EDUCATION TRIBUNE

‘Our work has just begun’
G. S. Paul
Who could forget his popular projects like “Bori-se-Basta”, “Asra” and “Chalo Beti School”. It was he who persuaded the NGOs, Gram Panchayats, the PTAs and the community to fund these massive projects, so it was appropriate that Mr Bahadur Singh, Principal, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 56 (GMSSS-56), got this year’s Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Award for Life Time Achievement. It could have gone to no one else.

Knowledge enriches the poor
Schools that make a difference
Kanwalpreet
“School Chale Hum…” it’s great to hear this song as I drive to college every morning. It paints a vivid picture of children hopping and skipping happily to school. Article 45 of the Directive Principles endeavored to impart free and compulsory education to each and every child till the age of 14.

Setting agenda for the future
Kanupriya Baria
“Education makes the people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave,” said Lord Erougham. Even after six decades of Independence, the Indian education system is not up to the mark and the root cause is ineffective schooling.



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Our work has just begun’
G. S. Paul

(From left) Ms Simran Randhawa, Ms Jasmine Jakhar, Ms Raksha Sharma and Mr Bahadur Singh, who received this year’s Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Awards in School Teaching, at CII, Chandigarh
(From left) Ms Simran Randhawa, Ms Jasmine Jakhar, Ms Raksha Sharma and Mr Bahadur Singh, who received this year’s Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Awards in School Teaching, at CII, Chandigarh. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Who could forget his popular projects like “Bori-se-Basta”, “Asra” and “Chalo Beti School”. It was he who persuaded the NGOs, Gram Panchayats, the PTAs and the community to fund these massive projects, so it was appropriate that Mr Bahadur Singh, Principal, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 56 (GMSSS-56), got this year’s Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Award for Life Time Achievement. It could have gone to no one else.

Since 2002, the Jan Seva Trust of the Saboo family gives away the Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Awards in School Teaching every year in four categories to outstanding teachers from the tri-city.

The teachers selected this year from different city schools—Mr Bahadur Singh, Principal, GMSSS-56; Ms Jasmine Jakhar, GMSSS-33; Ms Raksha Sharma, Head Teacher, Government Primary School, Mauli Complex; and Mr Simran Randhawa, Special Educator, St John’s-26— got these awards at CII, Sector 31, Chandigarh.

“Why should the children of the poor be denied education? I would often think,” says Mr Bahadur Singh, who has vowed to work for underprivileged children. “I urge the Administration to adopt these projects. I have won nearly 40 awards, but this award has its own significance. This will further encouraged me to continue to work for education for all.”  

Life was not easy for Mr Bahadur Singh. Coming from a rural background, he started teaching at a young age, but he soon saw that he was able to motivate underprivileged students to work hard and excel in life. He is also the recipient of the State Award for his contribution in education.

He has contributed immensely to promote community service, national integration, adult education, family planning, girl child education, anti-dowry campaign and drug de-addiction. His social work in the UT villages of Badheri, Lohara and Maloya has earned him many honours. He was instrumental in running a “night school” with some success, for which he gives the credit to a team of 125 social welfare agents he had formed to carry on the project.

Ms Raksha Sharma, The Head Teacher of Government Primary School, Mouli Complex, Chandigarh, opted to teach in slums. She receives this year’s Excellence Award for Teaching Economically Underprivileged Children.

“Children of the poor come from uneducated background and it is difficult to motivate them to study with devotion, but I have been successful in making some of them good at studies,” says Ms Sharma.

She started her career in 1972 in a rural school and has been teaching children in rural areas since then. She believes that a teacher should also be a friend and a guide.  

She motivated the NGOs and the general public to fund the construction of classrooms and toilet blocks and increase other amenities in rural schools. She would always motivate her colleagues to attend in-service teaching programmes.

Ms Jasmine Jakhar, recipient of the Excellence Award for School Teaching (Secondary Classes), has achieved much more than her peers. An English lecturer at GMSSS, Sector 33, Chandigarh, Ms Jakhar believes that recognition keeps you going in the right direction.

“The distance between the student and the teacher has shortened. Now, you have to inspire them to get them to listen… build an atmosphere of friendship and confidence. Since, I teach adolescents, a teacher’s role in character building of the child is more important at that level, as they emerge from their cocoons. It is the teacher who views them out, so students should feel that the teacher is there for them,” believes Ms Jakhar.

Earlier, she was Subject Expert at In-Service programmes for teachers. She participated in South Asia Teacher Training Programme to train as Master Trainer at George Washington University, Washington DC, USA, and taught on programmes organised by the United States Educational Foundation in India at New Delhi and Lahore.

She has also got training to produce radio lessons in English and writing material on population education. She has worked against dowry, AIDS, drug addiction and child abuse in labour colonies in Chandigarh and the village of Madanpura in Mohali. She has also taught children and adults in the colonies of Chandigarh and Mohali.

In recognition of her innovative teaching abilities and devotion towards children with special needs, Ms Simran Randhawa, Special Educator in St John’s High School, Sector 26, was given this year’s Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Award for School Teaching (Primary Classes).

A humble and emotional Ms Randhawa, who has pioneered several interactive programmes in school like “Let’s Play, Learn”, “Sonday System” and “Life Skills”, believes that a teacher should act as a facilitator. “A friendly approach with students always clicks,” she says.

She has a bachelor’s degree in dealing with mental retardation from the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secundrabad, and master’s degree in special education.   She has M. Phil in education from Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, specializing in special education and learning disabilities.

She has been teaching children with learning disabilities; hyperactive children; children suffering from anxiety related problems and physically challenged children. 

“Teach them through example and they will do it with compassion, conviction and courage,” says Ms Simran Randhawa.

