A senior bureaucrat who currently holds a very influential position in the General Administration Department of Maharashtra state, Nand Kumar, has been working on a gigantic mission since 1993. He has been working towards providing international quality education to the children living in the remote areas of the country.
Want to know the reason?
Well, coming from a farmer’s family from a nondescript Nardaha village in Raipur, Kumar feels that if person like him with such a humble background can make it to the country’s most prestigious government job, what Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is all about, then why can’t other children living in rural areas can make it through their education in government-run schools there.
Q. What is your mission in life?
My aim is to see every child in India should get internationally best quality of education. I have myself come from a remote village in Raipur. My only submission is if I can crack the civil services exam despite having a humble family background, then why can’t other children living in remote areas can prove their mettle. That is why I started working on the mission way back since 1993 itself.
Q. Please tell me about your achievements in the mission so far.
A. Well. I’ve got a cumulative experience of working in the field of education of 28 years as of now. I have worked as Education Secretary for seven and a half years. This includes my working as a State Education Secretary in Chhattisgarh (2007-10) followed by my tenure as Maharashtra State Education Secretary for four years (2015-2018).
I had brought a quality improvement programme called Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra in the education system in the state during my tenure as education secretary results of which are visible in the latest round (2018) of ASER (Annual Status of Education Report), a third party assessment. The biggest achievement of the program is that in Grade-five an additional 12% (about 2,40,000 students annually) are able to solve division problems and an additional 14.3% (about 2,86,000 students annually) are able to read.
These improvements are the highest anywhere in India. If we consider the aggregate figure of students able to do subtraction and division at Grade-five level then the improvement is 21% in Maharashtra compared to 2 to 3.5 percents in many other prominent states. Maharashtra is the only state where state-run schools are doing better than that of private schools. This has also resulted in trend reversal of enrollment of students from reduction to increase in government run schools and vise versa in privately run schools.
Q. What is your view about existing educational system in the country?
Whatever so-called educational system we are providing to our kids today is not enough as it not preparing them for world of their lives. In fact, our quality of education is poor.
Q. What is the innovation brought by you in the education system?
While serving as education secretary in Maharashtra, I was sent to attend a five-day workshop on study of different education systems in Cambridge. On my return, I was instrumental in the setting up of Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB) in 2016. The idea was that we can provide internationally best quality education to our kids that too while teaching them in Indian languages.
Q. What is the advantage of having such an educational system?
Parents can realise their dream of providing international quality education to their kids without any additional cost and even without having English medium. The kids, on completion of their education in these schools, become eligible to get jobs globally.
Q. What is the progress on that front so far?
In Maharashtra state, the government has already started 13 such schools so far. Besides, 65 more government-owned schools have been selected for introduction of the new education system across state. The target is to have 500 such schools in place over a period of three years to begin with and then slowly reaching to 100 percent implementation of this education system in the entire state in future. Parallely, Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra programme is implemented in the education system in 1,11,000 schools and which enrols include 2.30 crore students.
Q. What differentiates these schools from other schools?
You can see the students of the MIEB schools busy in the making of robots and drones. Moreover, even as these students pursue study in Marathi medium, you can talk to them in English.
Q. Have these schools started attracting children?
In a Pune school, located at Wablewadi in Shirur taluka, we have got one such school. In Wable Wadi where 540 students are currently undergoing study under MIEB board. Still, 3,000 more students are waiting to get admitted. Generally, such waiting list for government schools are not heard of. This shows the ever increasing popularity of these schools.