Education#ix Chapter 6 – Organisational Aspects: How RD is Organised

Rural Development Through Educational System – A Report

Chapter 6
Organisational Aspects

Recognition
Infrastructure
Small Schools
The Instructors
The Lecturers
Salary Scales and Staff Rules
Equipment
Records
Coordination
Feed Back from Villagers
Stock Keeping
The Work Culture
The Time Table
Groups and Themes
Student Teacher Ratio
Make Your Own Equipment Schemes


Recognition

The first requirement was to get recognition from the state education board and the vocational directorate for the rural technology teaching in the three schools. The applications were duly made and the reply came from their district office that the government has decided not to allow, even on a no grant basis, permission for any pre SSC technical schools, pending their study of their usefulness (dated 9. Aug 1988 from Tak, Inspector, Directorate of Vocational Education).

I contacted Mrs. Kumud Bansal who had recommended our case to MHRD for securing the grant for this project. How could the same government now not give us the permission. Mrs. Bansal, who was then the secretary for the technical education, assured that was not applicable to us and our schools will get recognition for teaching rural technology. She passed the orders immediately. But to get the same to the school level took several months and innumerable visits to the Mantralaya. First the recognition was given to Vigyan Ashram and not the schools and for only one division. After a few more months, the correct orders were received. While this did not delay the program it did divert a lot of out time and energy into dealing with the petty officialdom in the Mantralaya, who were courteous but not effective. After several months I got a letter to state that Vigyan Ashram had been permitted to start one division for rural technology. (Letter dated 1.3.89 from desk officer, Govt. of Maharashtra). After explaining to them that not Vigyan Ashram, but the three schools were to be given permission, and not for one division, it took another several months to get the new order allowing the schools to start rural technology program. (Final permission from Mantralaya by latter dated 7.6.90, with retrospective effect from the academic year 1988-89).

Infrastructure

Though the state education board had specified the minimum facilities that each school must have for the rural technology course and the Directorate of Vocational Education was entrusted with the task of inspection, they accepted that Vigyan Ashram was responsible for buying and supplying the equipment, and this equipment was therefore considered available. While this was necessary as the funds were approved but not received, the obtaining of the electric connection was to be on the school initiative. Particularly, the Dhamari and Mukhai schools were to share the facilities as both were small units with one small division of 25-30 students. Dhamari claimed the facilities on the basis that they earlier had a technical section and therefore had drawing boards, work tables and hall, bench vices etc. The question was settled by both schools agreeing that the workshop will be set up in that school where the 3 phase power supply is obtained first. The Dhamari school obtained the power supply within two days and Mukhai needed a little less than a year; Loni also needed close to a year for getting the electric connection.

Apart form the equipment, Mukhai had no building or land of their own. For agriculture, they always mentioned some land as promised but never had any land allotted to them. Loni and Dhamari had spacious campuses but no farm. However they did nursery and vegetable gardening. They also had good workshop buildings built through community funding and student contribution towards the steel work. In agriculture, farming was therefore never seriously tried.

Small Schools

One of our objectives was that small schools located in small villages should not be discriminated against. While generally we aimed at village of less than 10,000 population, such schools can have around 1000 school strength and may be considered big. The Dhamari and Mukhai school had only one division each with only about 25-30 students in the middle school. We thus looked at the possibility of combining two such schools as one unit and giving the equipment between them. When Mukhai school joined the program, it was agreed that Dhamari and Mukhai would from one unit and Loni school would form a separate unit. Therefore two instructors for Dhamari and Mukhai each were appointed and a common lecturer. For any one day three instructors are required. So when the practicals are in one schools, the other school still has one instructor to attend to urgent community demands. The equipment for workshop, energy and environment was to be in one school while the equipment for water resource developments, construction, agriculture and animal husbandry was to be in the other school. Both the headmasters had agreed that the students could go to the other school for appropriate practicals. Thus both schools would have practicals energy day, from their own or from the other school students.

However it was soon seen that transporting about 15-20 boys and girls every week wasted a lot of time as bus and truck transport was rare. Bicycles were also not feasible. And in any case a lot of time, about an hour was spent coming to the other school. We had to find another way. We therefore suggested that if each school could collect Rs 6000 from the community, we could give them the essential equipment so that most of the practicals could be done in their own school and the staff could go from one school to the other. We gave each school one bicycle, later increased to two for such use. The Dhamari and Mukhai schools collected the said amount and were given supplementary equipment so that travel by students for practicals were avoided.

