Elementary Education in Odisha: An introduction
Odisha is one of the first States in India to initiate the process of implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 considering it as a landmark act in the history of education. The Department of School and Mass Education, being the nodal department to implement the Act, has taken proactive steps towards it’s grounding at all crucial levels, while reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible. This document captures in brief some of the major initiatives, steps and events undertaken in the State towards the implementation of the RTE Act.
Owning the Act: Policy Notifications
- Notification of Odisha RCFCE Rules, 2010: Upon due consultation with varied stakeholders the Odisha RCFCE Rules, 2010 was notified on 27th September, 2010. Odisha was the second state in the country after Sikkim to notify the Rules. Amendment to the Rules [Odisha RCFCE (Amendment) Rules, 2010] has been notified on 17th January 2011.
- Important Notifications:
b. School Support Scheme: 29th September 2010
c. Declaration of Academic Authority: (Directorate of Teacher Education and State Council for Educational Research and Training) 20th October 2010
d. Discontinuation of Board Examinations at Elementary Level: 4th November 2010
e. Prohibition of Screening Procedures : 4th November 2010
f. Guidelines for admission in private unaided schools: 18th December 2010
g. Guidelines for composition and functions of SMCs in Elementary Schools: 11th January 2011
h. Declaration of Competent Authority (authorized officer) to sanction prosecution for the offences under Sec 13(2), 18 (5) and 19 (5) of the Act: 21st September 2011
A dedicated technical support Cell, consisting of experienced professionals, has been established with UNICEF support for the implementation of the RCFCE Act, 2009. The Cell has been functioning from the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) office and works in close association with all the Directorates of the School and Mass Education Department, and other related agencies. Technical support and strategic planning in various aspects such as policy formulation, capacity building, IEC development, knowledge management and community mobilization is being the key contribution of the Cell in the implementation of RtE Act in the State.
State Pedagogy Cell:
A Pedagogy cell has been created at OPEPA ( with UNICEF support) to provide technical and programmatic assistance to the Pedagogy Unit of the State for various pedagogical interventions and quality initiatives under the overall framework of RtE Act 2009.
1. Quality schools package for 6000 schools across the state. The Quality Schools package has been initiated across 30 districts in the State in defining standards and enabling inputs/activities to demonstrate compliance to key provisions under RtE. In Phase –I, different officials at the District, Block and Cluster level have adopted one school each, to develop them on a framework of common-minimum requirements for the schools to emerge as Quality schools. The current model for Quality schools is based on a set of pre-determined standards of Quality under the broad framework of demonstrating compliance to implications under the Right to Education Act of 2009.
These selected indicators can be broadly categorized under the following outcomes for RtE compliance;
School Community linkage
Baseline analysis of all 6000 schools has been completed and District and School Report cards provided to schools in respective districts. Low Performing schools have been identified and their Head-Masters and Adopting Officers oriented on strategies for improvement.
2. Fire Safety: All schools in the State have installed some form of fire-safety equipments like Fire-extinguishers, Sand buckets, etc and ensured preparedness against fire related accidents.
3. School Sanitation and Safe Drinking Water Provision: The process of ensuring provision of toilets and drinking water facilities to all schools across the State, in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development is process. About 93% of all rural primary schools have drinking water facility and 84% of rural Primary schools have common toilet facilities (figures as on 25th February 2012). The State is aiming to have full coverage of drinking water and sanitation facility in all Government schools by March 2012. A dedicated School Sanitation and Hygiene Education Cell (SSHE), with technical support from UNICEF, is being made operational to monitor progress in the districts.
4. Resource Materials:
· ‘Samadhan’: This is a teachers’ handbook to aid teachers in preparation and lesson planning for teaching key concepts, sub-concepts and link concepts, identifying learning outcomes, planning resources and materials and evaluating learning in students. The handbook also aids for effectively utilizing instructional time and making classroom teaching more outcome-oriented. A set of 8 books has been developed for all subjects for classes I to VIII based on the revised State textbooks. Teaching-learning guided by these handbooks marks a shift from chapter based teaching to that of concepts and competencies.
· ‘Sadhan’: This second handbook for teachers contains examples and resourceful ideas for developing subject-wise and concept- based teaching-learning materials and is based on the framework for classroom transaction defined in ‘Samadhan’. The objective is to facilitate classroom practices using low-cost and no- cost TLMs. Based on the suggestions provided in the handbook teachers can develop relevant and cost-effective TLMs for concepts or chapters.
