The Delhi government came to power with a people focused reform agenda of which public school system is a big part. It has appointed 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries to assist respective Ministers in handling crucial challenges of governance in respective fields. Praveen Kumar, the MLA from Jangpura, has been appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Minister. He spoke to Governance Today on how the Delhi government is taking steps to brace up the education system in the national capital.

Edited excerpts:

Praveen Kumar, MLA, Jangpura, Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Minister

What steps have been taken to brace up education system in Delhi?

One of the works mentioned in the Delhi Government’s manifesto was construction of as many as 500 government schools. Basically, two things are required, one is that there should be enough government schools and second, there should be quality in these schools.

The manifesto decision is indeed a good thing for our country’s educational scenario but the infrastructure is not enough. There needs to be quality with quantity.

We are striving continuously towards improving the quality of education. One of the many steps taken in this regard is setting up of 52 model schools where better education is provided and where special attention is being given to improving children’s holistic development.

Is there anything new that is being done to add to the education quality?

Another step that has been taken is provisioning of extra classes. We have started extra classes in vacations for students of class IX. This has been done with an idea to help these students do well in their board examination, considered essential for future studies.

Instructions have been given to the schools to arrange for extra classes for 15 days a month for the weak students across all classes. All government schools are striving to help the kids get better at subjects they find difficult; clear doubts; and make them ready to perform better in their examinations.

This apart, the teachers are also trying to help students develop interest in studies as there are some students who tend to divert and thus get into the league of drop-outs.

There has been a lot of hue and cry about high fee of private schools. What is being done in this regard?

Yes, I accept that there are many schools, especially private schools, which tend to increase their fee as per their whims and fancies. So, in order to check such random increments in the fee structure the Delhi government had ordered audit of balance sheets of all schools.

This apart a committee has also been made to check and take action against schools that increase their fee without adhering to the set education norms. This was an independent committee and if any schools increased the fee without any genuine reason, the parents of the children studying in that particular school, can complaint against that school to the committee. Following complaint, the committee can order a probe under the education directorate and a special judge.

The role of the government in case of private schools is expected to get enhanced. Till date the government’s role in case of private schools was limited up to providing recognition or cancelling their license in case of any misconduct. However, if our regulation gets the Centre’s nod, government will be able to tighten the noose over private schools and these issues of random increase in the fee and other profit-driven decisions can be checked.

Of late, vocational programs have gained prominence among the youth. How is the government planning to contribute to it?

Yes, the vocational programs are indeed very important. To understand the needs of the youths better, we had conducted a survey recently. The survey aimed at finding out what do the students tend to do after their Plus Two examinations.

As per the findings of the survey, 75 per cent of the students, especially of government schools, do not go for further studies. They choose to take up some job suiting their skills. They just have their basic educational qualifications to start with and therefore they are not professionally and practically competent. They learn on the job, thus affecting the remuneration that is in most cases on the lower side.

To take care of this loss to the children, we have stated that, in all the government schools, children would be imparted ‘skill education.’ This has been done for the students of class IX to XII. These students will be provided training in certain specific skills, be it retail marketing, tailoring and other such skills. This is an attempt to make them market ready and help them bag better remuneration and a better life.

Are steps being taken to help industries recognize vocational skills of students?

The government has decided on bringing in a policy of two separate certificates for the students. As per the provisions of the policy, all the students of the passing batch will be awarded two certificates – one for his/ her academic performance and another for skills.

The idea behind it is that if a student is good at painting, tailoring, physical training or any other skill and is weak at studies, he or she can have a better job on the basis of the skill certificate as each individual may not necessarily be good at academics. This will improve their standard of life.

There has been a wide gap between demand and supply of colleges in Delhi. What steps are being taken to fill this gap?

There has always been a scarcity of colleges at the state level especially in Delhi. The government at present is looking not only on the number of colleges but also focusing on improving the quality of education provided in these colleges.

To take care of the scarcity in the number of colleges, the government has decided to double-shift the colleges. As per this decision, there would be teaching in two shifts which will help teach an additional crowd of 10,000 students without actually increasing the number of colleges.