Attainment of quality education is a challenge, and SMCs have a major role to play in providing timely inputs to improve the working of the school education system at the ground-root levels. However, the functioning of the SMCs has various challenges and holds us back from achieving this vision and requires proper monitoring framework and implementation - research to highlight the potential existing gaps in the school education system. The objectives of the study were designed to keep Sustainable Development Goal-4 central to its core, which focuses on quality education. This goal clearly ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes life-long learning opportunities for all. The Goal reminds us of the moral imperative to ensure every child has a right to an appropriate education of high quality.
The focus of this study has been elementary school education in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) dominated areas. There is an important concern over the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009 in the school system with reference to the special training or instructions, its modalities, and execution. The SMCs are primarily composed of parents, teachers, head teachers, and local authorities. Active parental participation has the potential to improve the efficiency of a school as parents have the highest incentive to demand a better quality of education for their children. The RTE Act, 2009 stipulates that SMCs should:
1. Monitor the working of the school (midday meal provision, toilet facilities, teacher attendance, etc.)
2. Monitor the utilization of grants received from the appropriate government, local authority, or any other source
3. Prepare and recommend the annual and three-year School Development Plan (SDP), which addresses infrastructure and academic achievement etc. These plans should collectively feed into creating an Annual Work Plan (AWP) for every district, and subsequently, every State.
4. As per the new proposed national education policy ensuring participation and learning through monitoring students’ attendance in school, and tracking out-of-school children, involvement in setting up school culture, which encourages excellence, curiosity, empathy, and equity, sensitization of SMCs on caring and inclusive school culture on a continuing basis and
endorsement by the SMCs on periodic (annual or higher frequency) performance appraisal of teachers vis-a-vis an efficient resourcing and effective governance through the ‘School Complexes Management Committee (SCMC), and involvement in nurturing the culture of planning, both short-term and long-term ones, for the school including human resources, learning resources, physical resources and infrastructure, improvement initiatives, financial resources, and educational outcomes.
This program had a strong component of community mobilization. A large number of volunteers was prepared and the State Resource Centre developed literacy material and training courses for these volunteer instructors. Minimum Levels of Learning (1989) were an attempt to ensure parity and the same standards in all the schools of the country. Accordingly, the textbooks were revised and appropriate pedagogy was propagated for teaching with their help. Now NCERT has come out with a set of learning outcomes not only for the primary stage but for the whole elementary stage of education to address the issues of quality and equal achievement on the part of learners. The contribution of the community in the boundary wall and main gate, and availability of safe drinking water was below average. The main source of availability of water was either tap water, or water tank in the schools, and this caused serious concern about the usefulness of the toilet facilities in the schools. On the other hand, the availability of toilet facilities for the CWSN was either negligible or very poor, causing a violation of the Government guidelines in this regard. Schools and the main reason appeared to be the GOI programme on Swachhata Abhiyaan in the schools. As far as the contribution by the community was concerned to the various parameters of availability of toilets, that too was very poor, and could not be considered a matter of satisfactory effort by the community.
It was also a matter of appreciation that the community had provided additional teaching and non-teaching staff. Female teachers were responding most of the teachers were belonging to the ST social category. Few teachers reported that they were getting help from the community as far as the implementation of CCE in schools was concerned. The teachers had reported that PTR as prescribed under relevant statutory norms was followed in nearly 60% of schools. The details of community support were explained by the teachers, such as, support was not provided by the community on the counts that additional teachers were required due to the high rate of enrolment, and on this issue, community support was always required.
The present research report explores about contribution and challenges of the community on the quality education at the elementary level in context to the provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, but also rigorously studies the present existing practices and conditions in the elementary level schools of the Bhoirymbong Block spread over nine clusters of Ribhoi District of Meghalaya State, whose stakeholders were approached in this regard. The key recommendations of this report are as follows:
1. There is a dire requirement to inform and involve the community with regard to their role in their child’s education and the minimum institutional facilities they are entitled to receive and should understand their rights to demand from the school authorities.
2. School Management should be closely monitored by the State and should make rightful advancements as per the need.
3. There should be a centralized system to develop a monitoring framework to keep a check on the working of SMC and should be catalyzed for the benefit of the child’s utmost care and education.
4. From an implementation research perspective, it is highly recommended to evaluate the pupil-teacher ratio at scale to understand the issue further in the country.
5. Further, there is a need to compare and analyze how poor facilities can hamper the quality of education, affecting the youth in later years to contribute to the economy.
6. While most surveys tend to capture the learning levels of children from time to time, it’s high time to re-visit the school system and make informed research-based required modifications.
7. Organizing intensive orientation and awareness programmes for the community
members in a decentralized manner on the role and functions of SMC members, monitoring practices, achieving learning outcomes for children in the schools, etc., and should be made a regular practice and replicated from time to time in a specified schedule.
Surprisingly, it was reported that un-aided and private schools follow a completely different trend of school management of through SMC, which exercise monitoring and financial powers. A separate SMC is being constituted - including all segments of society and is not dominated by the ST community in some cases, deflecting from the Government norms, thereby not fulfilling the norms under RTE Act, 2009 and improper reporting was being practiced by such schools as well.