· Sanjog: ‘Sanjog’ is a set of 20 Basal readers developed as Supplementary Reading Materials for Classes-I & II each. The Basel reader set provided to 52,150 schools contains a collection of picture stories with simple text and controlled vocabulary with words without and with simple consonant –vowel and dia-critical marker (matra) combinations based on content and concepts in textbooks for classes I-II arranged hierarchically.
Tools for Communication: IEC on RTE
Development of IEC materials on RTE: A variety of Information, Education and Communication materials both in English and Odia have been developed with technical support from UNICEF for generating awareness on RTE as well as for orientation of al department officials. The materials developed so far are as follows:
a. Booklets containing RCFCE Act, 2009 and Odisha RCFCE Rules, 2010 (in English and Odia)
b. Trifold leaflets on provisions of the RCFCE Act (in English and Odia)
c. Handbook on FAQs on RTE (in English)
d. Comprehensive handbook on RCFCE Act, Rules and FAQs (in English)
e. Posters on provisions of the RCFCE Act (in English and Odia)
f. Short film on the provisions of RCFCE Act, 2009 (in Odia)
g. Handbook on School Management Committee(SMC) (Odia)
h. Posters on SMC (Odia)
i. Picture Book on SMC (Odia)
j. Leaflet on SMC – structure, functions and responsibilities
k. Training Module for SMC members (Odia)
Taking RTE far and wide: Sensitization Programmes on RTE
1. State level sensitization meet on RtE: Just after the notification of Odisha RCFCE Rules, the S&ME Department organized several sensitization meets including State level Sensitization Meet which was inaugurated by Honorable Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Pattnaik. These programmes focused on convergence among the different line departments, NGOs and civil society for smooth implementation of the norms and provisions under the Act.
2. District level Sensitization Meets on RtE: Each district conducted a District level sensitization Meet on RtE where a range of participants varied participants including the District Collector, Peoples’ representatives, district level officials of S&ME Dept and other line Depts., NGOs, parents, and children took part. All 30 districts have completed such meets within 14th January, 2011.
3. Sensitization meets for private schools on RtE: Four zonal sensitization meets on RtE for private schools have been conducted in order to generate awareness among private schools on RtE, as well as to build their understanding on the provisions of RtE.
Joining hands for RtE: Liasioning and convergence
1. Inter-departmental convergence: For the effective implementation of the RCFCE Act, 2009, the School and Mass Education Dept. has initiated an inter-departmental convergence process with the following six departments:
a. Scheduled Tribe & Scheduled Tribe Development Dept.
b. Dept. of Women & Child Development
c. Dept. of Health and Family Welfare
d. Dept. of Labor and Employment
e. Dept. of Panchayati Raj
f. Dept. of Rural Development
2. Six such meetings held in December 2010 under the leadership of Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Dept. of S&ME resulted in mutually agreed points of convergence upon which joint action points have been finalized and are being gradually worked upon.
3. Government-Civil Societies partnership: A State consultation on Govt. and civil society partnership was held on 20th December, 2010 in the presence of Mrs. Anita Kaul, Additional Secretary, MHRD and Mrs. Anshu Vaish, Union Secretary for School Education and Literacy, MHRD. The State Government has issued guidance note to all districts on taking support from civil society organization in implementing RtE at the district level.
Building Participation: Community Mobilization
1. Formation of School Management Committees and Sahajog: In a campaign mode, the State took initiatives to form and train the School Management Committees across the State. A module for training of SMC members was developed and training programmes were conducted in 2011 across the State. This will be further supported in 2012 to ensure that the SMCs are able to carry out their roles as envisioned in the RCFCE Act.
2. ‘Shiksha Chetna Abhiyan’: A massive State-wide campaign for sensitizing community members on the RtE Act and encouraging children to enroll in schools as well as highlighting the need for functional sanitation services and promoting hygiene practices was conducted from 15th to 21st April 2011 through community participation. Department of Rural Development, Department of ST & SC Development and UNICEF office for Odisha collaborated in this effort. The RtE Cell provided technical support in strategy development and in facilitating implementation of the same.
