QUESTION : “Why are government schools not the first choice in India” Justify this statement by giving effective ways to overcome this issue.
The Hindu Ediitorial Topic : WHY ARE GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS NOT THE FIRST CHOICE ?
Govt. Schools In India
WHY IN NEWS ?
The public education system is the primary option for millions of students in India. These institutions have become more important as the pandemic takes a toll on the economy, putting fee-charging schools beyond the reach of many and forcing thousands to move to government schools.
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS IN INDIA :
- There are different kinds of government schools: there are Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), which are very well-resourced, with good infrastructure and good teachers.
- There are Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, which are islands of excellence and competitively looked at for admissions.
- There are residential schools run by different State governments which are again well-resourced, have good infrastructure, spacious classrooms.
- Then, there are other model schools. We also have municipal schools and the typical government schools run by the different Zilla Panchayats, which are not always as well resourced but often tend to get the poorer students.
GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES :
- Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education. This is stated as per the 86th Constitution Amendment Act via Article 21A. The Right to Education Act seeks to give effect to this amendment
o The RTE has contributed tremendously in filling govt. Schools’ enrolments and in making education accessible to children who would otherwise have been at risk of slipping out or being pushed out of the education system and into situations like child labour or child marriage.
- Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme: Under the MDM scheme, one meal is provided to all children enrolled in government schools, local body schools, government-aided schools, special training centres (STC), maktabs and madrasas supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Cooked meals are provided to every child enrolled and attaining school from six to fourteen years. Meals are provided to children studying in Class I to VIII.
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – Launched in 2001 with an aim to promote ‘Education for All’, strengthening the existing infrastructure of schools and construction of new schools. To know in details about the SSA visit the linked article.
- Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan – It is a flagship scheme aiming at enhancing secondary education and increasing the enrolment rate by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of every home.
- Scheme for Infrastructure Development in Minority Institutes – The scheme would facilitate education of minorities by augmenting and strengthening school infrastructure in Minority Institutions in order to expand facilities for formal education to children of minority communities.
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao – The scheme to promote girl child education in India. Visit the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana page to know more about the BBBP campaign.
- Structural issues:We should also look at the basic safety, well-being and hygiene factors in these schools. There is some work that should be done in improving pedagogy, teacher development, the level of community participation, the parent committees, etc.
- Local variations: Some areas may have a higher tribal population or different kinds of local issues that need to be addressed.
- Bias against government schools: People feel there are not enough teachers in these schools, or the schools may not be functioning regularly. They get carried away by the notions of a branded private school.
- Poor implementation of RTE: Barely 15% of the schools can be called as compliant with the RTE. That is also a reason why children are being pushed out.
o Section 29 of the RTE explains what kind of education every child has a right to.
o It talks about discovery and activities which are child-centred. And on developing the potential of every child, not calling them ‘slow learners’, not testing them in a centralised way. There is no school complying with that, including elite schools.
- English is seen as aspirational, which is fine, but for it to become the medium of instruction would cut away a child from what she already knows, such as concepts.
o Education in the mother tongue in the primary years helps a child build on prior knowledge and concepts.
- The net enrolment falls sharply beyond the primary level: The fact that there is a drop in net enrolment from primary to secondary should be viewed with concern. We need to understand the obstacles: transportation, location, etc., which may be preventing teenagers, especially girls, from accessing secondary education.
- The work of a government school teacher: There’s a lot more that we need to do in terms of empowering school leaders, school heads, school communities, the entire teaching community, as well as the non-teaching community.
- Teachers’ professional development: Even students who do a four-year B.El.Ed course and start teaching feel the in-service training they later get is quite dismal.
o We don’t find investment in terms of resources or in the planning of institutes.
o Now, 95% of teacher education is in private hands and most of it is substandard. Even today, almost half the regular teacher vacancies are filled by guest or ad hoc teachers.
- Centralisation: We have a priority area like a National Testing Agency. Why do we have something at the national level which decides what should happen at the local level? It should be more decentralised.
- Curriculum renewal: Some states are creatively assessing children, which other States had not done.
WAY FORWARD :
- We should make a micro plan for every school, a larger plan for schools at the district level, and then at the State level.
- Basic needs like— drinking water, rainwater harvesting, school gardens, dining areas — need to be taken up before improving levels of learning and teaching.
- The role of local bodies should be enhanced. Local bodies can take ownership, and school development committees can be linked with elected local bodies, so they can support the needs of schools.
- Social equity: It’s important that the public education system becomes a common school system.
o A KV has a small percentage of children coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. The notions of equity are more rooted there.
- We also need to create better professional networks for teachers, because the best teachers continuously learn from each other.
Improving the infrastructure of government schools and giving the qualitative education will make them more attractive.