Thus we could demonstrate that small schools can be grouped together in pairs and treated as one unit as far as teaching staff is concerned. The problems about granting leave were solved by mutual cooperation, with the duty headmaster having to sanction leave, for all staff. Keeping records of leave was also not very difficult. When the salary is to be paid by one of the schools, it must get the leave records from the other school.

The Instructors

In preparation for the starting of the program in the three schools, a selection committee or the three concerned Headmasters, and myself was formed and instructors were selected from among the trainee staff and students of the non-formal courses available at Vigyan Ashram.

No outside candidates were called through advertisement as no ITI certificate holders were having the kind of multiskill training we had in our syllabus. Any ITI certificate holder had to be retrained by us. We had thus two such candidates, Kailas Pingale and Madhukar Bagate. The latter was a welder and had not been fully trained in all the other subjects.

The selection committee selected eight instructors from among the candidates available then. Six were from the trainee staff who had been teaching the subject for more than a year at the Ashram, and two were selected from others, one student, who had just completed the RT course Ranganath Shinde and Madhukar Bagate who had worked at the Ashram for several years and was fairly familiar with the subjects but had not been formally trained for teaching. All the instructors had been earning less than Rs 400 p.m. then and were enthusiastic about being appointed at Rs 900 p.m.

On selection they were required to stay in the village and be under the discipline of the school, where posted.

Initially we had an idea that at least one of the instructors would be trained in sewing and knitting and be asked to take the girls classes, just like the other practicals. But we found this was not possible, neither the instructors had the finesse nor any interest in this subject. So we asked the schools to nominate staff either from their staff or from the village, a lady who could be trained for this. The Mukhai school identified Mrs. Yelwande who was the wife of a school staff member and already had some stitching classes at her home. She was selected for teaching both Mukhai and Dhamari. The Loni school first nominated a lady teacher on the staff but very soon we found she was not taking sufficient interest and then the school identified Mrs. Walunj, who had considerable experience in knitting. Both Mrs. Yelwande and Mrs. Walunj were called to Pabal and given training in sewing and knitting, other practicals related to the use of stoves, pressure cooker, first aid, types of detergents and cleaning processes, some food products and the lab procedures.

The sewing and knitting was picked up easily. It was more the system of teaching, rather than the skill. But the lab procedures were the most difficult and we did not press too hard on these. The remaining items were learnt by these ladies, but we don’t know how effectively they could teach.

These two ladies were appointed as part time instructors and paid at the same rate as the other instructors but for the actual time of instruction only.

Mrs. Yelwande had her own classes at home and was charging fees. Now we had given her this responsibility of teaching not only the school girls but also out of school girls and ladies from the village as non-formal students. This raised the problems that it would clash with her private tuition interests. As the Mukhai school had no building of their own the space for these classes was also a problem. So the school proposed and we had no alternative that the sewing machine given under the project be located in her home along with her own machine. The girl’s classes were therefore held in Mrs. Yelwandes home. The Dhamari school, though operating without the State Govt. grant, had their own building and had a place for their machine and the girls classes.

This always led to a doubt about whether our machines and time was properly used or not. We did allow a fee to be charged and this to be given to the lady instructor as an incentive but this was nominal and of doubtful effectiveness in the case of Mrs. Yelwande.

Mrs. Walunj, turned out to be a very dedicated instructor and also a very competent one as far as knitting was concerned. She was following the fees and deposit pattern set by us and also had collected a large number of non-school girls and ladies for her classes, which were held regularly in the school including the school vacations. In fact the classes often had more than twenty participants and there were requests for additional space and some times two sessions. In such cases, she was paid proportionately more salary. However we discouraged this double shift work, except in vacations. Mrs. Walunj did an excellent job and deserves credit. Unfortunately there was no way to do this except of course the annual increment.

Mrs. Walunj did make an attempt to learn the lab procedure, but did not succeed. When the Loni school girls had to do a project on hemoglobin estimation in local subjects, our staff went there with our trainers to take the classes.

