At the start of the new academic year on June 14, NGOs attached to BMC’s School Excellence Programme (SEP) will begin the process of handing over the management of 148 civic schools currently under their care to the civic body.
This is following the civic body’s decision to discontinue the programme on account of the “poor improvement” in students’ performance till 2012. The project had begun in 2010 in partnership with UNICEF to tackle deteriorating education quality and attendance rates in civic schools.
“We have asked NGOs working in the programme to create an action-plan for a one-year hand-holding programme with us, which will end before our takeover of the programme in 2015-2016 academic year. NGOs will impart skills to teachers and administrators and train them to carry forward the model for better quality education,” said civic education committee chairman and BJP corporator Manoj Kotak.
The five-year programme covers 148 Urdu and Marathi medium schools, although it was initially to cover a total of 1,327 civic schools in Mumbai. It included participation from organisations such as McKinsey & Co and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and was expected to include music and fun-based activities in teaching techniques. Other areas covered under the programme were teacher and headmaster training, identifying a proper activity-based methodology (pedagogy), reducing administrative and paper work for teachers and headmasters, as well as systemising the NGO participation at the municipal school level.
In July 2013, the project proposed for acquiring funds worth Rs 6 crore for extending the programme by a year. The NGOs named in the proposal which was up for renewal in the committee meeting included : Nandi (which handles the civic urdu medium schools), Kaivalaya, Rishi Valley, and Students in Teaching. Apart from these, some of the other names attached to the project are Teach for India and Aakansha. At the meeting, civic officials said data on the performance of students enrolled in these schools showed a rise by about 12 per cent in two years. The committee, however, denied approval for extension on the grounds of NGO Praja’s annual report on BMC schools that pegged the drop-out rate in civic schools at more than 17 per cent.
“Such a minor increase in the performance-rate of students is not enough considering the amount of funds and resources BMC pumped into the programme. The SEP has not even created a new syllabus for the schools, instead they have designed a supporting syllabus for which the civic administration has been made to provide the basic services such as printing materials, questions etc. Moreover, at every school, the civic body has appointed a Shikshan Sahayogi (educational assistant) to carry out most of the work for the NGOs. If we anyway are going to do so much, why are we still engaging NGOs when results are not up to the mark?” said Kotak.
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