"How is it that we can support every child to be the achievers of the 21st century", says Atishi Marlena, Advisor to the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi.
Atishi Marlena has worked in the field of alternative education and curriculum for a long time. Currently, she is working with Manish Sisodia, the Advisor to the Deputy CM of New Delhi, on improving the effectiveness of various stakeholders involved in Government schools.
With the rising problems in Indian government schools, public education should be in the prior focus, and most importantly, education in the government-run schools where the learning levels are abysmal, and major changes are needed at many levels.
In an exclusive interview with educationbiz at the 8th Indian Education Congress 2018, Marlena gave an overview of what all is needed in scaling Education to every corner of the country.
Quality Education For All:
Marlena said, “We need disruption in how we are going to provide high-quality education to every child in this country. In my opinion, the problem is that it is only reaching maybe 5% of the students. We really need some disruptive innovations and ideas on how every child in the country can access to high quality, irrespective of their ability to pay.”
Working Towards the Solution:
Improving government schools was the only complex problem that the government is facing. To which Marlena responded, “For bringing these key changes, the government doubled its education budget, at first. Of course, there are financial investments that the government needs to make. The Delhi government invests 25% of its budget on education. So yes, money will have to be put in.”
Highlighting on the infrastructural expansion she said, “The government has been working on improving low-quality infrastructure. But despite several expenditures, there are no learning outcomes.”
Initiating Teacher Training Programmes:
With the mushrooming of international and private schools, it may seem that the education system of India is healthy. In reality, only 29% of children are sent to the private schools, while the remaining head of the government or state-funded education. So, to check the reality of Indian education system it is better to look beyond the gates of government schools in the country.
Marlena added, “Our primary focus should be transforming our teaching styles, our curriculum, and our support systems ensuring, that these children get to walk through the school gates.”
Marlena stressed on the teacher training programmes that need to be initiated by the government. To back this statement she stated that, “The focus really has to be on the teacher. I think for teacher education programmes we really need to push our limits, in providing world-class teacher training to the existing government school teachers. We can provide world-class exposure to all our teachers by sending them off to Harvard, Cambridge etc.”
Altering the Face of Teachers
In her concluding words, she mentioned that “The more innovative, the more creative teachers, who will mentor the others, which will help in making the real transformation in teacher education.”
The real picture of Indian government schools can only be altered when the government takes a call not only with fancy names like ‘Teach India’ but literally going to rural areas and ensuring the education is catered at its best to children.