Rural Development Through Educational System – A Report
Into The Future
Into The Future
Into The Future
The Education system should be the source of all development and not just a means to meet the manpower needs of development plans. The education system that our rural technology represents has, we believe this potential. In this chapter, I shall indicate a broad outline of how this could be planned and the questions that are still not settled.
The SCERT (State Council of Educational Research & Training), Maharashtra has formulated a proposal, now before the state government, to start a course on the Vigyan Ashram Model, in 30 schools in 30 districts of the state. The Ministry of HRD at the center has modified the central scheme for grants for vocationalisation to provide for pre-vocational programs for IX and X standards. Thus, this is an appropriate time for considering how such a program could be implemented.
The SCERT proposal briefly has the following features :
1. The schools will give multiskill training to students as part of work experience/SUPW program.
2. The schools will provide in all 20% of the total time for this subject.
3. The community polytechnics will be involved in the training of the instructors, for these schools.
4. Community involvement and training of out of school youth from the same facilities will also be planned.
5. Attempts will be made to encourage resource generation by this program, through paid services to the community.
The community polytechnic(CP) scheme was introduced by Ministry of HRD in 1978. Some CP’s were selectively aided to enable them to use their knowledge and facilities and student strength for rural development. A national committee was appointed in 1987 to review the CP scheme and recommend reorientation if necessary. Implementation of these recommendations has been included in the revised plane of action on the new education policy as approved by the parliament in 1992.
The recommended reorientation includes the following :
1. The community polytechnic(CP) will conduct multiskill training of village youth in the village environment and with the objective of making these youth as trainers.
2. The CP’s will open their village centres, as far as possible in secondary schools, so that these trainers developed by them can implement work experience/SUPW programs in the school and also give non-formal technical training to out of school youth.
3. From among these non-formal trained youth, future trainers will be selected and developed by CP so that the number of such trainers increases exponentially.
4. The CP’s will be linked to the Agriculture extension services and Health services so as to make necessary inputs in these areas.
5. There will be a referral system, so that the CP’s and all the existing national science & technology establishments will become available to solve identified problems for research & development solutions.
6. A national information system will be organised under the scheme so that technical and economic information relevant to rural problems will be made easily available for the referral chain. The information network will also be able to identify the groups suitable for tackling the problems so that the challenge of the problem is matched by the talents of the R & D group.
Thus the above two schemes, the reorientation of the CP’s and the extension of the vocationisation to lower secondary schools on a national basis, can perfectly complement each other to mutual benefit.
To do this the following action will be necessary :
1. Bringing together the technical education group and the school education groups which at present, are separate both in the Maharashtra state and at the centre in MHRD
2. The schools where the program should be implemented on an experimental basis, through the State Education Department should be identified.
3. The criteria for this should be that they are located in rural areas in villages of less than 10,000 population. District and taluka headquarters should be excluded and preference should be given to those schools which are run by voluntary organisations, which have chains of schools in the rural areas.
4. The community should be made aware of the services that can be made available from such an educational system and should be asked to collect funds to cover the building and equipment costs estimated at (1992 prices) Rs. 40,000 for equipment and another 40,000 for the building and other infrastructure.
5. The schools should be started in those schools where the community provides these funds. The community should be involved in the setting up of the management of these technical sections in these schools. Our RTES project has shown that the community can easily collect this amount for such a purpose.
6. The CP’s should be involved in the purchase and installation of the equipment in the schools in their respective areas. For this purpose the operating area for each CP should be defined and as necessary more CP’s should be started in other areas in existing polytechnics.
7. As per the CP program, they will continue to supervise and give technical guidance to schools/village centres under their charge. It is possible that the CP’s should have a computer based data file on the progress of the work and also the costs and economics of the community services provided.
8. The CP’s will act as the nodal agency for the implementation of this rural development through the education system program.
Among the CP’s, in Maharashtra, there are a few, at least two, the SNDT Polytechnic and the Institute of Catering Technology and Hotel Management (formerly Food Crafts Institute) which are different from the others in terms of their technical subjects. Such polytechnics can be used to extend the topics of their specialisation to the rural area. For example the SNDT polytechnic has courses designed for girls and this will be very useful for the rural girls. We have already trained X std. rural girls for giving medical lab services and the SNDT CP can help train and supervise trainers for this and allied subjects. Eye problems are quite widespread and they might help train rural girls in opthalmological services.
Food preservation and making food products is also a skill that needs to be spread in the rural areas. This will help the farmer to realise a better price for his produce.
