New Delhi, January 28, 2018: Anil Swarup is Secretary, School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, which is as hot a seat as the one he has just vacated, Coal Secretary. The Uttar Pradesh cadre official has hit the ground running. Here he speaks to Kaveree Bamzai about his goals.
What should be done to make education part of the national discourse again?
When was it part of the discourse? When I was Union Coal Secretary, I was told it was like Gangs of Wasseypur. The mining was underground and the mafia were overground. In Human Resource Development, I can tell you confidently that education is overground and the mafia is underground. That is the fundamental understanding. The pivot of education is the teacher. And anything that could have gone wrong with it has gone wrong. There is a problem at every level. Pre-service training is in the hands of B Ed colleges, 40 per cent of which are run by the biggest mafia. The selection process is faulty and the teacher who comes in has training that is just not good enough. Thirty per cent do not even go into school and there is no periodic upgrade of skills accroding to indiatoday.in
How are you trying to correct things?
Well, we got NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education) to ask B Ed colleges to file affidavits. Only 12,000 colleges submitted affidavits with the rest taking the matter to courts. Seeking the affidavit was the first step towards ensuring certification and ensuring a rating system. But we have got a huge amount of political support from the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh chief ministers. On recruitment, we are considering a national test like CAT and SAT to select teachers. The Central schools already have CTET (Central Teacher Eligibility Test) which works very well for Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas. On induction, we have taken a decision to institute an induction course. As for the problem with absenteeism, we have experimented with tablets, linked with GPS and biometrics. Initial results are good-attendance is improving. And on teachers training in service, we are trying to create a national teachers platform where teachers can develop their credentials and upgrade their skills. Each video is rated through crowdsourcing and we are using the help of Nandan Nilekani’s Ek Step. States can have their own platforms.
Accroding to the reports published in indiatoday.in that when I came here a year ago, I saw that we are always looking for solutions across the globe from Iceland to Finland. But we hadn’t looked at India. So I decided to travel across India, and have done 24 states so far, driving from Pune to Goa, Srinagar to Kargil and Bastar to Sukma. I found amazing solutions there which need to be noticed, recognised and replicated. I gathered 111 best practices and had a seven-day long workshop for ideation. We found 25 projects were replicable and went back to the states to showcase them in roadshows. We found stunning examples of individual brilliance. Like Pashtepada in Maharashtra where there is no electricity and no wi-fi and yet a driven teacher Sandip Gund has created a totally digital classroom with a second-hand laptop. He raised resources and got two tablets. Now every child has a laptop there which they are charging on solar panels. This has become the model for 60,000 schools. The President brought him over to Rashtrapati Bhavan and honoured him. Similarly, on a visit to Lucknow we had the midday meal and found it so fabulous that we had to inquire who was behind it. We were told it was Akshay Patra and found they serve midday meals to 1.5 million children. After our intervention to help them get more space and funding (through the Uttar Pradesh government and Coal India) they can now serve three million children.indiatoday.in
This is a running theme in all your work, whether it is highlighting the good done by young ias officers or by those in the are a of education, through your social media platform #nexusofgood?
We say don’t overlook the wrongs but also the good work. For instance, in Kashmir, we’ve decided that education needs to be used as a way to mainstream people. We are creating an exchange programme between 9,000 to 10,000 sister schools.