‘A new world of education will be seen in the forthcoming years’, says BMC Education Officer, Mahesh Palkar

In 2020, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools created history with pass percentage of SSC standing at 93.25 compared to 2019’s 53.14 per cent. FPJ caught up with Mahesh Palkar, BMC Education Officer, the man behind this achievement, and the one who is bringing in several education reforms in BMC schools.

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Saturday, March 20, 2021, 09:57 AM IST

Q.1 Last year, BMC schools created history by securing a 93.25 pass percentage. What’s the success story behind this?

Under section 61(a) of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act 1888, it is the responsibility of the corporation to impart primary education to all students within the municipal limits. Accordingly, 216450 students are imparted education through 8 medium in total 963 Municipal primary schools. On the demand of public representatives that the students are not deprived of education after completing their primary education, presently 41386 students are imparted education through 8 mediums in 49 government-aided schools and 175 Municipal aided schools, totalling 224 Municipal schools.

Out of the 13637 students of municipal secondary schools who appeared for S.S.C March 2020 examination, 12716 students have passed the examination recording total 90 3.25% result of the municipal corporation. For this, a 10-point program was implemented as per the suggestions received from Smt. Anjali tai Naik, then Hon. Education Committee Chairman and all other committee members and under the guidance of Hon. Jt. MC ( Education) Shri Ashutosh Salil Sir.

1. In the year 2018-19 there was comparable increase in the result of Ghatla Municipal Secondary School and other secondary schools. The remedial measures adopted by them were introduced in other schools as an ideal to encourage them.

2. To complete teaching – learning process by October 2019: The teaching of Std 10th syllabus was started from 1st to 30th April 2019 and continued again from 1st June 2019. Similarly the students were additionally guided by organising extra lectures daily and the teaching - learning process was completed in October 2019.

3. Weekly tests : Subject wise and lesson wise small weekly test were conducted at school level and (the papers) were duly checked

4. Setting up a committee for increasing result: A committee for improving the S.S.C result was established through the participation of expert subject teachers and through them workshops were organised for other teachers. Also 10 question papers were set up for practice by this committee. Due to the change in the assessment system, training of the subject teachers was also undertaken and completed.

5. Student Adoption Scheme/ School Adoption Scheme was implemented

a. Student Adoption Scheme: To increase the affiliation and cooperation between primary and secondary schools, efforts were made to include secondary and primary teachers in the student adoption scheme.

b. School adoption scheme : All ward inspectors were assigned schools that they were to adopt and accordingly regular visits by them , parents meeting, lectures by experts were arranged.

6. 10 practice tests were conducted : 5 prelim test by referring (textbooks ) and 5 prelim test without referring (textbooks) were conducted.

7. Parents Meeting : After taking into consideration the marks obtained by students in every prelim test the (parents ) meetings were conducted for informing and giving guidance for the students progress.

8. Continuous contact and communications were maintained with students and with their parents through WhatsApp groups.

9. The head teachers were guided through meeting from time to time. Morale boosting workshops were conducted for them.

10. Mass workshops were conducted zone wise and ward wise through the expert teachers for those students who scored less percentage in the practice examinations or the subjects in which they have secured less than 30% marks.

Q.2 What more reforms are you planning on introducing in civic run schools?

We are planning to –

i) Introduce more CBSE & ICSE schools run by MCGM. As on today started with 11 CBSE & 01 ICSE school.

ii) Starting with concept of Mini Balwadi and gradually based on the needs, all schools will be run from Balwadi to Standard 10.

iii) Focusing on ground up-gradation and sports.

Q.3 Why are CBSE and ISCE syllabus being introduced in civic run schools? What was the thought behind this move?

As per the provision of MMC Act 1888, MCGM is running primary schools as an obligatory duty with the limit of MCGM and free of cost. In addition to that, MCGM is also running some secondary schools with the help of Maharashtra Govt. further MCGM has adopted policy running English medium school for economically weaker section under PPP Model observing the trend of Society.

For the overall development of students, MCGM organises no. of activities which is yields into physical, mental quality development of students. This helps weaker section to upgrade their living standard. Now a days, it has been observed that parent from economically weaker section are also enrolling their ward into CBSE, ICSE board even though it is not affordable to them. The motive behind that is to survive in a globalization and for bright future.

