How committed is the government to sustaining the educational reforms of the last few years?
After our government took over, 54,000 teachers whose cases were stuck in court were selected, counselled and sent to school. We did in six months what the previous government couldn’t in their five years.
We also strengthened the bond between the community and government schools through monthly Bal Sabhas that are held in village chaupals across the state. These events are attended by teachers, students and community elders… the idea is for all stakeholders to come together to improve the quality of education. On the Bal Sabhas held on May 9, villagers made donations worth Rs 5 crore – additional rooms in schools, fans, furniture, uniform, RO, etc…
We also launched the Rajiv Gandhi Career guidance portal for students of classes 9-12. Now every child has a login ID through which she can know her career options…
We have also done a lot for teachers. For instance, there were 73 Urdu teachers who had been posted in schools where there were no students for the subject. Similarly, for teachers of commerce and so on. So we transferred them to match students with subject teachers and thus used our resources more effectively.
We undid some of the curriculum changes the previous government brought in to impose the Sangh ideology on students.
Also, for the first time, we set up 33 Mahatma Gandhi English-medium schools, one in each district, with Classes from 1 to 8. We had to do admissions through lottery because the demand was huge. We plan to set up such schools in every block.
Is the government planning to reopen the schools that were merged by your predecessor?
We have formed a committee to examine the merger exercise that the previous government undertook. According to the information we have, 2,851 schools were shut in violation of RTE norms. We will examine that and also see if some of these schools have enough students. If they do, we may reopen them.
Are funds a challenge? Most of the schools depend heavily on private donors and community leaders to meet their infrastructure demands.
Funding will never be an issue. The CM in his Budget speech said 50 new primary schools will be set up, 60 will be converted from primary to higher primary, 100 from higher primary to secondary, and 500 secondary schools will be turned into higher secondary schools. So many schools have never been announced in any Budget before. So funding is not an issue.