Schools in Nagaland not functioning optimally, says Advisor of School Education
Kohima, Oct. 12 (EMN): Education in Nagaland faces numerous challenges at present and schools are yet to function optimally, said Advisor of School Education K T Sukhalu on Tuesday.
He was addressing the state-level orientation and sensitisation programme on National Education Policy (NEP) in Kohima, organised by Nagaland Education Project- The Lighthouse (NECTAR), department of School Education.
Sukhalu informed that public school education in Nagaland consists of about 2,000 government schools catering to around 1,50,000 students.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the state was in a learning crisis with low enrolment and low learning outcomes at all levels; large inter-district disparity in achievements, and low service delivery capability at the state and sub-state levels, he added.
As per GoI’s Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2016-17 data for elementary schooling, Nagaland is among the bottom five states in India in net enrolment rate (NER) (75.63 percent vs 85.89 percent for India), retention rate (45.5 percent vs 70.6 percent for India), and rates of transition from elementary to secondary education (79 percent vs 88.5 percent for India).
Nagaland has the second highest dropout rates at primary and upper-primary levels. The situation further deteriorates at the secondary and higher secondary stages.
At the secondary level, Nagaland ranks second at the bottom among states in India on NER and third at the bottom in retention rate. At the higher secondary level, the NER drops to an abysmal 19.62 percent, compared to 30.95 percent national average (UDISE 2016-17).
The National Achievement Survey (NAS) 10 data on student learning outcomes for Grades 3, 5, 8, and 10, and the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) examinations data for Grades 10 and 12 reveal generally low levels of learning among government school students in the state, particularly in the areas of math and science, with large inter-district variations. The state also performs poorly on the annual status of education report (ASER) test of basic reading and arithmetic skills, indicating a lack of foundational learning and persistent learning gaps. Poor enrolment, retention, and transition, and high dropout rates are due, in part, to a limited number of composite schools (covering pre-primary to higher secondary grades) with affordable student housing; poorly equipped schools (including a widespread lack of libraries, science labs, and equipment); the lack of systematic efforts to map and attract out-of-school children; and parental concerns about the quality of teaching (especially in government schools), it was informed.
Additionally, many government schools are in rural areas where students are more likely to be first-generation learners with limited home support for learning.
Private schools shine
Private schools in Nagaland constitute a significant and growing share of the education system, with 717 private schools enrolling about 2,20,000 students. Pass rates in the NBSE examinations (Grades 10 and 12) are significantly better in private schools than in government schools.
It becomes pertinent to locate the relevance of NEP- The Lighthouse NECTAR against this backdrop of challenging conditions facing the education system of Nagaland.
Relevance of NEP- The Lighthouse (NECTAR) for Nagaland
According to pre-pandemic estimates, Nagaland is at the bottom of various development indices and rankings. Its index of fiscal self-reliance is far below the national average. As per data and consultations held with the state government, the public school system is also characterised by systemic weaknesses in teaching quality and teacher workforce management, including a lack of reliable data on teachers, especially their classroom presence and performance.
It is in this area that the World Bank funded NEP- The Lighthouse NECTAR holds immense relevance to the education system in Nagaland as it aims to enhance the governance of schools across the state and improve teaching practices and learning environments in selected school complexes.
Progress towards achieving the PDO will be measured using various well-defined results indicators. The project aims to develop a comprehensive, sustainable reform program that can guide efforts at two levels: system-wide reforms that improve overall governance of schools in the state, and school focused reforms that directly improve school-level teaching practices and learning environments.
The way forward
The success of the project depends predominantly on the collaborative efforts of all the entities and stakeholders that have various roles and responsibilities albeit in varying degrees. In all phases of the life of the project, handholding amongst all the stakeholders ranks high in priority.
The Project Steering Committee is the apex body which provides oversight, guidance and authorisation for the efficient implementation of the project. The project is led and managed by four constituent agencies. While the leading agency – DSE, will be responsible to implement respective components and sub-components, other agencies will also support and collaborate to achieve the desired results.
The project implementation at the state level is led in implementation by the department of School Education and managed by four constituent agencies of the DSE, namely DoSE, SCERT, NBSE and the SSM which will collaborate with each other as well as with relevant departments of the government, NGOs and CSOs working in the region on similar focus areas. The project management unit will work closely with these agencies and undertake charge for overall implementation, supervision, and monitoring of the project intervention, along with the project management consultant (PMC). All these entities and the stakeholders in general hold importance for not only the success of the project but for ushering in invigorating change in our society.
“A transformation and overhaul in education would mean better quality education and improvement in human capital. And therefore, this project holds value and promise to transforming not only the education system but also impacting the lives beyond the classroom and sowing the seeds of much needed transformation of our society,” it was informed.
The first panelist for the session was Shanavas C, Principal Director of School Education and Project Director Nagaland Education Project- The Lighthouse (NECTAR) who presented on the NECTAR Project.
He presented on the aims to re-orient the education system in the state, piloting several innovations in teacher management, community accountability and improving classroom transactions.
He also shared on the project components and various sub-components like improving system and school management, enhancing the teaching and learning environment, and technical assistance.
Second panellist Visato Koso, Project Coordinator of NEP-The Lighthouse (NECTAR), shared on the importance of social sustainability and various standards of the environment social management framework (ESMF) tool to guide and promote environmental and social performance at every stage of the project and the government’s role to mitigate risks.
He also stressed on the importance of gender equity, inclusion of vulnerable groups, stakeholders engagement plan, land management, labour management, capacity building and grievance redressal mechanism to record and facilitate resolution of concerns and grievances to empower the community by providing the platform for feedbacks and suggestions for improvement of the project.
Panellist Avelu Ruho, Deputy Project Director of NEP- The Lighthouse (Nectar), shed light on the completed and ongoing activities since the project inception which includes various stakeholders engagement activities and selection and procurement of agencies. The panellists also replied to the queries raised by the participants at the event.