a single teacher and 200 schools don’t even have a teacher. But that has not prevented the chief minister from going on a spree of opening new schools, he said.

“The percentage of children studying in government schools came down to 58 percent last year from 90 percent in 2003.”

The ex-serviceman-turned-politician believes the total ban on mid-term transfers, starting lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten classes in government schools, introducing English from Class 1 and re-introduction of the pass/fail system till Class 8 will help check a further dip.

“The Allahabad High Court has given a historic decision. It should be followed in the state too and then the standard of education will improve,” Inder Singh added.

The Congress’ Asha Kumar, a former education minister, said nobody wanted to serve in the remote areas.

She suggested that the government also set up cluster and model schools with residential facilities.

Another former education minister, I.D. Dhiman of the BJP, suggested pre-primary schools that will help increasing enrollment in government schools.

Hailing the Allahabad High Court decision, Congress member and Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, who belongs to remote Kinnaur district, said it should also be made mandatory for the children of teachers and lecturers to get admission in government schools.

Only then, he said, would the standard of education improve.

Quoting a 2012 education report of NGO Pratham, the BJP’s Hans Raj, a former lecturer, said 50 percent of Class 5 students in government schools are not able to comprehend textbooks meant for Class 2 students.

Replying to the resolution, which was rejected with a voice vote, Chief Minister Veerbhadra Singh said there were inspectors of schools during the British days whose job was to do just that.

“We need to have school inspectors. Their duties should be to the test the students’ level of education and that of the educational institutions. They should conduct surprise checks,” he added.

Admitting that the country’s education system is not a role model, the chief minister, who is at helm for the sixth time, noted: “I can say education is much better what it was before. I will like that in future the state should be an example for other states.”

Virbhadra Singh, who holds the education portfolio, said five schools would be developed and granted the status of smart schools.

He said he did not mind opening a new school in far-flung areas, even if there were just two students.

Officials said the state, with over 6.8 million people, has 10,738 primary, 2,292 middle, 846 higher secondary and 1,552 senior secondary schools besides 86 degree colleges.

(IANS)

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Karnataka Polls: BJP On The Way to Win, Congress May Get Hard Defeat

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

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A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Congress may have to taste defeat in Karnataka, VOA

The BJP was on Tuesday set to return to power in its southern bastion Karnataka as its candidates crossed the half-way mark in vote count, stunning and ousting the ruling Congress and leaving the JD-S at the third spot.

Noisy celebrations broke out in party offices in Bengaluru, New Delhi and across Karnataka as Bharatiya Janata Party nominees were on the victory lap in 118 of the 222 constituencies which voted on Saturday.

This was a dramatic jump from the 40 seats the BJP won five years ago.

The Congress, desperate to retain power in the state amid shrinking appeal nationally, suffered major blows and was ahead only in 62 seats, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah trailing in both the constituencies he contested: Badami and Chamundeshwari.

The Congress leader was way behind G.T Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular in Chamundeshwari, Election Commission officials said. And after leading initially, Siddaramaiah fell behind B.R. Sriramulu of the BJP in Badami.

In contrast, the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was ahead of his Congress rival by more than 11,000 votes in Shikaripura.

Energy Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said that the numbers indicated that his party was on the way out after five years in power.

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

The BJP was overjoyed. “We are in a jubilant mood because we have crossed the half-way mark. We are confident of winning,” spokesman S. Shantharam told IANS.

BJP activists and leaders celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and party President Amit Shah.

There were also celebrations outside the residence of Yeddyurappa, who has been Chief Minister earlier too.

Of the 2,654 candidates in the fray for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, at least 883 are crorepatis and 645 have criminal cases against them, said two watchdogs after analysing their affidavits filed with the Election Commission (EC).
Karnataka Polls counting suggests big win for BJP, wikimedia commons

The Janata Dal-Secular of former Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda, which has been expected to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly, was leading in 40 seats — the same number it won five years ago.

As the vote count progressed, BJP leaders became assertive, saying they were confident of taking power again in Karnataka while Congress leaders began to speak about the possibility of an alliance with the JD-S.

BJP leader and Union Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there was no question of any alliance.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is in charge of Karnataka, met BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Analysts said the BJP was leading in Lingayat dominated seats and the JD-S in Vokkaliga dominated areas.

Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday.

Modi’s Performance: Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to market observers, broadly subdued Asian indices and disappointing macro-economic inflation data points released on Monday capped some gains.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in banking, capital goods, metals, consumer durables and automobile stocks.

The Sensex has so far touched a high of 35,993.53 points and a low of 35,498.83 points during the intra-day trade. (IANS)