As the home science and the medical tests constitute an important part of the rural technology scheme, this problem would come in the extension of this to more schools. The proper solution will be to have at least one lady instructor for each unit who could take the home and health topics for the girls. Ideally, this should be from among the existing school staff, with an additional allowance. However, we have doubts about how much motivation they could have since the teachers salaries are comparatively much higher, and the responsibilities and effort are much less that the instructors in the rural technology system. Also we need to have and open a University course in Medical Lab technology, so that some of the school staff, preferably the science teachers, can be persuaded to take this qualification, which would add to their status in their society and also bring in some additional income. Such qualified diplomas in Medical Lab technology could be asked to supervise the work of neighboring schools also They could have access to a moped for mobility.

The Lecturers

For this we had no trained staff. In fact even for Vigyan Ashram classes, we had a frequent turnover of staff, and were getting diploma engineers and training them in a hurry. From the candidates available Mr. Shelar and Gambhir were selected. Mr. Shelar was a more senior Civil Engineering Diploma holder with a nominal experience, who had applied on hearing from Mr. Alhat another Civil Engineering Diploma holder with us at Vigyan Ashram. Mr. Gambhir was very fresh from the polytechnic. The training of all three was started by me on weekly basis and consisted in explaining to them the lessons in the text books prepared by us. However the attendance of these two lecturers was not satisfactory, and so was their application to the study. When a test was given all three did poorly, particularly Gambhir. Mr. Gambhir was also irregular in the school and very soon resigned and left. Mr. Alhat was transferred to Dhamari / Mukhai and a new recruit Khambayat was taken at Vigyan Ashram.

Thus we always had a problem about a trained Lecturer for the rural technology, there was frequent changes and this affected the studies of the students.

Another problem was that while the lecturers were trained in one discipline only, civil or mechanical or electrical, they were expected to teach subjects dealing with not only all these three but also water resource development, agriculture, animal husbandry, health and nutrition etc. Also even in their own fields, the knowledge of the engineers and the other graduates was superficial and they couldn’t understand many things even in their own field. The subject matter of the course as given in the text book was not difficult and was understandable by the students, when I had myself taken the classes. However, our normal “graduates” partly because of the poor education system, and partly due to their own fault, often did not understand many elementary things properly, and here were being expected to teach. Another difficulty was that these lecturers, were suppose to guide and supervise the practical program of the instructors, however they were themselves so poor in practical work that they weren’t confident enough to challenge the instructors in their knowledge. This was a problem we faced continuously, for which no solution is in sight even now. It is in fact a compliment to our system that we could make these drop outs into strong technical staff that could challenge the polytechnic diploma holders often even in their subject of study.

To avoid the frequent changes in staff, we had devised a savings scheme, where in we deducted Rs 100 from the salary of the instructors and Rs 200 from the salary of the lecturers every month and deposited this in a recurring deposit account separate for each staff. This was to be returned to them after the completion of the project only if they completed the project and without any indiscipline.

Except for Mr. Alhat and Mr. Gambhir, there were no other resignations from the staff. All the instructors completed their terms.

There is a need for a lady lecturer. We have produced some Marathi instruction material about the legal rights of women and their social status. We have also in the same an important chapter about the health problems of women. This chapter gives with illustrations, information that adolescent girls should have. This is about the sex organs, the monthly cycles and the menstruation period. It tries to teach how to tackle the physical and psychological problems arising out of this. This has been a useful lesson not only for the school girls but also for the out of school girls coming for the sewing and knitting classes. These lessons cannot be taken by the male instructors. Even the female instructors will need more training to be able to take these confidently. A lady lecturer, with more education and experience(age will help) would be required for these lessons.

Salary Scales and Staff Rules

The scales of pay were decided, at the time the project proposal was first drafted in 1986-87. Time following points were considered.

1. Vigyan Ashram scales for the diploma holders were comparable. 2. The scales would not be unfair to the farmers and other who would come in contact with the technical staff. 3. The scales of staff already in the school.

The problem was very clear. From our experience at Vigyan Ashram, we had seen that many of the youth had easily aquired an arrogance when they landed good jobs. The salary should be attractive enough for the work put in but should not be out of proportion to the service they give to the villagers. In short, the villagers should feel the staff deserve the salary they get. However no formal consultations were held. It is my feeling that the normal school teaching staff at present, get a salary far beyond what can be justified in terms of their efforts put in, commitment or benefit to the society.

