School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash seems quite serious to bring a turnaround in the standard of education in the State.
Apparently inspired by its recent jump to 7th position in School Education Quality Index (SEQI) from 12th rank in 2015-16 in the Niti Aayog’s report, the Minister is making whirlwind tours to various districts to see for himself the existing school infrastructure, attendance of teachers and students.
Besides, he is also making surprise visits to schools – both in remote tribal areas and urban centres – to examine standard of education and quality of the mid-day meal served to the pupils. He is very often seen taking classes to see if the students are taught properly and eating mid-day meal to know if the food has been cooked as per Government specifications.
The Minister said the State Government has entered a memorandum of understanding with the software giant IBM to impart quality science and technological education to students studying in Class 8, 9 and 10.
“To enable the students to compete with the private-run English medium schools, we are also contemplating to change the curriculum and include English at primary school level,” the Minister said, adding, parents would soon restore their faith in State-run schools.
The Minister also informed that the State had started opening Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya on CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) model in all the 314 blocks.
“Till today, we have opened 212 Odisha Adarsha Vidyalayas and in the process of opening the remaining schools. In each of these schools, at least 100 girls are accommodated in hostels free of cost,” said the Minister.
Dash said he was personally monitoring the facilities given to at least 9 lakh students studying in six thousand residential hostels.
The Minister informed that the Government was focusing on use of technology options and digital devices to ensure maximum attendance of classes by both students and teachers in schools.
At least 966 schools which registered less than 10 students had been closed and Collectors of the concerned districts were asked to decide those building infrastructure for other purposes, the Minister informed.
For social auditing of functioning of schools, the Minister said, elected Sarpanches have been made chairpersons of schools in their respective gram panchayats.
Dash said actions were being taken against teachers who have remained absent for years. “There are reports that some teachers have remained absent for five years. We are initiating departmental actions and if they fail to give proper reply they would be dismissed,” the Minister said.