The South Asian Times

21 January 2019 02:46 AM

Sisodia to talk innovation in Delhi's education system at Harvard

By Vijaylakshmi Nadar

New York: In just under three years, since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took charge of the Delhi government in February 2015, their performance, despite interference by the Central government, has been satisfactory. They have especially generated substantial traction in the education and health sectors, attracting attention worldwide.

It is no surprise then that the deputy chief minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia has been invited to speak at the India centric conference in USA called ‘India - Disruptive Innovations’ to be held at Harvard Business School  and Harvard Kennedy School in Boston on February 10-11. He will speak at the conference on the simple but concentrated efforts they took to completely turn around Delhi's government schools, positively impacting the lives of almost 16 lakh students.
Representatives from other political parties like Suresh Prabhu from the BJP and mediamen like Ravish Kumar have been invited as well to address the conference.

About a 100 AAP volunteers, from across the USA and Canada, will be sharing space and ideas with Sisodia, who has been recognized as the country's most successful education minister. He and party leader and chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal are of the firm belief that the quickest way to put an end to widespread poverty in the city and country, is by ensuring quality education for the poor children, with which they can make a significant difference in their lives, in one generation alone.

The image one gets of government schools anywhere in the country is of ramshackle buildings, with poor facilities, missing teachers, and poor implementation of midday meals, all contributing to a high dropout rate among students, with most of them failing to exhibit age and grade appropriate  learning.

Things were no any different in Delhi schools when AAP came into power. Sisodia, who has been a school teacher in the past, quickly got to work, allocating 25% of the annual budget, a whopping sum of Rs 11,300 crore and the highest in the country, towards education alone.

Though AAP has been constantly deadlocked with Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor over allotment of land to build new schools, there was no force stopping them from turning the existing ones around.

AAP government’s biggest success came from forming the School Management Committees (SMC), which is mandatory according to the provisions of the Right to Education Act 2009, but which was either defunct or non-existent before Sisodia took charge. The SMC's which is a simple concept of involving both the parents and the teachers in the students’ welfare, thereby making them  equally accountable, has been so successful that  a team from Harvard university, is studying its impact.

One of the biggest concerns of these schools was that 50% of the students of the 1024 government schools dropped out in the 9th grade, or held back. Almost 9.5 lakh students from 6th to 9th grades too lacked the requisite grade level competence in the languages and maths. These students were segregated into smaller groups, guided by a teacher, who focused on improving reading and writing abilities on par with their grades. All of this was constantly monitored produced results soon enough with more students clearing their tenth standard than ever before, while students in the lesser grades gained increased competence in their core subjects. 

The author is an AAP volunteer.

Update: 08 Feb, 2018