The term ‘Govt Sponsored School’ is no longer an unfamiliar one. It has been in our talks much since the School Education Department of West Bengal raised an option through the notification no. 491-SL/5S-264/12 dt. 20/03/2013 for conversion of all willing Recognised Non-Govt aided Secondary Schools into Recognised Govt Sponsored Secondary Schools for giving coverage of RMSA project and other schemes of the Govt of India. Most schools exercised the option and were entitled as Govt sponsored ones. But the real procedure of transforming management and giving facilities from RMSA for development is yet to gain speed. Let us analyse if the Govt Sponsored School is fit to the need of the time. Getting a clear overview on the composition, function and prospect of such school in the light of the above mentioned Rule is very necessary. Every such school shall have a Committee to be constituted in the manner and for the purposes hereinafter appearing.
Composition of the Committee
The Committee shall consist of the Following members:-
(i) a President to be appointed by the Department of School Education of the State Government;
(ii) two representatives of the Body/Organisation/Society aiding or co-operating with the State Government in setting up the Institution;
(iii) one Government official to be nominated by the Director of School Education, West Bengal;
(iv) two persons interested in education to be nominated by the Director of School Education, West Bengal;
(v) one medical practitioner to be nominated by the Director of School Education, West Bengal;
(vi) the Head of the Institution concerned;
(vii) three representatives of the teachers of the Institution to be elected in the manner prescribed in rule 6;
(viii) two representatives of guardian of whom one shall be a woman in the case of a girls’ school, to be nominated by the President in the manner prescribed in rule 7;
(ix) one representative of the whole-time non-teaching staff of the. Institution to be elected in the same manner and according to the same procedure as laid down in the management of Recognised non-Government Institutions (Aided and Unaided) Rules, 1969.
Provided that the State Government shall have the power to approve of a special constitution of a Committee in respect of schools sponsored by Trusts or religious or linguistic minority.
The representatives of the teachers shall be elected to the Committee in the same manner and according to the same procedure as laid down in the management of the Recognised Non-Govt. Institutions (Aided and Unaided) Rules, 1969.
Nomination of guardians’ representatives
As soon as the members referred to in items (i) to (x) of rule 5 are appointed, nominated, or elected, as the case may be, the President of the Committee shall, in consultation with the Head of the Institution, nominate two representatives of the guardians referred to in items (xi) and (xii) of the said rule. In case of difference of opinion between the President of the Committee and the Head of the Institution, the matter shall be referred to the Director whose decision thereon shall be final.
There shall be a secretary of the committee who shall be appointed by the Director of School Education, West Bengal from amongst the members of the Committee other than those referred to in clauses (i), (ix) and (x) of rule 5. Where any member other than the Head of the Institution is appointed as Secretary, the Head of the Institution shall be appointed as Joint Secretary.
Casual vacancies, except the vacancies in the office of the teacher-member, shall be filled up by nomination or appointment, as the case may be, by the authorities competent to fill the vacancy in the original committee. Any casual vacancy in the office of the teacher-member shall be filled by election in the manner laid down in rule 6. If any member of the Committee ceases at any time to fulfil the qualifications in respect of which he was elected or nominated, he shall cease to be a member and, a vacancy shall be created which shall be filled by appointments, nomination or election as the case may be. Any member appointed, nominated or elected to fill the casual vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired portion of the term of office of the member whose place he fills.
The term of the Committee
The term of the office of the Committee shall be 3 years from the date of the first meeting of the Committee, provided that such term may be extended by the State Government:
Provided that the representatives of the guardians referred to in items (xi) and (xii) of rule 5 shall hold office for a period of one year only.
Vacancy caused by absence
Any member of the Committee absenting himself from four consecutive meetings shall cease to be such member unless the Committee otherwise directs. The vacancy shall be filled up as provided in rule 9.
Meeting and quorum
A meeting of the Committee shall be called by the Secretary at least once in every two months except during the vacation of the Institution. Not less than 7 days’ notice of the meeting shall ordinarily be given. Seven members shall form a quorum.
The Director shall annually appoint, from the panel maintained by him, an Auditor who shall examine the accounts of the Institution for the year and submit his report to the Committee, on or before 31st day of March; and two copies of such report shall be forwarded to the Director who shall send one copy to the State Government. The Director may call for explanation of the Committee on the irregularities pointed out in the audit report and the Committee shall submit to the Director within six weeks of receipt of the communication its explanation indicating the action taken or proposed to be taken on the irregularities. If the explanation is not considered satisfactory, the Director may move the State Government for supersession of the Committee.
A special meeting shall be convened by the Secretary within a fortnight when a requisition for such a meeting is made by not less than four members of the Committee, not less than seven days’ notice of such meeting shall be given.
