By Ananya Singh
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the Tamil Nadu state government have united to initiate a reform of the school education system. A joint task force has been set up for the same, which will work in tandem with CII member companies. For the next five years, the force has been charged with the responsibility of identifying government schools that require state attention and increased efforts for improvement.
Corporate houses will assist the state education department in this endeavour, while Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) will work on-ground to revamp existing infrastructure and quality of education.
Companies to participate in educational development
“A lot needs to be done regarding our education system—it is still colonial,” announced P. Ravichandran, chairman of the CII Tamil Nadu State Council. The groundwork for the task force was laid during the CII Coimbatore meeting held in December 2017. The first meeting of the joint task force was held on 31 January 2018.
The joint task force will be headed by School Education Department’s principal secretary and chaired by co-chairman of CII Tamil Nadu State Council. The funds for revamping government schools in the state will be a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of CII member companies. The task force will further work with NGOs to allow for a streamlined flow of ideas.
The tie-up of the state government with the corporate world for inducing a systematised metamorphosis of the floundering education system is a welcome move. It will allow the corporate entities to participate in improving and completely changing the face of school education in the country, thereby producing an improvement in learning outcomes.
At present, there exist no guidelines that allow corporate players to pump in funds or experience in supporting the country’s education system. As such, the task force’s primary concern is to release a final set of guidelines that will allow the industry to participate freely in revamping the state’s school education system.
Working of the joint task force
According to School Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, the government’s budget allocation each year for education is approximately ₹30,000 crore. However, 60 percent of this budget is used to pay salaries. As such, improvement of schools in terms of infrastructure and technological developments receives the bare minimum. Basic amenities such as drinking water, construction of toilets are left incomplete due to a shortage of funds. “We need to upgrade the infrastructure in schools to retain students, especially girls, who face adverse health problems,” said Mr Sengottaiyan.
The Tamil Nadu state government will shortlist 7,000 schools requiring greater governmental attention across the state. The list will be handed over to the CII, and companies can then decide the schools they would like to work with within their districts.
According to the proposed plan, the upgrading of schools and their functioning will be left to the discretion of companies funding the schools and the NGOs working with them. The government will not interfere in this process, however, a supervisory committee will be set up to monitor the state of development.
Infrastructure, innovation and experience
Palaniswamy, the vice-chairman of the CII Tamil Nadu State Council said the aim of the task force will be to focus on reducing dropout rates in schools.
While infrastructural development is a priority for the proposed plan, other areas to be targeted include “teacher development” and facilitating an innovative culture of learning. Companies will adopt schools in their districts, and improve the infrastructure and quality of education imparted in these.
The CII aims to transform the syllabus to include experiential learning for school students. The state education department had earlier formulated an agreement with SRM University to construct 20 smart classrooms, costing ₹40 lakh.
Growing rates of unemployment in India have shifted the government’s focus toward vocational training that will equip students with various skills, improving their job prospects. Skill-training is going to be another focus of CII-aided schools. One such skill-based educational centre has already been established in Guindy, according to Mr Palaniswamy.
No budget constraints
The program will be rolled out in a phased manner. There is no specific budget for the developmental scheme as the companies part of CII will be funding the project. As such, costs will be relegated to the background and instead focus will be laid on imparting quality education. The contribution of companies will be duly recognised through plaques put up in schools.
The induction of CII into the process of improving the state of school education will prove beneficial. CII currently comprises 1300 member companies, including large firms with high annual turnover, that are willing to adopt schools in their areas and sponsor their qualitative improvement under the ambit of their CSR activities.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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