For training trainers, another approach possible is to make use of the national and state level open universities. For example, we are trying to persuade the Maharashtra Open University, to initiate a course in rural technology, both for instructors and lecturers. They have agreed in principle. Similarly we have suggested that IGNOU have a course in Diploma in Medical Lab Technology. If such a course is made available, school science teachers could take the training and they could be allowed to develop school laboratories at a nominal cost into pathological labs. Similarly school labs can give soil and water and agree-product analysis services to rural areas at nominal cost and with benefit to themselves and the education system.
There are a few issues that I am not decided on. One such issue is the method of evaluation of the students. Most school teachers believe that if there is no board examination, schools will not take the work experience program seriously. On the other hand, to organise practical exams for all secondary schools will not be a very easy task. Strictly, the community service should be a way of evaluating the quality of work experience given to students.
One alternative is for the CP’s to hold examinations for this subject only and give their own certificates. These will have a value for those who discontinue further studies. This issue needs to be discussed further. I do feel ideally that the community will judge the students, but in practice, a system of examination by any external body seems to be desirable. Thus far, I have given a plan for what has already been proposed and accepted in general by the relevant educational agencies. What follows is a “dream”, being attempted by me and yet to be proven.
We, at the Vigyan Ashram, are having a project called design library, in which we are making documents from tested technologies in a form such that they could be implemented at the school level workshops in the above program.
The designs chosen are such that the school technical section with its infrastructure, can make/ build facilities that will change the educational system, and also its own capability for making things. Thus the design will include on priority basis, those which provide for increasing the facilities for village schools, including classrooms, teaching aids, and sanitation and drinking water facilities for all schools and particularly primary schools. It will also give a priority for making more facilities by which it increases the capability of the school technical sections (including other schools) to produce equipment that it can use itself. (for example, welding machines, bench vices, power hacksaws, plane tables, survey kits etc.). In short the designs are for making capital assets through the school system, so that not only does the cost of development become less, but also the rate becomes exponential that is, it should have a multiplier effect on its own growth.
This concept of growth requires that the community provides the infrastructure, the government gives the teachers and provides for resources, and the system is designed for exponential spread. Such a system, has a built in evaluation system. The growth of the system or its demand by the community will be the true and most appropriate measure of the success of the system. The ministries of education as also the departments of rural development, both at the centre and the state levels will have a role to play. The voluntary agencies and the science and technology establishments, including the technical education colleges, universities as also the national laboratories will be appropriately linked to tap their technical expertise. The agriculture and health departments will find a convenient and ready made technical group for taking their extension work to the rural level at very little cost.
It would be appropriate to end this by giving my vision in a brief and crisp fashion. .Shri Lalit Mathur, DG, CAPART was responsible for persuading me to write down my vision. I found it was a worthwhile exercise to clarify one’s ideas.
I would like to see India prosper and be a path finder for the rest. This will happen only when everyone can reach his or her own full potential. Hence raise the lowest. Thus my stress on education of the rural youth. I believe intelligence is developed and not inherited. Activity-based thinking is the source of intelligence.
Good education has to be based on diverse experiences and for this real life is the best educator. In our society, we need to develop courage to act on our convictions and be willing to pay the price, many of us do not act on our own belief and we seem to be playacting all the time. We believe only in symbolic acts not acts for results.
I feel like an inventor. My invention is the educational system that integrates education and development, that is close to real everyday life and which costs so little to implement. My vision is that one day I will see this invention spread all over India in all the schools. My vision is that every village will have the equipment and the skills that are the basis of all modern industry; my invention will achieve this at a very low cost.
My vision is that youth coming out of this system, in villages all over will be handymen, who are at home with a variety of skills and can concretise their ideas, they are inventors at their level. My vision is that most rural sections will thus get access to most modern techniques and this will spur development from the grassroots and ultimately progress India into the new age. My vision is that India will one day be at the forefront of a new civilisation.. Now I have put my vision in black and white, as much as I can. But it is not possible to describe a vision in words. I hope I can show a glimpse of it in my own actions.
It is a multiskill training, linked to practical work something like the sandwich courses. This is a work bench approach. You can’t find a workbench in a rural area so you have created one in the school itself. Medical colleges are attached to a hospital. Your scheme is to attach a “mechanical hospital” to a school. This is a modern version of the old system of training through apprenticeship the same real life situations. I see in this a fusion of a new enterprise and a part time job.
If you provide facilities and skills in all of our villages, the communities are bound to use them. You have rightly selected the school to house it and thus linked it to education. This is the Nai Talim approach of linking education to some income, generating activity not for its income, but for real life education. You are providing subsidised workshops to all villages. The subsidy comes from linking it to school education. We have been saying – use industry facilities for vocational training. You have recessed it for rural areas, because there is no industry. You are using vocational facilities for industry. Either way the result is better utilisation of equipment and real life training.