Special meeting convened by requisition
If the Secretary fails to convene a special meeting, the requisitionists shall refer the matter to the President who shall convene the meeting. In the event of the President failing to convene the meeting within ten days after reference to him, the requisitionists not being less than one-half of the total number of members, shall have power to convene the meeting after giving seven days’ notice.
Emergency meeting may be convened by the President, if necessary, with not less than twenty-four hours’ notice to consider a matter of emergent nature requiring immediate attention. All resolutions passed at an emergency meeting shall be subject to confirmation or revision at the next ordinary meeting.
Place of meeting
All meetings shall be held in the premises of the Institution, unless the members of the Committee decide unanimously to the contrary.
The notice of each meeting shall set forth the business to be transacted at the meeting the agenda being drawn up by the Secretary of the Committee in consultation with President of the Committee and, except with the consent of three-fourths of the members present, no business other than that so stated shall be transacted, provided that no matter involving the appointment or deputation or dismissal or removal of a teacher or other employee shall be taken up unless the matter has been placed on the agenda of the meeting issued with the notice, and evidence of service of such notice is maintained and preserved for inspection by any member of the Committee or any person authorised by the Board or Director of the Education Department of the State Government.
President to preside
The President shall preside at meeting of the Committee. In the absence of the President, the members present shall elect one amongst themselves who shall preside.
The person presiding at the meeting shall have a casting vote in addition to his ordinary vote when votes of the members present are equally divided.
The Auditor’s report on the accounts of the Institution shall be taken into consideration at the first ordinary meeting after the report has been received. A, copy of the report, along with the observations of the Committee shall, thereafter, be sent to the Board and the Director who may call for additional information or explanation in the matter as laid down in rule 13.
Duties of the Secretary
Under the direction of the Committee the Secretary shall carry out correspondence with the proper authorities on behalf of the Committee. He shall also keep a record of the proceedings of the meetings of the committee in a book maintained for the purpose. The record of each meeting shall be confirmed at the subsequent such meeting.
Powers of the Committee
Subject to approval of the Director and subject to further such direction as the State Government may from time to tune issue, the Committee shall have the powers to
(i) appoint teachers and other employees on permanent and temporary-basis;
(ii) extend the services of teachers and other employees beyond the dates of superannuation;
(iii) remove or dismiss teachers and other employees after offering such teachers and employees concerned reasonable opportunity of representing their cases;
(iv) grant leave other than casual leave which shall be granted by the Head of the Institution and by the President of the Committee in the case of the Head of the institution, and increments of pay to teachers and other employees, according to the rules in force;
(v) grant free studentship or half-free studentship in accordance with the procedure laid down from time to time, but ordinarily with the consent of the Head of the Institution;
(vi) manage funds of the Institution ;
(vii) frame annual reports;
(viii) deal with all schemes of development of the Institution and allied matters;
(ix) allocate the total period of holidays in a year, but special holiday for a day or a part thereof on account of death of any prominent person or for any special occasion concerning the Institution may be granted by the Head of the Institution at his discretion;
(x) grant deputation of teachers, where such deputation is in the interest of the Institution in conformity with rules and order on the subject;
Provided that a teacher affected by the decision of the Committee may make his representation to the Director;
(xi) deal with other matters that arc brought to the Committee in the interest of the Institution;
(xii) impose minor penalties, like stoppage of one to three increments in pay, reduction of pay in the time scale and ensure, with the prior approval of the Board in case of lapses on the part of permanent or temporary teachers and other employees of an Institution which do not warrant removal or dismissal of the persons concerned. In all such cases the committee shall observe the procedure laid down in sub rule (8) of rule 28 in the Management of Recognised Non-Government Institutions (Aided and unaided) Rules, 1969.
Suspension for Preventive Detention
In the case of teaching and non-teaching staff of an institution detained in custody for a period exceeding 48 hours any law providing for preventive detention or as a result of a proceeding for a preventive detention either on a criminal charge or otherwise, such staff shall be deemed to have been suspended by an order of the appointing authority, with effect from the date of detention and shall remain under suspension until further orders.
A teaching or non-teaching staff who is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment shall also be dealt with in the same manner, pending a decision on the disciplinary action to be taken against him.
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, the Institutions sponsored in cooperation with the Ramakrishna Mission shall be managed until other Provisions are made in accordance with the Special Rules for the management of Ramakrishna Mission Schools.
If, on consideration of a report by the Director, the State Government is of the opinion that the Committee for the management of any Sponsored Institution has not been functioning properly, it may supersede such Committee and appoint an Administrator or an Ad-hoc Committee to exercise the powers and perform the functions thereof.
