Saturday, July 2, 2011

RTE in Orissa - Initiatives So Far by the School and Mass Education Department, Govt. of Orissa

Odisha with a population of 41.94 million (Census 2011) is the 11th largest Indian state in terms of population. Nearly half of all 314 blocks in Odisha are identified as educationally backward blocks (EBB). These blocks have the rural female literacy less than the national average and a gender gap above the national average (21.59%).In terms of literacy rate Odisha lies at the 25th place having a literacy rate of 73.45 (Census 2011) which is below the national average of 74.04.Odisha is the sixth state in the country with a high percentage of out of school children in the age group of 6-14 years at 4.5% in 2010; the number remains higher than the national average of 3.5%. In terms of completion rate of elementary education there has been a significant increase from 82% in 2007-08 to 93% in 2010-11.
The Govt. of Odisha has wholeheartedly welcomed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 considering it as a landmark Act in the history of education and a potential means for bringing about much needed transformation in outreach and quality of elementary education in the State. The Department of School and Mass Education, being the key channel of implementation of the Act, has taken upon itself, the responsibility of taking proactive steps towards it’s grounding at all crucial levels, while reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible for their involvement and support. This document attempts to capture in brief, some of the major initiatives, steps and events undertaken in the State towards the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009 in Odisha so far.

Major Initiatives so far

1.       1. Notification of Orissa RCFCE Rules, 2010: Upon due consultation with varied stakeholders (i.e. relevant line departments, Civil Society Organizations, Teachers’ Associations, academicians, Training institutions, children) and inputs from the Law Department the Odisha RCFCE Rules, 2010 were notified on 27th September, 2010. The amendment to the Rules [Orissa RCFCE (Amendment) Rules, 2010] has been notified on the 17th of January’11.

2.      2. Issuance of Notifications: In compliance with the RCFCE Act, 2009 the State Govt. has issued following notifications from time to time and these have been placed in the public domain:

b. School Support Scheme: 29th Sept'10
c. Declaration of Academic Authority: (Directorate of Teacher Education and State Council for Educational Research and Training) 20th Oct’10
d. Discontinuation of Board Examinations at Elementary Level from Academic Session 2010-11: 4th Nov ’10
e. Prohibition of Screening Procedures : 4th Nov ’10
f. Guidelines for admission in private unaided schools: 18th Dec’10
g. Guidelines for composition and functions of School Management Committee in Elementary Schools: 11.01.11
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 Sept ’11

1.     3. RTE Cell: A dedicated Right to Education Cell consisting of experienced professionals has been established to provide technical support to the School and Mass Education Department for the implementation of the RCFCE Act, 2009. The Cell has been functioning from the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) office and in close association with the Directorates of the School and Mass Education Department, six other Departments for convergence (i.e. Departments of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, SC& ST Development, Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare, and Labour & Employment) and other related agencies. Technical support and strategic planning in various aspects such as policy advocacy, capacity building, IEC development, knowledge management and community mobilization is the key contribution of the Cell to implementation of RTE.

1.   4. Pedagogy Cell: A dedicated Cell consisting of officers and technical consultants has been established for the purpose of providing much-needed impetus to improving pedagogical processes at schools. This will aim at enhancing the quality of education in schools and close monitoring of the same across the State. The Cell is closely monitoring the progress of implementation of such programmes across schools in the State. Some important interventions of the Cell are as below:
a.       SAMADHAN: It is a pedagogical intervention aimed at improving classroom transactions. It is a teacher’s hand-book which was developed by 60 good teachers from 30 districts, DIET & SCERT Faculty members, and eminent educationists of the State.
b.       SADHAN: Basing on the concepts and the activities defined in SAMADHAN teaching learning materials required to strengthen the classroom have been proposed in SADHAN.
c.        SANJOG: A graded material developed for easy communication of language in Class I & II. The concepts of language of both the classes have been arranged in a graded manner in a ladder fashion as a result the teacher will face no difficulty in transmitting language in both the classes. Each set of SANJOG consists of 2 sets of 20 booklets each.
d.       ‘Ama Vidyalay’: Towards making the schools more child-friendly as per RTE Act, a drive for beautification of school environment across the State with support from UNICEF has been rolled out. This is meant to aid learning progress of children significantly, by using several elements of child-friendly activity-based learning in the school building, walls and spaces. The plan has been approved by Hon’ble Chief Minister for implementation and has been shared with senior officers, district level officials from S&ME Dept., Dept. of RD and SC&ST Development Dept. on the 9th of March’11.

5. State level Consultation workshops: A series of consultation workshops with varied stakeholders (i.e. relevant line departments, Civil Society Organizations, Teachers’ Associations, academicians, Training institutions, children) were conducted between April 2010 and August 2010 for generating inputs for formulation of the Orissa Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RCFCE) Rules.

