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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)

Next Story

Congress To Use Tribal Card to Regain Power in the Country

Congress to use tribal card to improve countrywide position

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Congress Chhattisgarh
Congress will be using the tribal card to regain dominance and their plan of action will begin from Chhattisgarh. Wikimedia Commons

BY SANDEEP PAURANIK

In order to regain dominance in the country, the Congress is mulling using the tribal card. This plan of action is to be first implemented in Chhattisgarh.

Riding on the success of the Assembly and urban body elections, the Congress feels that it can increase it base through tribals as they constitute 8 per cent of the total population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three Assembly elections in the state, after its formation in 2000, recorded huge victories and came to power. But after the Assembly elections held last year, the scenario changed. After registering a victory in the Assembly elections and then in the urban body polls, the Congress showed that it still dominates the tribal areas.

Rahul Gandhi Congress
Former President of Congress Rahul Gandhi gave an important message while innaugrating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur. Wikimedia Commons

The Congress gave the responsibility of the tribal areas to the tribal leader of Madhya Pradesh Umang Singhar which eventually helped the party. Now, the party is planning to spread out nationwide through Chhattisgarh.

Former party president Rahul Gandhi, while inaugurating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, gave a message to the tribals who are here to participate in the festival that the Chhattisgarh government is working for all the sections and this is the reason why there has been a downward trend in naxal attacks and the state economy has also improved.

The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country because the tribal population in the state is 32 per cent.

BJP media panellist Sandeep Sharma, however, claims that the party’s base has not shrunk. He said till Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not divided, the Congress was strong in the area but in the elections held after three years of the bifurcation, the BJP won the Assembly elections and was in power for 15 years. Though we faced defeat in the 2018 elections, the only reason was that people wanted a change but they were not angry with the BJP, he claimed.

The BJP won in the Lok Sabha elections and the margin in the urban body elections was also not much. So, it would be inappropriate to say that the BJP’s base has shrunk, he said adding that in one year the Congress’ base has declined by 9 per cent whereas in Assembly elections it got 12 per cent more votes and in urban body elections the margin was 3 per cent.

Congress
The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country. Wikimedia Commons

Analysing the political landscape of the state, political analyst Rudra Awasthi said, “When it was Madhya Pradesh then the Congress had stronghold in Chhattisgarh. Several big leaders were also from the state but after the formation of Chhattisgarh since Ajit Jogi was accused of being a fake tribal the Congress lost its stronghold over the tribals. Though it continued to dominate in some of the areas which helped it in regaining the power.

“As of now, the Congress has started including the tribals with the backward class. First Bhupesh Baghel was the state chief of the party and he was replaced by Mohan Markam as he became the Chief Minister. During the Assembly elections, the Congress talked about the identity of the tribals which helped the party. After winning the elections, the decisions of the Congress government were in favour of the tribals which helped the party in the urban body elections,” said Awasthi.

Also Read- Unity in Diversity is the Strength of the Country: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress is mulling over spreading its message to the tribals across the country through the three-day festival going on here. For this several senior leaders of the party will attend the festival and share the government’s schemes while giving the message that the Congress government in the state has brought a positive and a significant change in the lives of the tribals. (IANS)