The Committee of each institution shall constitute a Staff Council composed of all whole-time teaching and non-teaching staff, permanent and temporary, working against sanctioned posts or sanctioned additional posts for not less than two years, with the Head of the Institutions as its President. The Secretary of the Council shall be elected from amongst its members. The Council may discuss all matters of academic interest and other problems relating to the development of the institution and may recommend to the Committee, measures for improvement of the institution. The Committee shall record the action taken on the recommendation indicating reasons in the case of its non-implementation. The Head of the Institution shall convene the meeting of the Staff Council once in every three months in an academic year.
(1) The Committee of each Institution shall constitute an Academic Council composed of the Head of the Institution, the Assistant Headmaster or Assistant Headmistress, if there be any, as the case may be, and not more than 3 members elected from amongst the members of the teaching staff including the Librarian and the Assistant Librarian where there is one, working against sanctioned posts or sanctioned additional posts for not less than two years.
The Head of the Institution and the Assistant Headmaster or the Assistant Headmistress, as the case may be. shall be the President and the Secretary of the Council respectively. Where there is no Assistant Headmaster or Assistant Headmistress, one from amongst the elected members shall be elected Secretary of the Academic Council. In case of any casual vacancy, it shall be filled up by election at a meeting convened for the purpose. The Head of the institution shall preside over the meeting.
In case of an Institution with Higher Secondary Classes (Class XI and XII) recognised by the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, the total number of members of the Academic Council including the President and the Secretary shall, in no case, exceed 5.
(2) The Head of the Institution shall convene a meeting within one month from the first meeting of the newly constituted or reconstituted Managing Committee and the teacher members including Librarian. Assistant Librarian, if any. of the Academic Council shall be elected in that meeting. Where there is an Ab-hoc Committee or an Administrator, the Academic Council shall be constituted as per Provisions of this rule as and when directed by the Executive Committee and shall continue to function for the period determined by the Executive Committee from time to time. The Head of the Institution shall convene the meeting of the Academic Council once in every two months in an academic year.
(3) The Council may discuss matters connected with (i) admission, (ii) promotion, (iii) selection of books, (iv) time table of School hours and (v) measures relating to the improvement of teaching and co-curricular activities. The Head of the Institution shall, ordinarily, be guided by the advice of the Council in matters specified above. But the Head of the Institution may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, overrule the advice of the Council, in which case any member of the Council who may be in disagreement with the decision taken by the Head of the Institution, may refer the matter to the Committee whose decision thereon shall be final. Selection of books shall be made in counsultation with the subject teachers of the institution. In selecting books, schools should exercise the greatest care and a book, once prescribed, shall be allowed to continue at least for 3 years, unless there are compelling reasons for a change.
Meeting with guardians
The Head of the Institution shall convene meeting were guardians twice in an academic year. The Head of the Institution shall convene meeting class-wise with subject-teachers and guardians twice in an academic year without hampering the studies of the pupils. In every Institution, “Guardians’ Week” shall be observed once in a year.
Number of days instructional work
(1) The total number of days including Saturdays which will be half-holidays, available for instructional work of an educational institution shall not fall below 200 days in an academic year. The days on which class-examinations and other school activities are held shall not be included within the period of 200 days earmarked for instructional work of the institution.
(2) Classes will not be kept suspended in the school on account of holding examination, other than the examination conducted by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education.
(3) No classes shall be kept suspended in the school for giving free time to the student to prepare for their annual examination or for any other school activities.
Holding of classes on regular basis etc.
All teachers shall regularly take classes allotted to them in the time-table and complete the prescribed syllabus within the stipulated period of the academic year. To monitor and maintain the prescribed rate of progress of the students in their course of studies, teachers should go by the announced programme of periodical examinations of the school, to setup question papers, perform invigilation duty in the examination halls, and take up evaluation of answer-scripts and recording of marks, writing of progress reports, publication of results thereof in time, and submission of the progress reports to the Head of the institutions for transmission of the same to the guardians for their knowledge, signature and comments, if any. Schools shall also so arrange that the students can take home the examined answer-scripts of all the periodical examinations, and except annual examination for perusal of their guardians for knowledge in respect of attainments of their wards on condition that they return the scripts with the signature of the guardians to their schools seven days from the date of receiving of the scripts from the school.
Invigilation duties etc. performed by teachers
Invigilation duties and evaluation answer-scripts in examinations conducted by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education shall fall within the bounden duties and functions of a teacher in a Secondary School and Higher Secondary School and the non-teaching staff shall perform other duties as may be allotted to them.
