Preparations on a war footing are going on at the Maharashtra education department, which is about to participate in three international surveys, which rank the progress made by students. From extending the Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra (PSM) programme to secondary schools to sending Zilla Parishad teachers to Singapore to study teaching patterns, the department is leaving no stone unturned to make a mark in the survey.
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The first such survey — which ranks participants in terms of the progress made in education — is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which will be held in 2018.
Held once every three years, PISA is conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It tests students on maths, science and language subjects and is considered a litmus test for gauging where they stand alongside their peers from other countries.
However, the Maharashtra government may have to wait five years before it can participate in the survey.
“We may not be prepared to participate in the survey in 2018, as it would take considerable time to implement the changes that we want … We are also planning to take part in two other surveys which will follow PISA,” said Nand Kumar, secretary, Maharashtra school and sports department.
He added that if students have to take part in international surveys, the schools have to be brought on par with international standards. That’s why the government had planned to start SSC-international in association with the Cambridge University, said Kumar.
The two other surveys are Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) — which tests science and Maths skills of Class IV and Class VIII students — and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which tests language skills of Class IV students.
Meanwhile, most top officials of the state attended a meeting — held last week at the State Council of Education, Research and Training (SCERT) — to discuss a detailed strategy to extend PSM to higher secondary schools.
“Until now, the programme was implemented only in primary schools… the early results that have come out a year after implementation have been satisfactory. In some areas, we have been able to make measurable achievements. We have now decided to extend the programme to higher secondary schools as well. While the PSM programme was conceived after the Chief Minister set some targets for the education department… the programme’s success will be one of the factors which will help us in PISA,” said Kumar.
In a PISA survey conducted earlier, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore had emerged as the top four countries. The state government has now organised a trip to Singapore for over 150 Zilla Parishad school teachers.
“Going by the results of the PSM programme, we are confident that if our teachers apply their heart to it, a good ranking in PISA is achievable. However, we will have to wait for a couple of years,” added Kumar.