When the staff was recruited, the instructors were very happy with the salary they were getting. Most of the villagers were also happy with the boys. However the instructors and lecturers were not getting along too well. The lecturers could not justify even the small extra salary they were given. At the same time we couldn’t have got any candidates without paying at least the salary we were paying. Training existing teachers for conducting the lectures was not feasible. The instructor were not good enough to be considered for training for the lecturers duty. This has remained a weak point throughout. All the staff would get Rs 100 p.m. raise in salary as an increment, and this would not be automatic, but based on acceptable performance.

The policy of the staff rules was very clear. A technical section, with the objective of service to the community should have the proper work culture. Therefore, the Vigyan Ashram staff rules were extended. The 48 hour week, 10 days maximum casual leave, and maximum 10 days paid holidays for the whole year along with 30 days earned leave, after one years service were laid down. The earned leave could be encased at the current salary rate. These were accepted without any problems. Encashment of earned leave was allowed in order to avoid breaks in the program. While a planned leave program is desirable, most of the youth do not plan their vacation and use earned leave like an extended casual leave. The staff rules were to be enforced by the school management.

It was generally found that the school management was slack in enforcing discipline. Both the instructors would ask for Vigyan Ashram orders. This was inspite of clarifying that they were to be under the headmaster control.

Apart from the increment being subject to minimum acceptable performance, an incentive scheme was tried after the first year. Under this scheme a minimum quota for community service value was agreed upon. It was Rs 3000 per month, for Dhamari and Mukhai schools and Rs 5000 for the Loni school, bank accounts for the community service. Those who exceeded this quota for a complete quarter, would get 1/4 of the next increment in advance. The increment would remain in force as long as they maintain the minimum, but would get canceled if they should drop below the minimum for a whole quarter. The increment would get merged with the annual increment, if the quota was not exceeded at the end of the year.

This incentive did boost community service, though it was cumbersome to implement. It raised problems about the staff going to the other school and doing services work there. It raised questions about whether the lecturer would get incentive increment if either schools exceeded the minimum quota.

Loni staff was generally poor in performance in the first year and some of the staff had to be warned about withholding the increment and one staff member had his increment delayed by three months.

Equipment

Equipment was purchased from Vigyan Ashram as per the list given in the syllabus. Two sets were purchased. A copy of the list was maintained in our files. The purchase of the lathe was the more difficult. At Rs 22,000 each, it was the single most expensive item. One lathe was given to Dhamari and one to Loni schools. They were transported directly to the schools. They were installed in temporary accommodation as the final workshop buildings were not ready for almost one more year.

Apart from the initial equipment, the schools made their own purchases of raw material and minor equipment. Initially this was done jointly but later each schools took care of its own requirements. We made some effort at coordination, to make sure that prices were all uniform, But coordination was not possible and we remained satisfied about checking the prices during accounting.

 

There was no way for us to check whether stock entries were made for all the items.

Records

The more important records to be kept were accounts, stock books, dead stock registers and casual leave records.

Following this, a record had to be kept of the practicals taken and theory lessons taken. Projects and project reports for the 10 std students. Status reports every month. Community accounts, work done by the students and a register of formal and non-formal students.

All schools were expected to send their accounts to Vigyan Ashram along with vouchers signed by the respective headmasters, every month. The accounts of all the schools were combined into a single account and stored in our computer. Each school had two accounts in the Bank of Maharashtra in Pabal. We considered the community service account as not our concern and did not maintain this account. However for the purpose of the incentive scheme, we asked for and received the passbook for scrutiny and got any vouchers for inspection, when needed. The project account for each school was recorded in our computer as part of the project fund. This allowed quick transfer of money without withdrawing cash through self cheques. The pass books were sent to Vigyan Ashram for reconciliation.

The system of writing accounts, preparing vouchers etc. was standardised and taught to the staff of all the three schools and there was not much difficulty in maintaining proper accounts, however some were more systematic and some were less. But no one complained about the system being too complex or difficult.

The status reports were received every month for inclusion in the Ashram status reports. We have always given the highest priority for writing monthly status reports and issuing them on time.

We have generally found that as a nation, we have a cultural weakness in not keeping request records. Therefore the recording of the monthly events, decisions and some quantitative data of future relevance, was recorded in our status reports and one copy was filled with us and one was sent to the Indian Institute of Education, Pune for circulation and safe keeping. Generally the reports were made ready by the 1st or the 2nd and issued by the 5th, gradually a slackness crept in and the issue was usually delayed till about 8th or the 12th of every month, but monthly reports have been recorded and found useful for retrieving past information for current decisions.