Govt Sponsored School with all its function is a challenge in the crisis of the Indian education system. Though the enrolment in the 6-4 age group continues to be very high, the learning outcome is very poor. According to the ninth Annual States Status of Education Report (ASER 2013), the proportion of all children in Class 5 who can read a Class 2 level text decreased each year from 2009 to 2012, dropping from 52.8% in 2009 to 46.9% in 2012, and remains virtually the same in 2013 at 47%. There is another disturbing trend; that of the widening gap between government and private schools. In government schools, among Class five children enrolled in government schools, the percentage of children able to read Class two level texts decreased from 50.3% (2009) to 43.8% (2011) to 41.1% (2013). In 2010, 33.2% children of Class 3 in government schools could at least do subtraction, as compared to 47.8% in private schools. In 2013, 18.9% of Class 3 students in government schools were able to do basic subtraction or more, as compared to 44.6% of Class 3 children in private schools. The two major issues needed to be tackled urgently are the dramatic shift to private school enrolment in rural areas and a crisis of learning. According to the report, there are serious implications for India’s equity and growth if basic learning outcomes do not improve soon.
Need to move towards digitalization of education
To improve it in Govt Sponsored Schools, there is a need to move towards digitalization of education. The typical Indian classroom was once characterized by students sitting through hour-long teacher monologues. Now, technology is making life easier for both students and educators. Schools are increasingly adopting digital teaching solutions to engage with the new generation of pupils and trying to make the classroom environment more inclusive and participatory.
Smartclass from Educomp Solutions is one of the first Indian companies in this space. Smartclass is essentially a digital content library of curriculum-mapped, multimedia-rich, 3D content. It also enables teachers to quickly assess how much of a particular lesson students have been able to assimilate during the class. Once a topic is covered, the teacher gives the class a set of questions on a large screen. Each student then answers via a personal answering device or the smart assessment system. The teacher gets the scores right away and based on that, she repeats parts of the lesson that the students don’t appear to have grasped.
Technology makes the teaching-learning process very easy and interesting. For instance, it takes a teacher one full lecture to just draw an electromagnetic cell on the blackboard. Though he can explain the cell structure, there is no way he can manage to show them how it really functions. This is where technology comes to our aid — now he can show the students a 3D model of the cell and how it functions. Instead of wasting precious time drawing the diagram on the blackboard, he can invest it in building the conceptual clarity of his students. More than 12,000 schools across 560 districts in India have adopted Smartclass. More importantly, the number is growing at almost 20 schools a day. On average, in each of these schools eight classrooms are using Smartclass. A digital classroom is set to become the bare-minimum teaching accessory in schools, just like a blackboard is today.
Ways to overcome the price front
One major roadblock for Educomp’s proposition in the early days was on the price front. Schools found the product very expensive. To get over this hurdle, Educomp quickly decided to make the initial investment and gave the schools an option to pay over a period of three to five years. The strategy worked. Enthused by the market response, in January Educomp launched an upgraded version — the Smartclass Class Transformation System — with more features, including simulations, mind maps, worksheets, web links, a diagram maker, graphic organizers and assessment tools.
Low level of penetration in government schools
The total number of schools in India stands at 1.3 million. Of these, private schools account for 20% and only around 10% of the private schools have tapped the potential of multimedia classroom teaching whereas in government schools or government sponsored schools, it has barely made any inroads. The current low level of penetration in government schools or government sponsored schools may be heightened only with the active co-operation and financial help from the central or state govt and through digital technology providers. Educomp Solutions, Everonn Education, NIIT, Core Education & Technologies, IL&FS and Compucom are dominant players in this sector. New entrants include HCL Infosystems, Learn Next, Tata Interactive Systems, Mexus Education, S. Chand Harcourt (India) and iDiscoveri Education. Except for S. Chand Harcourt, which is a joint venture between S. Chand and US-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, all the others are Indian firms.
Trend to adopt latest technology even by schools in smaller cities
A recent trend is that schools in tier two and tier three cities are increasingly adopting the latest technology. Schools in these smaller cities realize that it is difficult for their students to get as much exposure as students from tier one cities. So they proactively subscribe to the latest technology which richly benefits both teachers and students by simplifying the syllabus. Even parents want the best for their wards and are not averse to paying a little extra. They see value in these initiatives by schools to modernize the way teaching is imparted today.
The task of our state govt
The Govt of West Bengal should initiate digital education in its Sponsored Schools through implementation of computer-aided learning in schools, installing bio-metric devices to monitor attendance of teachers, and setting up computer hardware, software and other allied accessories and equipments. The task has not been an easy one. There are several logistical issues. Delivery of equipment to rural areas is a big challenge in itself. There is lack of basic infrastructure — either there are no classrooms or there are ones with no windows. Some schools don’t even have toilets. Moreover, the power availability in these areas is often poor and the Govt has to deploy generator sets in many schools.
ConclusionBut before going through this transformation powered by technology, one key question is how big a role technology will play in the education sector. There are four parts to learning — lectures, library, laboratory and life. Technology plays a critical role in all these. However, it needs to be understood that technology is only an enabler and a force multiplier and cannot be treated as a panacea. We believe that impressive gains in teaching-learning outcomes are possible only through an integrated approach rather than a piecemeal intervention.