Improving Quality in Elementary Education in Himachal Pradesh
The State’s commitment towards education for all and focus on disadvantaged groups and backward areas have led to a significant rise in literacy level and school enrolment. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of quality.
In rural Himachal, a majority of schools require consolidation. Rudimentary analysis reveals that two consolidated schools can be formed out of three small schools in vicinity, provided some other considerations are met.
The pedagogical aspects of elementary education are the teaching and learning strategies used in the classroom. Educators must be able to identify the most effective ways to teach students and support their learning. Successful teachers have a command of the subject matter and an ability to connect it to students’ lives. They also use developmentally appropriate instructional practices and methods.
A successful school internship is a critical component of the teacher preparation program. This experience helps candidates understand the unique challenges faced by young learners and prepares them to be effective educators. During their school internship, candidates observe and study the management structure and functioning of schools, including the maintenance of different records (e.g. CCE records, admission-withdrawal registers, attendance records, stock registers, etc.).
In addition, they prepare twelve observation lessons (6 in each teaching subject) under the guidance of senior trained teachers of the school. They are also required to deliver 36 macro / practice lessons in their second year of the course.
A comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of education is essential to a child’s development. This includes the syllabi, teaching methods, and the learning environment. It also focuses on developing values and skills that will help children succeed in life. Education is a process that is meant to civilize humankind and awaken humanity’s potential. It is a multipurpose tool that inculcates social, economic and cultural awareness in people and encourages them to become lifelong learners.
Candidates who want to pursue a career in elementary education should obtain a DElEd certificate. This 2-year course is offered by the Himachal Pradesh DElEd Board. The board also organizes an entrance exam for teachers in Himachal Pradesh. To prepare for this exam, candidates should review the curriculum. Applicants can download the HP TET syllabus and study accordingly. The superintendent of the examination centre will seal OMR sheets and attendance charts after the exam is over. The sealed packets will be submitted to the BEEOs in the respective blocks on the same day or the next day.
Although education is a priority for Himachal Pradesh, infrastructure and quality are still a challenge. While the state government has focused on improving physical infrastructure through a high proportion of classrooms meeting minimum requirements and through a commitment to SSA expenditure, there is a shortage of qualified teachers and low enrolment rates.
Rudimentary analysis suggests that a policy of consolidation of schools with low enrolment could result in substantial savings by eliminating duplication of facilities and reducing the number of unused rooms. It could also help to improve the quality of education by enabling more students to receive higher quality teachers and facilities.
However, the hilly environment and high cost of access present obstacles to such a policy. Under the State RTE rules, primary schools must be within 1.5 km of habitations and upper primary schools within 3 km. Even with free bus transportation, it would be difficult to achieve these numbers in Himachal’s mountainous districts.
In an effort to improve student learning, Himachal Pradesh commissioned a large-scale third-party assessment. The assessment, designed and implemented by Convegenius Insights (CGI), used tablets preloaded with testing software to test 20,000 students across grades three, five, and eight over a four-week period. The assessment also generated insights at district, block, and school level for more granular decision-making.
The state’s efforts to improve the quality of education have been recognized nationally and internationally. Himachal Pradesh has one of the highest literacy rates in India and is transforming itself into an education hub.
However, the state faces many challenges in providing basic education to all children. One such challenge is lack of space and teachers. Three primary schools in Himachal Pradesh are running without a room, ten run with two rooms, 177 in three rooms, 89 in four to six rooms and 654 in seven to ten rooms. This is a major challenge for achieving the goals of CCE and improving the learning outcomes.