Biju Prabhakar, Director of Public Instruction (DPI), sought to know if the watering down of the criteria for determining ‘uneconomic’ schools had produced the desired results.

Biju Prabhakar, who took over as Director of Public Instruction (DPI) a few weeks ago, has come up with a virtual critique of the present state of affairs in the school education system and sought a public debate on ways to lift the standard of teaching and learning at the school level.

In an 18-page status report on the school education scene, circulated to teachers’ organisations for discussion, Mr. Prabhakar has wondered aloud whether the many initiatives of the past few decades had produced any positive result and called for an honest introspection about the current state of affairs in the school education system.

Citing the sharp fall in enrolment in government and aided educational institutions, Mr. Prabhakar sought to know if the watering down of the criteria for determining ‘uneconomic’ schools had produced the desired results. Even as schools in the government and aided sector have been struggling to stay afloat, those in the private unaided sector have been flourishing, with children drawn from even very ordinary families being put in them, Mr. Prabhakar pointed out.

From 25 students in a class in 2011, the strength necessary to escape being bracketed as an ‘uneconomic’ school had been lowered to 15. In 2011, the number of ‘uneconomic’ schools stood at 4,614. Shortly, the State would have to lower the bar further to 10 or 5 and to nil to save these schools. “Let there be no doubt on this,” Mr. Prabhakar has said.

The DPI has also raised serious questions about the efficacy of computer education in schools and raised the question whether the State has reached its destination in IT-based education. He has also voiced concern about the valuation system which, he says, enables even a student who secures 10 marks to pass the examination. “Shouldn’t we do a reality check on the 100 per cent success margin,” he has asked.

The DPI has also emphasised the need for more effective supervisory role for headmasters, principals and managers of schools and better rapport among them so that they could come up with solutions for their immediate problems rather than engaging in ‘power struggles’. He has also sought a social audit of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

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