Considering the same, MCGM has introduced syllabus of CBSE and ICSE in civic schools.

Q.4 Amid the pandemic situation, and the whole online schooling trend, how do you plan to replicate last year’s success of 93.25% pass percentage?

During current academic year it is aimed to achieve 100% S.S.C results of the Municipal Secondary schools. At least 1,000 student should secure 90% and above marks. After considering the situation arisen due to Corona pandemic a 10 point programme is drawn to achieve the above objectives as mentioned below:

1. Completion of teaching and learning process up to November 2020 : Online and Offline teaching has been completed by creating alternative educational calendar (ACC ). Similarly students are being guided by creating state level Zoom and YouTube channels. Worksheets are prepared on the portion taught and are solved by the students and checked every month by the teachers

2. Adoption scheme : Directives have been issued by a circular number IEO /OD / 227 dated 17. 09 2020

1. School adoption scheme: All Municipal secondary schools are adopted by school inspectors and subject experts ward-wise and they are reviewed and guided by online and offline visits.

2. Student adoption scheme: The students lacking in studies are adopted by all school teachers to make necessary preparation so as to facilitate them to pass the exam easily.

3. Regular weekly test and marking : 10/ 15/ 20/ 25 marks online - offline weekly exams are prepared. Subject wise and lesson wise question bank of short answers and objective questions are conducted and noting are kept at school level

4. Group- wise guidance to the students:

(1) Those passing easily with good marks: To make efforts to increase their percentage.

(2) Those passing and borderline: To make efforts to facilitate them to pass easily.

(3) For those who have to take special efforts to pass: To prepare for exams by giving extra time

5. Mission 35 scheme: In order that every student gets at least 35 marks out of 80 in each subject , very easy and selected portions have been made into small tests, books printed and the same are distributed as also solved by the students and assessed by the teachers.

6. Establishing a subject wise S.S.C result increasing / improvement committee : A subject wise S.S.C result increasing/ improvement committee is established, comprising of teachers who are willing to work after managing time post the own school work. The contribution of this committee is taken in two important works:

1) To organise subject wise teacher's workshop.

2) To prepare 10 practice question paper sets as per the board pattern.

In addition to the abovementioned the services of the expert teachers were also utilised on alternate calendar( ACC), selective particulars in Mission 35 books, worksheets, state level online lesson periods on Zoom and YouTube.

7. Organisation of 10 practice examinations: Due to closure of schools because of Corona and in order that the students get practice writing from the month of Jan 2021, 5 question papers are being solved by students at school level. After opening schools on regular basis and as per a common time table, 5 question papers are to be solved (by students) and the same are to be assessed and the notes of marks are to be maintained.

8. Common thinking Meets: After conducting common thinking meetings from time to time, make planning and efforts to conduct :

1) School Management Development Committee : At least once in a month

2) Head teachers, Teachers meeting: once in a week

3) Parent- Teachers -Head teachers / Students- Teachers- Head teacher : At least on once in a month

4) Education officer-Head teacher- officers of adopted schools: At least once in a month

9. Special lecture series : To organise special lectures under the special guidance of moderators of the S.S.C board and subject experts

10. Motivational program and prices :

1. To organise motivational workshops at school level and secondary school, ward level for students, teachers, Head- teachers, parents and also officers

2. To give appreciation letter to every teacher and select teachers for awards at various levels for doing exceptional work .

3. Grant of prices to schools and students taking special efforts to increase the S.S.C results.

3.1. To each student who achieves a result of 95% and more- Rs 25000/-

3.2. To each School achieving result of 90% - 94.99% - Rs 20000/-

3.3. To each school achieving a result of 85% - 89.99%- Rs 15000/-

3.4. To each student securing 90% and above marks - Rs 5000/-

3.5. To the first 25 students from the municipal schools for further education every year of the next 5 years

3.6. At least Rs 25000/- each as their education fee , if the same is more than the sum of Rs 25000/- , then the full amount.

Q.5 How did you manage to overcome the challenges the pandemic brought on when it comes to online schooling?

