There is an old saying that ‘education moves mountains’ but as far as Himachal Pradesh is concerned the opposite is true, because the hill state is making rapid strides in the field of education.
The picturesque state is best known as a tourist destination and as a factory producing brave soldiers. However there is more to it especially when its education system is studied.
Various reports and surveys published in recent times have acknowledged Himachal’s success in the sphere of education, for example Annual Status of Education Report(ASER) of 2017 placed Himachal Pradesh in the top stop.
As an educator myself I had the opportunity to view the education system of the state from close quarters and indeed being a part of it.
Himachal’s success in education field is even more stupendous when you consider the monumental challenges the state faces- chronic financial crunch, being totally debt ridden, dependency on centre for funds, geographically divergent and extreme climatic conditions.
I have in the past work in private as well as government educational institutions of Delhi, the capital of India. I have to say that the situation of government schools of Delhi is very poor.
While there are many reasons for this state of affairs the parent’s inability to spare time for their wards (due to daily struggle for making ends meet), apathy of teachers towards students and a system which is negligent to the quality of education being given to students are some of the chief reasons.
No doubt the national capital has succeed in building physical infrastructure and is providing the best possible salary to its teachers the negligence of teachers is appalling and needless to say is jeopardising the future of the students.
When I compare my experience of teaching in a private school in Delhi to my present engagement in a government school of Himachal Pradesh I find stark similarities. Firstly in both cases motivation levels of teachers is high, they are motivated not only for the optimum development of the students but also are keen on constantly upgrading their own skills so that they can perform better.
Another thing which works is a favorable pupil-teacher ratio it is well maintained and facilitates better teaching. Thirdly the parents and school management, both key factors in determining the quality of education- harmonious relationship and very close cooperation between these two factors can be seen.
There is however another factor in Himachal that is responsible for the rapid improvement in the state’s education system, this factor often goes unnoticed.
I find in HP that although the state faces financial crunch, parents are willing to contribute to develop infrastructure of the schools, they shoulder this responsibility fully recognizing the value of education.
Many teachers and parents collaborate to produce better learning facilities for their future generation.
Teachers in Himachal Pradesh are held in high esteem the reason being every school has at least some teachers (if not all) who are giving more than they ought to.
Many such teachers go out of their way to ensure a bright future for their students. Extra classes are voluntarily being conducted by them without any such directions from the principles or the state government education department.
The State Government is not leaving any stone unturned to improve the quality of education.
The government’s seriousness can be gauged from the fact that it has been able to ensure that the recruitment process of teachers is very fair. Interviews for the teaching posts are being abandoned. Teachers need to pass HP TET and then a selection board exam to enter into the government services. Such fairness has improved the trust of the people in the Government.
To check unfair means in examinations almost all the schools have installed CCTV cameras as per the directions of Government. These are the reasons which makes me compare the private school of Delhi with the Government school of Himachal Pradesh.
Of course there is room for improvement- salaries of teachers especially not recruited through commission should be reviewed, fair transfer policies needs to be insured so as to give a balanced chance to all teachers to serve in various geographies of the state.
In conclusion I would say that the overall scenario in HP looks positive and we have every reason to expect even better in the future.
(Ajay Rathore is the Principle of Government Senior Secondary School, Gadagussain, Mandi, HImachal Pradesh, views expressed are personal)