Delhi’s education reforms between 2015-20 with the government’s re-election (which can be partially credited) came up as a prominent cause of excitement among stakeholders in the Indian education system. This article is an attempt to understand the developments in Delhi’s school education based on a January 2021 released report titled: School Education Reforms in Delhi (2015-2020): An independent report by Boston Consulting Group. It has been launched at the Delhi Education Conference 2021 and can be found on their website.
Delhi’s education system – what’s so unique about it?
As per the report, the Delhi education system consists of around 5,600 schools with approximately 44 lakh students from 1-12th standards. It also possesses management support through several authorities i.e. – Department of Education, Municipal Corporations of Delhi (south, east, and north Delhi corporations, Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) and New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) among many others. However, most of the schools fall under three primary segments – Department of Education, MCD, and Private Schools. Another unique aspect about it is that majority of its primary school students (about 87%) are housed in MCD and private schools, with the recently introduced happiness curriculum being implemented in them.
What are the reforms that grabbed everybody’s attention?
While there are many reforms such as the mid-day meal scheme, allotment of stipend, uniforms & books to students for universalisation of education, the recent reforms in the Delhi education system can be seen through six broader themes–
- Reforms in core teaching-learning methods
- Introduction of human values and transformative learning
- Infrastructure enhancement and providing an enabling, dignified environment
- Meaningful and continuous community engagement
- Head of School and teacher enablement and capacity building
- Organisation and governance strengthening
Initiatives like Chunauti (grouping of students), Buniyaad (an intervention towards fundamental literacy and numeracy) and the shift from syllabus completion to the achievement of learning outcomes are being made towards the learning process. Happiness curriculum and Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum, construction of new buildings with additional classrooms and upgradation of amenities are being introduced to develop the areas of transformative learning and school infrastructure.
Exposure visits, continuous capacity building for heads of schools and teacher mentoring are also being taken care for capacity building. Another major reform includes the more informed teacher-recruitment, outsourcing, regulation of private schools and reconstruction of District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) and SCERT.
What do the results (through several surveys) suggest?
The careful implementation of the above-mentioned initiatives and strategies saw some noteworthy results on several levels. The improved learning outcomes suggested a steady increase in CBSE board results reaching 98% pass percentage of class 12th students in 2020. It also saw a growth in fundamental literacy and numeracy among class 6th to 8th students but recommended that much is yet to be done towards the same which New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 calls as ‘urgent mission’ too. Happiness Curriculum (HC) and Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum (EMC) have also been received positively and has resulted in increased student retention & teacher-student engagement.
Vision(s) behind such reforms
Accordingly, Delhi’s education reforms aim to achieve two core purposes:
A. Every child must have access to high-quality education, rivalling the best private schools anywhere in the country. B. Beyond employment, education must create conscious and public-spirited citizens who contribute to the progress of human society guided by Jeevan Vidya Shivir (JVS).
What do Parents have to say?
95%+ of surveyed parents believe “Delhi Schools have become better” and 23% of surveyed parents had moved their children from private to government schools.
55% parents observed better academic performance whereas 42% of them saw regular attendance as major changes among their children along with the better staff input and attitude from their side. Around 80% parents said they benefitted from the enhanced awareness about their children due to the regular-held parent-teacher meetings. It is also being found out that the majority of parents are aware of the initiatives but lack knowledge about their objectives and emphasis.
What do the teachers have to say
95% of surveyed teachers reported improvement in the quality of education along with 91% of them feeling more motivated towards teaching. Introduction of new holistic curriculum marked as the most impactful academic change by teachers. Heads of schools have become more encouraging, promote collective ownership and visit classrooms more often cited as the most impactful academic changes by teachers. 57% teachers feel SMCs helped them connect with parents however up to 25% find no benefit or report detrimental impact.
Futuristic directions- what’s coming?
The report found that future guidance/jobs & ensuring student learning are the most prevalent asks for improvement on one hand. On the other, more involvement from parents & better vocational & skill training programmes are other major concerns. The other key-takeaways are-
- Looking at the first five years of reforms as a way to fix the base to strengthen it and they still have some way to go further. Also, looking at the upcoming five years with an- ‘transformative agenda’- e.g., extensive reforms in the school curriculum and related assessments.
- Rigorous implementation of the Happiness and Entrepreneurship Mindset Curricula through their integration.
- Introduction of organisational reforms to strengthen the education department along with a restructuring of DIETs and SCERT along with the government aiming to recruit 10 percent more teachers than the sanctioned number to create a surplus.
- Setting up of a Delhi Board and reforming assessments since at present Delhi lacks an exclusive education board (operates under CBSE), unlike other states.
- Setting up a university for teacher training since currently, there is no established system that ensures systemic and continuous training of teachers., the government is also working towards establishing a Teacher Training University. The university will be affiliated with Ambedkar University and would offer various programmes including a regular Bachelor of Education (B. Ed), four-year integrated Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)-B. Ed course after class 12, Master of Education (M. Ed), Master of Arts (M.A.), and PhD programmes. It will provide best-in-class training programmes for new teachers as well as for existing teachers who have completed five to seven years since getting their B. Ed degrees or clearing their Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) examinations.
One of the major recommendations of the Delhi government in this report- ‘setting up of a Delhi Board’ is set to happen anytime soon now. As per reports, Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced that Delhi Board of School Education (DBSE) will be established along with the de-affiliation of many schools from CBSE. The board will have 20-25 Delhi government schools under it from the present academic session, i.e., 2021-22, with the plan of covering all schools in Delhi under it within the next five years.
There are many other interesting insights this report sheds light upon, eventually giving us a larger picture with possible details from the government’s takes on these reforms-cum-initiatives to that of children coming from these Delhi government schools (of course keeping the voices of the teachers, head principles and parents too). Hopefully, these reforms will get expanded to create enough space for criticism, innovation and growth within the school education arena keeping the spirits of universalisation of quality education alive.
Featured image source: BCG.com