The school reports were written by the technical staff who were not used to writing reports in any language, and certainly not in English.

We did not insist on English reports and would be satisfied with Marathi reports that we would later translate into English. However the staff liked to try and write in English. We tried to help by making a format so that they could just enter the numbers and a few words. However a format has a disadvantage as we found that a fixed format does not bring in anything that occurs out of routine. Thus special events were missed and we had to enter them ourselves.

The status reports and the accounts were the two most important records. The other records not being kept with us were also not inspected by us. We called for a copy of the stock register at the end of the project and though with some confusion, we got them.

Coordination

The coordination between the different schools giving the rural technology lessons, were held by rotation at each of the schools / centers viz. Vigyan Ashram, Dhamari, Mukhai and Loni schools. The Directors, the Traveling Instructor and any concerned staff from Vigyan Ashram, the headmasters of all the three schools, the two lecturers, and one instructor from each of the schools were expected to attend. In addition more instructors from the host school could attend, if they desired to do so.

The agenda was to confirm minutes of the earlier meetings, review operations, any new items and so on.

The matters that came up were related to extra facilities or materials needed by the schools, permission for any changes, sanctions, complaints about other staff or schools, etc. Action points for the next period were usually recorded.

The discussions tended to be concerned with details and often the headmasters were not interested and it was common that most headmasters, did not attend when the meeting was in another school. Sometimes they couldn’t attend the meetings even in their own schools, when they had to go out for other work. On such occasions, they deputed the clerk or another teacher for the meeting.

The meetings served a very useful function of thrashing out problems and taking quick decisions. The y were also an occasion to see what is going on. In the beginning, we used the occasion to see the facilities or the actual instruction going on in the school. Later this became more an exception than a rule.

Transport from Pabal to the school, even if the distances were only 4-8 kms was a problem, particularly for Loni school. There was a suitable state transport bus to reach Dhamari and Mukhai which were on the same route. However, Loni was a problem because there were no buses at all during the school hours and the road also was very bad. Traveling by trucks transporting sand was the common mode. The Dhamari and Mukhai staff had first to reach Pabal, by bus or truck and then change transport for the Loni route. This meant that it took a long time to travel and people were often late for the meetings. This was perhaps the main reason why the headmasters were not attending. On behalf of Vigyan Ashram, either the Director, Dr. Kalbag or the executive director, Shri Vijay Kumar or both used to attend.

In addition, annual review meetings were organised. These were all-day sessions when all the headmasters, including from the Pabal school, all the staff made presentations. Sometimes prominent personalities from each of the school villages were invited by the local headmasters.

I was conscious that the contact with the actual functioning of the system was inadequate, particularly for the girls education, including sewing and knitting classes. After he was appointed lecturer in the Loni school Mr Sopan Bagate was appointed traveling instructor.

However, neither could observe the proceeding keenly, and report back efficiently later. They could only give an impression that was convenient to them. Even when they did report back, they were not very clear. Ultimately, the traveling instructor was more a postal or message service, useful but not of much help as was desired. They weren’t confident enough to either analyse the situation and advise me or to help the schools to solve their problems. But this system continued until the end of the project in September 1992.

Yet another attempt at coordination was the starting of a news letter called “Vigyan Ashram Varta”. The objective of this was to bring forth frank opinions from the staff and students of the schools, to help solve common problems, to clarify lessons, give new information, also an opening to express talent among the staff and students of the schools. However the news letter was not to my satisfaction. For want of any better candidates, the traveling lecturer/ instructor was also given the responsibility to bring out the newsletter. The contents were put together, typed on an electronic typewriter and then photocopies were made and sent to the schools and our files,. The “editors” were never very eager or imaginative. The Marathi style was poor and had many mistakes. They collected whatever they got and put it in without much scrutiny.

However, it still served a purpose. Many lessons, some news from individual schools, and proceedings of refresher courses and review meetings and such matters were recorded and became useful documents.

About the end of the project, Mr. Bagate gave up bringing out new issues altogether.

While I cannot term the “Vigyan Ashram Varta” as a success, it certainly was a good attempt at coordination between the different schools. I would certainly recommend it if many schools all over the state start this rural technology program. But I would also give it a much higher priority and recruit a special editor and make it a full time responsibility for one person chosen for his literary ability.

