‘Education’ though the strongest pillar of the society, has never been in the election agenda of any political party. Why? Because the investment in education does not yield instant results. And if anyone were to invest in education, looking at the dismal condition of the government schools the political parties would find it more sensible to look the other way than take upon them the herculean task of revamping the schools in their constituencies.
The Delhi government(I did not mention the name of the political party on purpose. What’s important is that the political party ‘X’ gave importance to education and it became the harbinger of change) has done the unbelievable in the field of Education. They have literally turned the tables. This book describes their efforts of four years in the field of education and also documents the story of transformation in the government schools of Delhi.
They started the reforms by increasing the budget allocated for education, a steep increase from 12 percent to 25 percent. The personal involvement of the Education minister too, made a difference.
Next, they changed the look of each school. The schools were cleaned, classes were whitewashed, toilets were made and further steps taken to provide the basic ‘modern’ infrastructure which is the prerogative for learning to happen.
The other measures taken were
- the Principals were empowered by strengthening their positions and more funds were at their disposal
- The teachers and Principals were trained in Delhi and in IIMs
- They were also sent abroad for training
- Teachers were to focus on teaching rather than do other clerical jobs for the govt.
- The system of Mentor-Teacher was introduced
- The participation of parents was increased and they were given full dignity. PTMs were started and the teacher-parent partnership was strengthened for the improvement of academic performance of students.
In addition to these, steps were taken to reform the education system so that a new society could be created through education which rises above the evils of discrimination. The officials underwent training of ‘Jeevan Vidya Shivir’ which is based on the concept of coexistence. The concept of competition was to be minimised because the competition has to be with oneself and not the others.
“Children have to have faith in themselves. Faith in self means understanding the usefulness of oneself, to have faith in life.”Manish Sisodia
The Happiness Class was introduced so that the students understand their emotions, needs, wants and desires. During these sessions, the students practice mindfulness meditation, listen to inspirational stories and then discuss their thoughts and reactions. It reminded me of the Awakened Citizen Program training I had undergone at the Ramakrishna Mission, which emphasis that goodness is intrinsic in each human being.
For classes 9 to 12, Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum has been painstakingly designed and implemented. This has been done with the objective that these students will be future ready and confident enough to ‘create jobs’ for others rather than merely seek jobs. In the words of the Education minister, “an economy of jobseekers can never compete with one of job creators and providers.” Thus, if we have to compete in the world arena, we require entrepreneurs.
Whatever has been documented in this book, is at the nascent stage and yet it has brought about tremendous change. The Board results of past few years are a proof of the positive impact of these reforms. I hope that other governments and political parties follow suit and embark on a journey to achieve the aims of education, i.e. to make people learn the ability to live happily and to help others live happily!!
The Foreword of this book goes, “Delhi, a Hope…” It has made me hopeful. Acche din aayenge…zaroor aayenge!!