6. Formation and Training of State Team of Trainers: A team comprising of 30 officials of the Department and Consultants has been formed as State Team of Trainers (SToT) on Right to Education to facilitate awareness generation and capacity building across the State, and also to act as key resource group in strategizing and implementation of RCFCE Act, 2009. This team was provided with intensive training on Right to Education in October’10.

Posters on RTE
Printed IEC Materials on RTE

7. Development of IEC materials on RTE: A variety of Information, Education and Communication materials both in English and Oriya have been developed for generating awareness on RTE as well as for orientation of officials at all levels of the system. The IEC development has been supported by UNICEF. The materials developed so far are as follows:
a. Booklets containing RCFCE Act, 2009 and Orissa RCFCE Rules, 2010 (in English)
b. Booklets containing RCFCE Act, 2009 and Orissa RCFCE Rules, 2010 (in Oriya)
c. Trifold leaflets on provisions of the RCFCE Act (in English)
d. Trifold leaflets on provisions of the RCFCE Act (in Oriya)
e. Handbook on FAQs on RTE (in English)
f. Comprehensive Handbook on Act, Rules and FAQs (in English)
g. Posters on provisions of the Act (5 types in English)
h. Posters on provisions of the Act (5 types in Oriya)
i. Short film on the provisions of RCFCE Act, 2009 (in Oriya)
j. Handbook on School Management Committee (Oriya)
k. Posters on SMC (Oriya)
l. Picture Book on SMC (Oriya)
m. Leaflet on SMC – structure, functions and responsibilities (Oriya)

n. Training Module for SMC members (Oriya)
State level Sensitization Meet on RTE

8. State Level Sensitization Meet on RTE: A half-day State level Sensitization Meet was held on 4th Nov’10. The event was inaugurated by Honorable Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Pattnaik and the IEC materials were officially released on this day. About 800 people including officials of the School and Mass Education Dept., people’s representatives, senior officials of other relevant departments, teachers, Head Masters, parents and children participated in the event.

9. Performance Tracking and Monitoring Process (‘Samiksha’):
A dedicated Performance Tracking Cell has been functioning in the School and Mass Education Dept. to manage the school monitoring process, a flagship initiative of the Department of School and Mass Education. Different categories of formats for this purpose have been developed, printed and disseminated to the officers including . Training in this regard to about 6,000 officers including DPCs, DIs, CIs, BRCCs and CRCCs has been provided in phases. The monitoring process (‘Samiksha’) has been put in place and analysis of data for the month of November has been completed. This is an on-going process and is focused on the tracking of provisions of RCFCE Act and corrective measures at school level every month.

10. District level Sensitization Meets on RTE:
Each district is hosting a District level Sensitization Meet on RTE where varied participants including the District Collectors, Zilla Parishad Chairpersons, and members, peoples’ representatives, district level officials of S&ME Dept and other line depts., NGOs, parents, and children take part in a day-long programme on provisions and concepts of RTE. The DPCs of respective districts have been organizing the Meets and State Team of Trainers in small teams of three have been facilitating them. All 30 districts have completed such Meets within 14th January, 2011.

11. Formation of District Team of Trainers (DToT) on RTE:
Each District has formed its team of trainers (three trainers for each Block) who are gearing up to conduct Block level Sensitization Meets in all Blocks of the State. Representatives of local NGOs are also part of these DToTs for increased outreach and convergence at community level.

12. Capacity Building and re-orientation of S & ME Dept. Officials: Apart from the sensitization meets and workshops there are on-going capacity building activities on RTE for officials of the School and Mass Education Dept. On all platforms, meetings and workshops of the Department, the officials are being informed on the provisions of RCFCE Act, such as 45 teaching hours (including preparation), Pupil-Teacher Ratio, responsibilities of Teachers, minimum norms and standards of schools, etc.

13. Teachers’ awareness on RTE: Teachers are provided critical inputs and engaged in brainstorming on RTE at various platforms like trainings and the District level Sensitization Meets on RTE. Three day Teachers’ Training Module on RTE has been developed by TE & SCERT.

14. Inter-departmental Convergence:
For the effective implementation of the RCFCE Act, 2009, the School and Mass Education Dept. has initiated, in the month of December’10, the inter-departmental convergence process with the following six departments—
a. ST / SC Development Dept.
b. Dept. of Women & Child Development
c. Dept. of Health and Family Welfare
d. Dept. of Labor and Employment
e. Panchayati Raj Dept.
f. Dept. of Rural Development
These meetings resulted in mutually favorable points of convergence upon which joint action points have been finalized and gradually worked upon. Most recent in convergence is the Shiksha Chetna Abhiyan (State-wide awareness and community mobilization campaign on RTE and promotion of sanitation practices). The campaign was

15. Government-Civil Societies partnership:
A State Consultation on Govt. – 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. About 150 participants including representatives of 69 NGOs, academicians, media personnel, teachers, etc. representing all districts of the state had participated in this event. A district-wise list of NGOs has been drawn up for further involvement in the areas of community mobilization, SMC strengthening and awareness on RTE.