Feed Back from Villagers

At the beginning, before the program was started, the advisory committee of the Vigyan Ashram which had the headmasters of the Pabal and the Loni schools, a retired primary school teacher(from Dhamari), respected in his village for his contribution to education and commitment to values, and a progressive farmer from Kanhersar, had discussed the selection of schools for the program. The different members were supposed to have discussions in the respective villages. When the program was announced in the villages by these representatives, a delegation from the Kanhersar school committee and the Mukhai school committee came to visit the Vigyan Ashram. Both of them expressed the desire to join in the program and promised quick action, which was to get formal resolutions from the managing bodies about provision of the infrastructure facilities and agreeing to abide by the other terms of the funding agencies.

The Kanhersar group inspite of reminders was very slow in acting, the Mukhai group acted fast and was included in the program. The Dhamari group acted through the headmaster. Loni villagers group had visited and promised to build at their cost a workshop shed for the program.

The Dhamari school, though not having any grant from the Government for their secondary school as yet, obviously had a well organised fund collection system for paying even the salaries of the school teachers.

All the headmasters had agreed to hold meetings of prominent villagers, and had called me to explain the program and have discussions. But as the program implementation started, the village meetings never took place.

We had invited through the headmasters, prominent villagers for all annual review meetings. Many members of the managing committee, Sarpanches and prominent villages didn’t attend these meetings.

Apart from this I met prominent villagers at the monthly review meetings at Loni and Mukhai. However there was no formal and regular feed back system from the villagers.

We did receive some spontaneous complaints and representations, on which I had taken action. These were :

1. A complaint about some of the staff not being present at their posts of duty at the specified time, and grumbling when they were approached at their homes during the working hours, and not attending to service demands promptly. 2. Higher charges for services provided than those charged at Vigyan Ashram.

Such complaints were taken up at the next monthly review meetings and also earlier by correspondence. The technical staff also had their own cases about some villagers being unreasonable in their demands or some of them not making some earlier payments due to them.

However such complaints were not too many or frequent. The need for a formal complaint receiving and redressal system is certain and should be provided in each school. Normally the headmaster should be the person to do this but there must be a higher authority where appeals could be made, because some headmasters may not be seen as giving the justice sought.

Stock Keeping

Stock keeping is an important activity, not only for the schools but also for the curriculum. Thus the textbook covers the stock book as part of the accounts lessons. The keeping of inventory of capital items is done in all schools and they have standard format “Dead stock registers”. These are adequate, however as the number of such items is very much more in the technical section as against the usual school, the work is increased and there is a tendency to neglect it. But these are only one-time entries, to be followed up once a year. It may not present much problems in the extension to more schools.

Stock keeping of raw material is a different matter. The school needs to use steel in different forms, small items like welding rods, cement bricks, nuts and bolts, hand tools like pliers, measuring tapes, drill bits etc. There are two problems in keeping the stock records of these. Firstly the number of such items is very large and they are used frequently. Secondly, items like the hand tools, measure tapes, drill bits and hacksaw blades etc, are used very carelessly. If they are not to be accounted for they will be a cause of wastage of money and bad practice. If they are listed as consumables, there will be no control on their usage, we have therefore been listing it in the capital category but not including in the dead stock inventory. This problem has to be resolved. Perhaps there has to be a third category or they have to be issued in individuals names who have to be responsible for its care.

Stock keeping for items like steel, cement, bricks, welding rods etc. can be done using education as one use and specified jobs for other uses.

The Work Culture

The work culture has often been mentioned in the objectives of vocationalisation and work experience etc. but this has not been specifically defined nor does it appear anywhere in the syllabus.

In our rural technology program we have the following specific objectives which we have tried to implement, with only limited success. First we want an 8 hour working day, a 48 hour week, and 300 working days in a year. Vigyan Ashram works on all 7 days a week, with staggered holidays, on Thursdays and Saturdays, for the staff. Any group for service to the rural area and farm sector in particular, cannot truly be completely closed and inaccessible on certain days of the week. Urgent jobs do come up any day of the week(ideally provision must be made for access even at night, for emergencies) we have therefore tried to make the services available over as many days as possible. However the rural community is not used to planning or to time schedules, and so it is not uncommon for a farmer to waste time and then come late and say how urgent the job is and expect it to be taken care of, even late in the night. The solution to this is to have a penalty charge for outside normal working hours and double charge for night work. However the school should have designated people for doing such urgent work. It is for this reason that staying in the village was made compulsory. Traveling up and down from a distant village should be discouraged.

