The Sustainable Development Goals report, 2021 (SDG) states COVID-19 has washed away 20 years of education gains. It calls for extraordinary efforts to fill the learning deficit, such as sanitation facilities for safety of children at school, well-ventilated and spacious classrooms, and a solid ICT infrastructure to enable remote learning. In this backdrop, we saw in the first two parts of my Digital Equalizer Exposure Trip series, how AIF and the state government schools are together working to achieve SDG 04, ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. In this final installment, we will find more about the efforts of the Odisha state government and compare those best practices with Delhi government schools. The methodology used includes literature review, survey method and field observations.
Best Pratices in Government Schools in Ganjam and Delhi
The Right to Education Act, 2009, mandates free and fair education to all the children aged between 6 and 14. Ganjam is the only Block where the school transformation curriculum is implemented under the state government’s 5T Vision: Transparency, Technology, Team Work, Time and Transformation. The parameters for school transformation include: E-Library, laboratory, toilet, drinking water, playground and plantation. For zero period, innovative initiatives are introduced for children such as DEAR: Drop Everything And Read, Focus Monitoring, Logical thinking, and my favourite, ‘No Bag Day’.
I noticed the culture of wall paintings seen across Odisha, visible in Ganjam schools as well. The bright and colourful illustrations on walls with social messages. The Nutrition Garden blossoming with vegetables, fruits and herbs. I loved the ‘water bell’ initiative which reinforces how important hydration is. The government schools in Ganjam are effectively giving a glimpse of world to students while remaining rooted in their local context. Visiting these schools made me nostalgic about my school days.
The ‘Education Model of Delhi’ is known for the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ that imparted values like empathy in children, English speaking, focus on high quality infrastructure, CCTV camera. Comparatively, the Delhi government schools have larger area, more number of students and resources (Economic Survey of Delhi, 2021).
Analysis of the Comparative Study
As per Census 2011, the literacy rate of Odisha and Delhi was 72.9 per cent and 86.20 per cent respectively. For the year 2021-22, Odisha allocated an impressive 25.2 per cent of its total expenditure whereas Odisha committed 14.6 per cent (PRS, 2021). Considerably, Odisha faces challenges like a diverse population including a high population of scheduled tribes, geographically terrain, lack of resources. They have excellent programmes like ‘Mo School Abhiyan’ in secondary schools promoting alumni contribution.
While in Ganjam I found the teachers closely engage with students like sitting on the floor with them during group activities, the hierarchical division between Principal and teachers also appears to be less rigid and more like a family, which ensures a supportive environment for everyone. A shining example of commitment of teachers towards students is National Award Winning teacher and Acting Head from GUPS Kanamana, Mr. Ajit Kumar Sethy. I was amazed to learn from him during my visit to DE site GUPS Kanamana, that he conceptualizes, directs, gives music, acts and sings out textbook lessons in local language, Odia for students making learning interesting. He has also contributed audio-video lessons on state government’s e-learning mobile application. Please do have a look at his YouTube channel, ‘Anwesha Music’ where he uploads lessons and inspirational songs for students of Odisha.
The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP, 2020) enlists ‘Online and Digital Education: Ensuring Equitable Use of Technology’ as a focus area which Digital Equalizer programme is achieving in partnership with schools.
Delhi schools can try the innovative best practices in oneness with nature and simple acts like no-bag and water-bell for long term wellness of students. Given the rise in online learning during lockdown, like Delhi, the Odisha government schools may also add a component of ‘awareness of cyber safety’ for students through cartoon handbooks like the ‘Cartoon Handbook for Children‘ by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). In terms of ‘Comprehensive Sexuality Education’, both states need to facilitate common discussions among students of all genders to normalize menstruation, sex, sexually transmitted diseases and use of contraceptives. The teachers can use free resources (cartoon booklet and video) from Menstrupedia available in many Indian and international languages including Odia, Telugu and Spanish. There should be awareness generation of eco-friendly period products like the menstrual cup as well. This can be aligned with the Adolescent Health Programme run by state health departments.
Both states are working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 04 of 2030 Agenda. Additionally, with active operation of Digital Equalizer, the states can implement recommendations of the New Education Policy such as STEM promotion, on an accelerated mode.
Planning Department Government of NCT of Delhi. Economic Survey of Delhi 2020-21. 2021, http://delhiplanning.nic.in/sites/default/files/15.%20Education.pdf.
Odisha Economic Survey 2020-21. Planning and Convergence Department Government of Odisha, 2021, http://www.desorissa.nic.in/pdf/Odisha%20Economic%20Survey%202020-21-1.pdf.
“Delhi Budget Analysis 2021-22.” PRS Legislative Research, https://prsindia.org/budgets/states/delhi-budget-analysis-2021-22
“Odisha Budget Analysis 2020-21.” PRS Legislative Research, https://prsindia.org/budgets/states/odisha-budget-analysis-2020-21
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing . “Cartoon Handbook for Children: Tales on Cyber Security for Children.” Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA), https://infosecawareness.in/handbooks?category=Children-Handbooks.
“Menstrupedia Comic.” Friendly Guide to Healthy Periods, https://www.menstrupedia.com/comic/english.
Anwesha Music. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC28mbHq-D-zZOfbRBy0wmTQ.