QUESTION : Discuss why are floods cause of worry for India and Nepal and steps to be taken in flood management so that loss could be minimized ?
The Hindu Editorial Topic : INDIA-NEPAL FLOOD MANAGEMENT NEEDS COURSE CORRECTION
Indo-Nepal Flood Management
WHY IN NEWS ?
Nitish Kumar should be credited for bringing ‘disaster management’ into the popular imagination in Bihar.
- Unlike the indifference shown by Kathmandu on matters of floods and water management in recent years, the history of cooperation between India and Nepal for embankments starting in the 1950s is worth looking at.
- When work on the Kosi embankments started in January 1955, a group of retired Nepali soldiers came over voluntarily to join hands with Indian volunteers and start the work.
o Such a progressive government-citizen interface could not sustain itself and water cooperation between the two countries for a common cause waned.
o Consequently, not much has happened barring the use of water resources for hydroelectric generation.
MORE ABOUT TO KNOW :
- In his early days as Bihar Chief Minister (2005-2010), he made a few noticeable structural changes, with renewed approaches in infrastructure augmentation for dams and reservoirs, detention basins, embankments and channel improvement.
- Non-structural measures were also adopted in later years such as floodplain management, flood forecasting and warning, flood insurance and financial compensation.
- However, despite the efforts made on the ground, people continue to suffer from perennial flooding in north Bihar (the Mithilanchal region).
- Already facing a humanitarian crisis of sorts following the novel coronavirus pandemic, this year’s extra rainfall and floods have been a moment of reckoning.
- Unfortunately, this chronic issue which is making over five crore people of the north Bihar in India and Tarai in Nepal so vulnerable, does not seem to get the attention it deserves by policymakers on both sides of the border.
- This year, in May, Bihar’s Disaster Management Department released two documents titled: “Pre-Flood Preparedness” and “Flood Control Order 2021”.
o The aim was to help the local administration in terms of preparedness and having in place a relief support system.
o However, a solution to the issue of chronic flooding lies in revisiting the old plans and arrangements between India and Nepal. This is because flood control in Bihar is just not possible till a dedicated intergovernmental panel is formed through a bilateral mechanism between India and Nepal, that in turn can study, assess and offer solutions to this shared crisis.
FUNDAMENTALS OF FLOODING ?
- Historically, Bihar has been known to be India’s most flood-prone State. The Flood Management Improvement Support Centre (FMISC), Department of Water Resources, Government of Bihar estimates that 76% of the population in north Bihar faces the recurring threat of flood devastation.
- A large part of north Bihar, adjoining Nepal, is drained by a number of rivers that have their catchments in the steep and geologically nascent Himalayas.
- Originating in Nepal, the high discharge and sediment load in the Kosi, Gandak, Burhi Gandak, Bagmati, Kamla Balan, Mahananda and Adhwara Group wreak havoc in the plains of Nepal’s Tarai and Bihar. As per FMISC, “About 65% of the catchment area of these rivers falls in Nepal/Tibet and only 35% of the catchment area lies in Bihar.
- Earlier, without so many artificial barriers, the flow of water used to aid farming in the region.
- The Kosi Treaty of 1954, under which the embankments in Nepal were established and maintained, was not futuristic and did not make enough provisions for the maintenance of embankments and the rivers changing their course. The deposition of stones, sand, silt and sediment has led to river beds rising, changing course and causing unimaginable losses. Between the mid-18th and mid-20th centuries, the Kosi is said to have shifted over 100 kilometres westward, resulting in large-scale human displacements
ABOUT KOSI RIVER :
- The Kosi is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, Nepal and India.
- The river crosses into northern Bihar, India where it branches into distributaries before joining the Ganges near Kursela in Katihar district.
- Its unstable nature has been attributed to course changes and the heavy silt it carries during the monsoon season, and flooding in India has extreme effects.
- It is also known as the “Sorrow of Bihar” as the annual floods affect about 21,000 km2 of fertile agricultural lands thereby disturbing the rural economy.
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE INCREASE IN FLOODS :
Climate Change: According to the International Panel For Climate Change (IPCC), the rainfall intensity, duration and frequency are going to increase in the future.
o Also, incidence of cyclonic circulations and cloud bursts that cause flash floods are increasing due to Climate change.
Skewed Rainfall Pattern: 80% of the precipitation takes place in the monsoon months from June to September. During this time, the rivers bring heavy sediment load from the catchments.
o These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of the rivers and drainage congestion and erosion of river-banks are responsible for causing floods.
Trans-National Rivers: The fact that some of the rivers (like Brahmaputra, many tributaries of Ganga) causing damage in India originate in neighboring countries, adds another complex dimension to the problem.
o Also, sudden change in topography from high mountains to plain areas, is also a reason for floods in northern India.