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Knowledge enriches the poor
Schools that make a difference
Kanwalpreet

“School Chale Hum…” it’s great to hear this song as I drive to college every morning. It paints a vivid picture of children hopping and skipping happily to school. Article 45 of the Directive Principles endeavored to impart free and compulsory education to each and every child till the age of 14. To achieve this, the government has, under the 86th Amendment, added Article 21-A to the Constitution. It is now bound to give free and compulsory education to children in the age group of 6 to 14. Education has, thus, become a Fundamental Right.

While the government was still trying to come out with a plan for spreading education, some educational institutions had been doing their bit by educating children from the economically weaker sections. St John’s High School in Sector 26, Chandigarh, is one example.

Its aim is to identify children who are eager to study and believe in fighting the odds. Ms P. Cheema, the Principal, says: “Our Indradhanush programme puts children from the economically deprived section in school. We take it as a challenge to identify the strength of each child so that he or she gets basic education at least up to class X. We want to provide them with vocational training, for which, we have classes in the afternoon and 50 per cent of these children settle down well in school.”

In the school, their financial and other needs met, but who takes care of it when they get into institutions of higher education? A rickshaw puller’s son, armed with good education, would not like to pull a rickshaw; would it not drive him to frustration if he did not have the resources to take his education further?

Ms Cheema says: “The St John’s Old Boys Association (SJOBA) has promised to follow the progress of these children in college and ensure that after the vocational training, they are absorbed in good companies. Neither the association nor the school is ever going to abandon these children.

“Different members of the association would look after students with different interests. There are not more than 30 children each year in the Indradhanush section, so the number is manageable. The present Indradhanush section has progressed up to class VIII and we do not want to leave any gap. Our aim is to turn over to society boys who could contribute positively to its progress.” That’s indeed laudable.

Bhavan Vidayalaya, Sector 27-B, is another school in Chandigarh with a similar programme. Ms Mohindra, Principal of this school says: “Our programme, Oonchai, is for unreached children. Every afternoon, 60 children from the slums come here to study. We have hired teachers especially for them. In these classes, the emphasis is on Hindi and mathematics. These children have exceptional mathematical skills. Some of them have grown up begging on the streets, counting and dividing the earnings at the end of the day, which has taught them to do quick calculations mentally, even though they may not be very good at remembering and applying formulas.

“The attendance falls every Saturday, as these children go out to beg in the name of Shani Maharaj. They say they make a big haul on this day. We try to discourage them from begging, but we expect slow results. If we force them, they would stop attending school. We have hired teachers who have seen poverty and struggle in life. They are the source of inspiration for these children.

“Our purpose is to enable them to read, write and learn about personal hygiene. Age-wise, we have a mixed group. We have a 14-year-old child studying here, who realised the importance of education so late that no other school was willing to take him. The boy is eager to make up for the lost time. The poor children get free uniform and stationery along with free food. Everyday, they get tea, a glass of milk and a banana each. The women’s wing of the Rotary Club arranges for their clothes and medicines. The students of Bhavan Vidayalaya are encouraged to celebrate their birthdays with these children. Last year, they collected Rs 2 lakh for the programme. On Sports Day, these children proudly march on as part of a small contingent.”

Ms Mohindra tells you about the eagerness of three daughters of a rickshaw puller, “After their father drops them here in the morning, the girls keep looking at the school with anxious eyes. They are eager to study at that hour, but scared to enter the school. However, at 3 pm, they walk proudly into the school, dressed in clean uniforms. They enjoy sitting in the classroom. The sheer experience of being in school thrills them. This is what we aim to see in each child.”

Here’s wishing the pioneers all the success.

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Setting agenda for the future
Kanupriya Baria

“Education makes the people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave,” said Lord Erougham. Even after six decades of Independence, the Indian education system is not up to the mark and the root cause is ineffective schooling.

There are many factors that affect the system directly or indirectly, starting from absenteeism. Recently, a photograph published in the newspaper showed empty benches with hardly five or six students in the class and no teacher. If this continues, our learning levels would be adversely affected.

If we take the example of Punjab, the number of B.Ed teacher is huge, but they could be seen protesting every now and then.

An All-India study of Class V children showed that 40.2 per cent could not read class II level paragraphs and 56.6 per cent could not do subtraction. In Kerala, over 50 per cent could not read the paragraph and nearly 70 per cent could not do subtraction.

Expensive private schools mushroom every other day. Though these offer us quality education, but not many children can afford to study these schools. Education is for all and all should have the equal chance to study and grow into responsible citizens. Schools are not for the rich and the poor, but for the young and the talented, who should be given practical knowledge as well.

Students should not be judged on the basis of final examination performance, but on the basis of overall performance in the academic year.

In 2001-02, the public expenditure on education in India was Rs 84,179 crore, just 4.02 per cent of the GDP, according to Department of Education statistical figures. To promote quality education, many NGOs, FIIs and government agencies have joined hands. By improving the education sectors, we could contribute at least 2-3 per cent to the GDP.

English is a global language and a key to a successful communication. Students should be taught to have a good command of English, apart from learning their regional language, because now we need to expose ourselves to the world.

Another dark factor of the education system is the number of dropouts. The percentage of dropouts from 8th standard is highest. There are many theories explaining reasons for dropouts from all disciplines— psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics — but the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, said 77 per cent of the 8th graders had reported various school related reasons for leaving studies.

A few years back, vocational courses were made popular, but due to a lack of efficient faculty, all was lost. Even though, the number of vocational courses is still large, only 2 per cent of the youth join these courses.

Opening higher education to foreign direct investment should be encouraged. The education standards in developed countries are good. Their contribution will surely help us grow. Allowing foreign institutes to set up campuses here could save the outlay of approximately Rs 4.5 billion every year for education.

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