UNICEF report shows results of integrated schools in Rajasthan

JAIPUR,MOHAMMED IQBAL: The success of the newly-introduced transformative education programme, which has led to the establishment of an integrated school and an elementary one in each village panchayat of Rajasthan, was highlighted in the ‘State of the World’s Children’ report for 2016 released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) here earlier this week.

The preliminary results of the schools are encouraging, with a six per cent increase registered in enrolment in comparison with the last year. Moreover, vacancies for teachers have reduced from 60 per cent to 33 per cent in the same period.

The two categories of schools, promoted by the State government’s Education Department, are Adarsh Vidyalayas for classes I to XII and Utkrishta Vidyalayas for classes I to VIII. The existing senior secondary and middle schools have also been converted into schools under the new category.

Encouraging results
UNICEF education specialist Jitendra Sharma told The Hindu on Thursday that the U.N. body was helping the Adarsh Vidyalayas with the programme management for rationalisation of teachers and curriculum. The support extended to individual officers of the Education Department has led to encouraging results, he said.

For the primary sections of Adarsh and Utkrishta Vidyalayas, the UNICEF has rendered assistance with child-centred pedagogy, along with continuous and comprehensive evaluation, providing an opportunity to children to learn in a participative manner that has enhanced their learning outcomes, said Mr. Sharma.

An agency, Bodh, has been engaged to look after the technical aspects of pedagogy, while the UNICEF has supplied the study material required in schools. The Utkrishta Vidyalayas have been opened in the revenue villages other than the panchayat headquarters, ensuring the presence of two quality education hubs in each village panchayat.

Removing inequality
Launching the report, Minister of State for Education Vasudeo Devnani laid emphasis on the State government’s initiative for quality education and said the improvement in the quality of government schools would help remove inequality among children caused by differences in the financial status of their parents.

Children from Jaipur, Dungarpur and other districts, who attended the ceremony, spoke about the vacancies of teachers in their schools, computers not being supplied despite previous announcements and classes not being held regularly.

Noted economist and former member of the Rajasthan State Planning Board, Prof. Vijay Shankar Vyas, State School Education Secretary Naresh Gangwar and UNICEF State head Samuel Mawunganidze were among those present.

The focus of the UNICEF’s annual flagship report was on “equity in education” in the context of the U.N. body’s advocacy campaign on equity. The report also pointed to evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children could yield both immediate and long-term benefits.