Due to the pandemic, lockdown was imposed from 23rd of March 2020.The main challenge was to spread the awareness and the safety measures among the students and the parents. So our teachers started contacting parents through Whatsapp group or individual call and guided them as per the guidelines from the government.

From the education point of view, since by that time, we had completed the curriculum for the academic year and all the teachers had record of continuous comprehensive evaluation of each student of their class, the students needed more support from the teacher were guided online accordingly.

We anticipated the scenario to be faced on the next academic year that is 2020-21, and started preparing Headmasters and the Teachers for the online teaching learning process. We worked together with various renowned organizations and NGOs to train our teachers from technical as well as academic point of view for the online teaching. Some of the teachers who were well confident and experienced with the online conferencing technology were made available to support the other teachers to prepare the e-content and to deliver the live sessions.

Alternate academic calendar of the entire medium for all the classes were prepared by some of the brilliant teachers, wherein the detailed weekly planning was presented. This was the guideline for the teachers. More than 10% of the teachers were deployed for the support of health department as per the order of Honorable Commissioner.

After seeing the efforts put into the online education, Honorable Additional Chief Secretary (Education) issued an order to avail the facility of online education to the deprived students of other districts of Maharashtra as well. So in compliance to this we started online classes for the students of Marathi, Hindi, English and Urdu medium through Zoom app. Each period is recorded and is published/ uploaded on YouTube channel.

The major challenge was to connect the students who are unable to get the benefit of online/ offline classes because of various reasons. For such students, we initiated programs called Balak Mitra, Palak Mitra & Shikshak Mitra through which the volunteers from the students, parents and teachers used to go to the home of the deprived students and guide them as per their need. For this, some of the NGOs also supported us.

To assess the learning outcome, we have been distributing worksheets to all the students whoever is available. So, in nutshell we can say that we accepted the challenges as opportunity and made worth use of the technology and resources to its maximum limit to let the students be connected in the flow of education.

Q.6 Any plans of introducing reforms related to online schooling for BMC run schools?

I think, the time has taught us a lot, especially to get professionally adopted in the extreme situation like a corona pandemic. Actually, in Education Department of MCGM, the average age of the teacher is between 43 to 45, and it is generally understood that this age group will find difficult to understand the new technology of online teaching, preparing e-content, inculcating skill of delivering online quality lecture, online assessment etc. After observing the result & dedication of the teachers, we had to change the perception.

We have great plan for the future education. These qualities of teachers will be used in future as well. National Education Policy 2020 is going to be implemented phase wise throughout the country very soon, wherein the use of modern technology is very much emphasized. I think totally new world of education will be seen in forthcoming years.

Q.7 Of late, many parents are opting to send their kids to private schools or non SSC schools. And SSC schools are not being considered for those who can’t afford to send their kids to other board run schools. What do you think, as an education officer, SSC schools need to improve?

Opting to send their kids to private schools/ non SSC board schools/ SSC schools is the decision of parents which cannot be controlled by Education Department but it is the duty of MCGM to fulfil the need of Society and in present, the trend of society is to opt education from CBSE, ICSE Board to get high position in a globalization and capture bright future.

Further, it is to state that MCGM is also taking measures to improve SSC board schools by starting bilingual schools, wherein the vernacular students are taught higher level English Subject syllabus. Also planning to implement standard wise CBSE science and maths syllabus , SSC board schools at state level. Also emphasis given on skill based Education.

Q.8. What is the message you would like to convey to yours students and teachers as an education officers?

As you know the students are real soul of the education department. I would like to convey the message that,

“The whole system i.e. Governments and Administrators are taking care of your bright future not only to enable you to pace with the world but also to lead it.

Accordingly, after understanding and analysing the best education system being adopted worldwide and deciding the most appropriate system needed to be adopted here, Government of India has announced National Education Policy 2020 to revamp all aspects of the education structure, wherein the student’s personality will be developed as per their potentiality to the full extent. Conceptual understanding, critical thinking, creativity, multidisciplinary and holistic education are the major factors of the policy.”

The message for the Teachers would be “Develop youself as a facilitator & keep on exploring various innovative methods & tools of effective teaching and learning process.”

“Please follow the guidelines of government to remain safe in this pandemic.”

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