Equipping teachers better: Teachers’ Training
Samarthya: An integrated in-service training programme for teachers has been initiated. The training comprises both content based and theme- based modules (National Curriculum Framework and Right to Education and Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation). 1, 37,836 teachers across the State out of the targeted 1, 72,892 have received training for 20 days.
Protecting their rights: Grievance redressal
State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR): The Govt. has notified for the constitution of the SCPCR on 25th November, 2009 and the appointment of Chairperson has been made subsequently made on 13th September, 2010. SCPCR is currently functional with one Chairperson and support staff and is an area which is planned to be strengthened in 2012.
Grievance Redressal Cell and School Students’ Helpline: The Department has constituted a dedicated Grievance Redressal Cell and has set up a toll-free Helpline no. (1800-34567-22) for redressal of grievances related to teachers and school students in the State. The Grievance Redressal Cell is actively engaged in hearing, enquiry, follow-up and redressal of cases from teachers, officers, parents and children. A total no. of 7,816 calls have been registered in the Cell, out of which 1,518 cases pertain to MDM, 72 cases to ST & SC Development Department, and are sent to relevant authorities (MDM Cell and ST & SC Development Department respectively) for enquiry. There are 139 calls that need no enquiry, i.e. calls of appreciation, and acknowledgment. The rest 6,117 cases are assigned for enquiry by the DI, DPC and CI of respective districts, out of which reports for 4,615 cases, i.e. 75.5% have been received and 2,469 cases are fully complied with and closed. 885 cases were found false after enquiry (all figures as on 16th March’12). All schools have displayed this number on their walls and many students and parents have benefitted from the prompt action taken on their calls. Case studies of remarkable experiences and of significant nature have been documented in the form of a handbook named Sampark (may also be downloaded at http://www.orissa.gov.in/schooleducation/pdf/Sampark.pdf)
Tracking Our Performance: Monitoring Mechanism (‘Samiksha’)
Samiksha: A statewide monitoring mechanism is in place since November 2010.This mechanism tracks the performance of schools against 85 indicators on a monthly basis to track performance of all elementary schools in Odisha.
Indicators under Samiksha cover various aspects of RTE, under the categories of School Environment, Curricular Programmes and Co-Curricular Programmes, School-Community Linkage, School Management, and MDM. A range of printed formats for this purpose are used by the officers. About 6,000 officers including State Monitoring officers, DPCs, DIs, CIs, SIs, BRCCs and CRCCs have been trained in phases. A dedicated Performance Tracking Cell (supported by UNICEF) has been functioning in the School and Mass Education Dept. to manage the school monitoring process. The Cell tracks the monitoring process and provides analysis of data and district & block ranking for each month to the District Collector and DPC for review and follow up action at their end on monthly basis. In addition to this, selected State level officials have been designated one district each for close monitoring of key initiatives resulting in identification and analysis of gaps in implementation and assisting the District Project office by suggesting guidelines and district-specific strategies for improvements based on the needs and field-based situation.
In words and images: Documentation of RtE Initiatives
The RtE Cell has documented the initiatives of RtE in the State in the form of reader-friendly booklets for wider dissemination and awareness. Specific interventions like success stories under School Students’ Helpline have been documented in booklet named “Sampark”. All initiatives of the School and Mass Education Department in implementation of RtE can be found documented in the booklet named “Sambhav”. Both Sampark and Sambhav have been released by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Sri Naveen Pattnaik on Children’s Day (14th Nov’11) at the annual State level children’s event.
a. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) process: The State academic authority, Directorate of TE & SCERT has taken steps towards the formulation of guidelines and support materials for implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation at the elementary stage in the State. The following are updates on the same:
· Draft State framework for implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation at the elementary stage is ready and being reviewed by experts.
· Draft teacher’s manual on CCE is ready for review. There are two volumes – one for primary stage (classes 1-5) and the other for the upper primary level (classes 6-8). Each volume is designed to provide adequate insight into the two critical parameters of CCE- ‘What to assess in each domain of learning and development?’ and ‘How to plan and what tools/techniques are necessary for assessment?’ The Manual describes the concepts and sub-concepts in the lessons, expected learning outcomes and suggested tools and techniques to assess students’ progress in line with the Teacher’s Handbook ‘SAMADHAN’ provided by the State.