16. 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 preparedness for the provisions of RTE for the upcoming academic session.

17. Updating of Baseline Data: The formats for DISE & CTS have been modified in line with the requirement of the RCFCE Act, 2009. The data collection process is complete and the information is now available for use.

18. State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR):
The Govt. has notified for constitution of the SCPCR on 25th November, 2009 and the appointment of Chairperson has been made subsequently.

19. 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. (18003456722) for redressal of grievances related to school students and education in schools in the State. The Cell is actively engaged in hearing, enquiry, follow-up and redressal of cases from students, parents and teachers. So far a total no. of 870 Grievance Redressal Cases (as on 14th Jan’11) have been registered out of which 295 cases have been disposed off, while out of total registered 136 Grievance Redressal Forum cases 28 cases have been disposed off. All schools have displayed this number on their walls and the students and parents have benefitted from the prompt action taken on their calls. Case studies of remarkable experiences and of significant nature are being documented.

20. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) process:
Directorate of TE & SCERT has conducted two workshops on the development of CCE process, with inputs from individuals and officials across the State in participatory mode. The process modalities are currently being further defined.

21. Empowerment of PRIs through convergence with Panchayati Raj Dept.:
To increase the outreach of the awareness on RTE the S&ME Dept. in convergence with the Panchayati Raj Dept. has agreed upon leveraging on the platform of Gram Sabha. This will help in wide dissemination of information on provisions of the RCFCE Act, 2009 to the communities across all villages of the State. Special Gram Sabhas on RTE have been planned to be held in the  forthcoming months.

22. ‘Siksha Chetna Abhiyan’: A massive State-wide Campaign for ensuring children’s Right to Education and promoting sanitation and hygiene practices through community participation was undertaken between 15th and 21st April'11. Department of Rural Development, Dept. of SC & ST Development and UNICEF office for Orissa collaborated in this effort. Campaign activities like Pravesh Utsav (intensive enrolment drive), village meetings on RTE, Mother-Teacher Association Meetings, School Management Committee Meetings, ‘Education for All Rally’, parents’ counseling and Sankalp Divas (oath taking and resolve towards 100% enrolment and retention) are planned to be organized in more than 52,000 Govt. and Govt. aided schools across the State on pre-defined dates in the month of April (i.e.15th to 21st April’11). The immediate outcome of the campaign was a whopping 5 lakh new enrolments during the campaign across the State. This is according to the preliminary data received during the campaign. The final figures shall be posted shortly.
The RTE Cell provided technical support, and facilitated implementation and monitoring.
Mass media campaign (print, television and radio) for wider awareness was also done.

23. ‘Ama Vidyalay’: A drive for beautification of school environment across the State with support from UNICEF has been rolled out. This is meant to improve the school environment and aid learning progress of children significantly, by using several elements of child-friendly activity-based learning in the school building, walls and spaces. The plan has been approved by Hon’ble Chief Minister for implementation and has been shared with senior officers, district level officials from S&ME Dept., Dept. of RD and SC&ST Development Dept. on the 9th of March’11 as well. The process for implementation of the plan has been initiated at school level and the progress is being closely monitored.

1.       Ongoing Programmes:

a.       Samarthya: It is the integrated training plan for in service teachers of Orissa for the year 2010-11. The training would be done in two levels; 1) Elementary level and 2) Secondary level. The elementary level training will comprise of both content based and theme based (National Curriculum Framework and Right to Education and Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation); for 10 days each. These trainings would be conducted by Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan. The secondary level training would be for 5 days which would be only content based. Separate trainings would be organised at both levels. One teacher from each Govt school would participate in the training including teachers from ST & SC Department. Pedagogy Coordinators would be responsible for elementary teacher’s training at district level. The Science Supervisors would be responsible for secondary teachers’ training at district level. So far more than 7000 teachers have been trained in the 1st phase of this programme.

b.      Sahajog: This is the series of trainings and orientation programmes organized towards capacity building of School Management Committees and community mobilization. So far about 1,900 teachers, retired teachers and Block level officers have been trained as Block Resource Group and the next phase will train more than 19,000 participants across the State as the Cluster Resource Group, who will in turn conduct orientation of SMC members and members of local authority. The intervention is expected to catalyze the involvement of the SMC towards preparation of school development plan and monitoring of the various interventions at school level.