The other aspect of work culture is neatness in planning, and executing the work, correct posture, use of safety devices, keeping things in their allotted place and cleaning and storing the work tools after use and cleaning of the work place and environment.

It this respect, we have not succeeded to the desired extent. We find a societal weakness in this matter of discipline. Things forgotten in the open, “lost”, misused and broken, is a major cause of wastage. It also affects security, because keys of locks are frequently lost and then to avoid the cost and delay for making the duplicates, they master the art making the duplicate in the workshop by themselves and so there are many duplicates of keys floating around. So while I feel happy that so many have acquired the skills of making duplicate keys, its implications on security are serious.

The third aspect of work culture, that is important but we have not succeeded in instilling to the desired extent, is the pride every workman must have in what he has done. This is generally missing. Everyone should be proud of how he has done even small things like marking and drilling a hole. Instead most of the students and staff tend to take short cuts, not measure but approximate and do it somehow. While the job gets done fast, often it is not neat and may have to be done again with wastage of material. To avoid the wastage, there is then the temptation to accept the shoddy work. The result is that the habit of shoddy work gets ingrained. We have often got the students to break up the job and forced them to do it again properly. But this is far from being the culture of the place.

Thus we have defined the work culture, that is the three aspects – hours of work, neatness and safety of work, and pride in ones own work. These need to be stressed more in the execution of the curriculum.

The Time Table

The rural technology program requires that

1. One full day of at least 7 hours be kept for the subject and 2. These 7 hours be contiguous. Therefore it is necessary that the school timetable is rearranged to put all the conventional subjects in 5 days and keep one full day for the rural technology subject.

This is not a new situation. Already for the pre-vocational technical courses in the state, schools have to arrange the timetable in this way, because many schools are grouped and allotted one day each and make use of the facilities in another technical school. It is therefore necessary to have additional periods. A sample timetable is reproduced below. This gives also the total periods for the other compulsory subjects.

A Typical Timetable For VIII Std

Period

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thurs

Fri

Sat

1

Rural Tech.

English

English

English

English

P.T.

2

Rural Tech.

Geography

Biology

Marathi

Marathi

English

3

Rural Tech.

History

Geometry

Geometry

Geometry

Marathi

4

Rural Tech.

Hindi

Geography

History

Biology

Geometry

5

Rural Tech.

Algebra

Hindi

Hindi

Hindi

Physics

6

Rural Tech.

Chemistry

Marathi

English

Physics

7

Rural Tech.

Marathi

Algebra

Algebra

Chemistry

8

Rural Tech.

English

Marathi

Algebra

English

Total

English 8

Marathi 6

 

Hindi 4

Physical Sciences 6

 

Social Sciences 8

Maths 6

 

PT 8

Rural Tech. 6

For proper training, it is necessary that students have preferably 7 clock hours of contiguous study time, including 1 hour of classroom lecture and 6 hours of practical work including drawing. The minimum should be 5 hours, including 1 hour of lecture. In such cases, the time for drawing can be reduced.

At present the following subjects can be considered for being substituted by rural technology course as work experience program.

The present allocation as per the syllabus of the state education board 1981 is as follows.

Subject

Periods in Standard

 

VIII

IX

X

Art

3

nil

nil

Work Experience

2

3

3

Physical Education

2

2

2

Social Service

2

2

2

Total

9

7

7

1. Schools teaching technical subjects shall be permitted to allot 9, 10, and 12 periods for std. VIII, IX, and X th respectively. 2. Schools teaching agriculture subjects shall be permitted to allot 6 periods in std. IX X respectively. Physical education is a compulsory subject. Permission will be needed to substitute it by rural technology periods.

As practiced rural technology takes 10.5 periods of 40 minutes or 7 clock hours. This is because of the extended timing at Vigyan Ashram.

Each instructor has15-20 students. If each division has 60 students, and each standard has two divisions, then three instructors are needed to conduct one practical day.

Groups and Themes

As mentioned above, 60 students are made into 6 groups, with two of these groups being exclusively of girls. The curriculum has the following seven themes or topics.