· A training package on CCE for training of elementary school teachers is developed and is being reviewed by experts. The training package consists of themes that have been designed to provide comprehensive knowledge and skills required for effective planning and implementation of CCE in different areas of students learning and progress.
b. Special Training: State academic authority, SCERT has developed the Curriculum for special training and materials for main-streaming children admitted into age-appropriate classes as per the RCFCE Act, 2009. ‘Special Training Programmes’ are expected to be implemented during the ensuing academic session (2012-2013).
· The State Framework for ‘Special Training’ of children admitted into age-appropriate classes has been prepared
· The syllabi and the materials for special training have been prepared.
· The training package for orientation of elementary school teachers on administration of Special Training are under preparation. This shall be completed by the end of February, 2012.
a. School Development Plan: OPEPA has currently initiated the process of facilitating the newly formed SMCs towards preparation of School Development Plans (SDP) for all schools across the State. Consultations at the State level have been conducted and required guidelines have been developed. 4, 89,763 members of 54,848 schools and members of local authority have been oriented on SMCs in RtE in a 3 Day capacity building programme ‘SAHAJOG’.
b. Inclusion: 1, 30,939 Children with special needs have been identified and 1, 26,162 have been enrolled in schools. 601 Block Resource Teachers (BRTs) have been trained to support CWSN at the block level and 1,14,472 aids and appliances have been distributed, 49,666 ramps have been constructed and 5474 sets of Braille books have been supplied to schools. As a focused intervention for girls NPEGL has been implemented in 3,159 clusters of 190 blocks in 27 districts and 2,606 Model Cluster schools developed to provide vocational training. 182 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) are functional with 16,819 students enrolled and provided hostel facility. 1,374 teaching and non-teaching staffs have been posted.
c. Recognition of Private Schools and Awareness generation on RTE: The Department is planning to initiate a more rigorous awareness drive on RTE provisions, targeting the private schools across the State. This drive will also ensure recognition of the schools as per the notified norms of the State. Currently efforts are on to reach out to private schools through mass media print ads so as to boost the admission of children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in 25% reserved seats in private schools as per RTE Act.
Challenges in the implementation Process:
a) Capacity building and quality of teachers: The proper implementation of the Act depends largely on the teachers and their understanding of the provisions of the Act. This demands a transformation in the approach, i.e. from welfare to rights-based approach. Towards this end, continual sensitization and capacity building process is essential. To enhance the quality of education imparted in the schools, trained and quality human resource is one of the most important aspects. Despite the intensive efforts by the State to implement the Act in letter and spirit, several violations of the Act are still observed at school level. Hence the resources necessary for recruiting quality teachers, and their capacity building have to be adequate as well as ensuring supportive supervision mechanism in place. Ultimately, the presence of adequately trained teachers should result in better learning outcomes for children.
b) Inclusive education: There are several barriers to inclusive education in the State, infrastructural and social being two of them. School approach roads, classrooms, and toilets are yet to be barrier-free for Children with special needs, making access a big concern for such children. Several instances of caste-based discrimination have also been noticed in classrooms. These mostly go unnoticed as they are unwittingly considered as ‘normal practice’. This requires focused interventions and attitudinal change over a period of time. In addition, the training and awareness of the teachers to support children with special needs in a mainstream programme has a long way to go.
c) Capacity building of SMC members: Under the provisions of the Act, the SMC members hold significant rights and responsibilities towards the management and development of the schools. However the extent and quality of engagement and ownership that the Act expects of the SMC can hardly be achieved without a dynamic and evolving mobilization and sensitization process. The duties of the members will only be justifiably functional if their rights are understood and asseRtEd. The Act also demands profound involvement of the members with the school and community in preparing the School Development Plans, for which the SMCs require significant handholding and facilitation from other sources, as well as requires nurturing time for them to evolve as institutions. This requires engagement of several stakeholders, most importantly, the civil society, in bringing about the required changes.
d) 25% reservation in private unaided schools for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups: This provision under the Act is made with a very far-reaching intent and vision for the children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. However, the modalities for implementation of the same is clouded by several concerns, like resistance from the private unaided schools, reimbursement procedures for such children’s expenditures, feasibility of provision of MDM to such children, etc. There are also practical concerns about such children being discriminated against within the school. This requires consultations at various levels so as to come up with feasible solutions, and strong monitoring mechanism to prevent violations.