Girls dropout, priority to English language and private schools, and empowerment of the school management committees (SMCs) were some of the key issues raised by members of over 350 SMCs from 20 districts during the third annual state-level convention of SMCs Sunday at Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad. Sharing their experiences, success stories and challenges faced in strengthening primary education in some of the most backward areas, SMC members from Odisha and Rajasthan too were part of the convention.
“Coming from the ‘Ahir’ community that usually does not promote girl education, I first made the women realise that education for their daughters is more important. After mobilising them, we held meetings with the community heads and now the rate of girls continuing higher education has increased,” said Jivtiben from Adesar village in Kutch.
Also, despite being illiterate, she could make out from her child’s notebooks that he was not being able to read or write properly. After the SMC members checked with the school, it was revealed that all those students who were taking private tuition from the teacher were able to read and write and those who were not could not. Similar community-based issues were shared by Ujambaben from Hamirpar in Kutch.
“A kindergarten student of a private school is able to read and write in English what a Class V government school student cannot. This impresses the parents who in turn prefer English teaching private schools over the government schools. This scenario needs to be changed. Government school students lag not because they are not talented or intelligent, but in the absence of opportunities,” said Sitaben, a SMC member from Surendranagar.
“Apart from adhering to the guidelines of conducting regular meetings and approving decisions, the SMCs should move a step ahead in ensuring quality education and become active participant in sharing ideas and suggestions,” said Devayat Ahir, SMC member from Rapar, Kutch.
“Low female literacy rate and irregular students are among the major issues being faced in our village. We held several meetings with the community, school teachers and village heads. Though the results were not immediate, it took us three-four years to have positive results,” Shushma, Uday Kumar from Odisha and Sheelaben from Rajasthan shared during an interactive session.