1. Workshop Technology.

2. Energy and Environment.

3. Water Resource Development.

4. Construction.

5. Agriculture.

6. Animal Husbandry.

7. Home and Health.

Of these in std. VIII and IX, girls usually do Home and Health, in place of the workshop. In standard X however they have to chose 4 projects from different topics. At this time, the girls often chose workshop projects and do welding and other operations also.

So the above topics are given to three instructors as follows.

Instructor

1. Workshop / Home Health and Energy and Environment.

2. Water Resource Development and Construction.

3. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

A part time instructor is used for home and health practicals thus when the girls have the home & health practicals, the instructor I is free. We would have liked to have a lady instructor for the girls. We have tried attaching the instructors to two groups, irrespective of the subject hoping that with this the student and instructor will have more rapport. However this created the problem that they have to take charge of equipment from someone and so many different people handle the equipment. We therefore reverted back to the system where the instructors are given charge of two departments each. Different groups come to them, one in the morning session and another in the afternoon session. When all the practicals of these two topics are over, the two groups go to another instructor. Thus the same group stays with each instructor for 10 weeks. This system seems to work reasonably will as the time with each instructor is fairly large.

 

Also as each instructor has the same practical being repeated three times in a year, he can improve and standardise his methods.

Student Teacher Ratio

As mentioned earlier, we would like to have the student teacher ratio for practicals at 10 : 1. However the ratio as per the state education board practice for technical subjects, is 20 : 1. We have therefore tried the following methods of organising the practicals.

1. Each instructor has 20 students in two groups, one group has practicals in one topic and the other group in a different topic. Both groups are having the practicals at the same time and the instructor divides his time between the two. He starts by giving general instruction to both the groups about both the practicals. Then when the actual work starts he goes from group to group depending upon the difficulty of the work. To help him in this, he can appoint monitors in each group, who are called before the class, perhaps in the previous week. If these monitors are trained in the practicals then they can help guide the other students in their group. This has the advantage of some students guiding others which is a desirable feature but it is not easy to get all the monitors separately and train them as they have to spend more time.

2. We have now a system where the class is divided into 6 groups of 10 each with separate groups for girls. Then three groups start their say with practicals in the morning from 9.45 – 1.00 p.m. while the other three groups are having one hour of lecture and two hours of Engineering Drawing. After 2.00 p.m. the groups that had class work come out for the practicals and those who had practicals go in to the classroom for the lecture and drawing. This system is used in the Vigyan Ashram where the class often has more than 60 students. In the Dhamari and Mukhai schools where the number of students is less, this was not necessary.

The time for the practicals is reduced somewhat, but because the student group is smaller, the time for each student with the equipment is more. The staff have, however, more work within the same duty hours.

3. we should have more instructors to keep the ratio of students to instructors to 10 : 1. This will give more time for the students on the job and help to improve the quality.The instructor salary cost will go up, but by giving more services to the community we should be able to bear this extra cost.

Make Your Own Equipment Schemes

The rural technology program has a potential to get the schools to build their own facilities and equipment. The syllabus, while listing the equipment, classifies into two groups, one list of equipment to be purchased and the other to be made in the school by the students. There are some equipment like the drawing boards, the plane table survey equipment etc. which is required even in the first year. While such equipment is not beyond the capability of the technical section to make, often there is no time for this preparation, as it happened in our case. The program started in September and we already had a few months back log to be made up. So these were also purchased. But when there are a large number of schools being started, it would be possible for one school to make these equipment after the section has settled down and then to supply these equipment to newer schools beginning later. This will have to be organised with the help of any noble agency implementing this project. Perhaps the community polytechnics will be useful in this. They can also do the quality control, before passing on the equipment to the new school. Apart from the plane table survey instruments, and the drawing boards, this list may include the bench and pipe vices, and electrical circuit boards, and even a single phase welding transformer. In fact with more experience the school workshop can build more equipment not only for the newer technical schools, but also for other ordinary schools and Balwadis.

Thus the three schools in this project have helped to build their own infrastructure and also helped other schools in the making or repair of their class room desks and furniture, or things of need such as drinking water system, cycle stands etc. When the costs are affordable, the list is almost endless.

It is one of the features of this system that it has the potential within it not just to teach but to build up assets for the school and the community as well. This would be made easier if other agencies, like our Vigyan Ashram can develop designs specifically for the school workshop to make articles of relevance in the village.

 

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