June 27, 2021 12:08:22 pm
Andhra Pradesh has started a programme to transform foundational learning in government schools for which the World Bank has approved a loan of 250 million dollars.
The main objectives of the programme called Supporting Andhra’s Learning Transformation (SALT) are strengthening foundation schools and providing training and skill development to teachers, Andhra Pradesh Education Minister Audimulapu Suresh told The Indian Express.
“There is a dire need to improve foundational learning and the quality of education in government schools. Till now, government schools did not have LKG or UKG classes, not to mention pre-primary classes. We have started foundation schools known as pre-primary schools and have made them a part of the curriculum. About 85 per cent of a child’s brain growth happens till the age of six and it is during this time the child should receive quality education, and foundation schools are key to that,” Suresh said.
Establishing and strengthening foundation schools is in tune with the National Education Policy, 2020, and Andhra Pradesh aims to become the first state to do so, the minister said.
The five-year programme is result-oriented with the WB releasing funds after key goals are achieved. The government has converted all Anganwadis into pre-primary schools and attached them to the nearest schools. Minister Suresh said the two years of pre-primary school would be considered as part of primary education. The government’s document on SALT documents several challenges to improving the learning outcomes. These include inadequate facilities in schools and a need for increased focus on foundational learning, the need for upgrading teaching skills of teachers, improving teacher-student interactions in classes, and capacity development of state-level institutions such as the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), State Institute of Education Management and Training (SIEMAT) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs).
“Our teachers also need to upgrade their skills and knowledge. Under the existing system, teachers go on teaching the same subject for years together in the same way. We plan to set up teacher learning centres at all DIETs and hold regular training programmes for them,’’ Suresh said.
The government is also setting up new administrative structures which will monitor the working of schools, like the AP School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission.
Meanwhile, the government is also preparing to continue with online classes if the Covid-19 situation requires. Committees are being set up to improve the quality of online classes, improve the quality of teaching, setting up studios from where teachers can live-stream lessons, and developing software to monitor attendance of students online.
Andhra Pradesh’s public school education system has more than 40 lakh children and nearly 2 lakh teachers.
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