Earthquakes: An Earthquake Disaster Risk Index (EDRI), prepared by the NDMA showed that about 56% area of India is vulnerable to moderate to major earthquakes.
o As many of the river basins in India lie in earthquake-prone areas, the course of the river is not stable and amounts to flooding.
Unplanned Development: Unplanned development, encroachments in riparian zones, failure of flood control structures, unplanned reservoir operations, poor drainage infrastructure, deforestation, land use change and sedimentation in river beds are exacerbating floods.
o When rainfall is heavy, the river breaches the embankments and destroys habitations along the banks and on the sandbars.
Urban Flooding: Flooding in the cities and the towns is a recent phenomenon caused by increasing incidence of heavy rainfall in a short period of time.
o The reason for this is indiscriminate encroachment of waterways and wetlands, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure.
o Apart from it, poor waste management is exacerbating the problem by blocking drains, canals and lakes, while ill-planned road projects are cutting off flood flows.
Neglect of Pre-Disaster Planning: History of flood management shows that focus of disaster management has largely been on post-flood recovery and relief.
o Many reservoirs and Hydro-electric plants do not have enough gauging stations for measurement of flood level, which is the principal component for flood prediction and forecast.
MEASURES TO PREVENT URBAN FLOODING :
- Need for Climate Resilient Infrastructure
Given the unprecedented rate of climate change-related severe disaster in recent times, urban areas must have a climate-resilient infrastructure.
According to UN projections, by 2050 more than 68% of the world’s population could be concentrated in urban areas.
Additionally, daily life in urban areas is highly dependent on certain critical services and products provided by critical infrastructures (CIs).
Therefore, it is especially relevant to understand how Climate Change affects urban CIs in order to develop mechanisms to improve their capacity to handle crises derived from CC.
In this context, resilience-based strategies provide a holistic approach, considering both predictable and unpredictable threats.
Innovative approaches like Sponge Cities- wetland restoration, flushing systems using collected rooftop water, bioswales, and public spaces as flexible water retention facilities can be applied to Indian urban areas.
Other such methods include permeable material for roads and pavement, green roofs and harvesting systems in buildings.
- Early Warning Systems and Communication
Dissemination of flood warnings must be carried out, using a wide range of latest technologies.
This would help in giving real-time data where traditional systems fail.
Tools such as predictive precipitation modelling can help do that and are also able to link it with the adaptive capacity of urban land use.
- Design and Management of Urban Drainage System
Watershed management and emergency drainage plan should be clearly enunciated in policy and law.
Proper management of the drainage system is necessary to ensure that the water does not get stored in one place.
Solid waste increases hydraulic roughness, causes blockage and generally reduces flow capacity.
These drains need to be cleaned on a regular basis to permit the free flow of water.
Vulnerability analyses and risk assessments should form part and parcel of city master plans.
- Rainwater Harvesting
Due to urbanization, groundwater recharge has decreased and the peak runoff from rainfall and consequent flooding has increased.
It will serve the twin purposes of lowering the peak runoff and raising the groundwater table.
Many municipal corporations in India have already made rainwater harvesting compulsory.
- Conservation of Water Bodies
Urban water bodies like lakes, tanks, and ponds also play a very important role in the management of urban flooding by reducing the stormwater run-off by capturing it.
- Role of Science and Technology
The management of urban flooding has to be treated holistically in a multi-disciplinary manner.
Science and technology can play a significant role in improved monitoring, modelling/ forecasting, and decision-support systems.
One method for improving the preparedness for urban flooding is by setting up a vulnerability-based geospatial framework to generate and analyze different scenarios.
It helps in identifying and planning for the most effective/ appropriate actions in a dynamic way to incorporate day-to-day changes that take place in urban areas, having the potential to alter the prevailing vulnerability profile.
WAY FORWARD :
- As early as in 1937, the transition from the traditional method of flood control to the embankment-based British system was thought out. To control the floodwater at Barahakshetra in Nepal, a high dam was thus planned and finally built after the devastating Kosi flood in 1953.
- Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the flood-affected areas in 1953 and announced a visionary Kosi scheme for the safe resettlement of the affected people.
- In the mainstream political and policy establishments, greater attention needs to be given to this annual calamity and its devastating effects on lives and livelihoods.
- India and Nepal need to be in dialogue to end the crisis of flooding every year. With a long-term strategy of water management cooperation between India and Nepal, the matter should be looked into.
Trans-boundary cooperation is essential for developing a relationship of trust and a common understanding to work towards managing floods, especially in downstream areas of Nepal and India. Potential actions for transboundary flood management between Nepal and India are recommended to enhance the resilience of communities and river basins