In Maharashtra, around 20 million students pursue education in 75,466 primary, 19,676 secondary and 7241 higher secondary schools. Textbooks and midday meals are provided free of cost to 12 million students in the State. Primary education is mainly imparted by local self-government schools in the State while private aided and unaided schools offer secondary and higher secondary education.
The jurisdiction of the school education ministry is vast and it is gearing up to face many challenges like implementation of the right of children to free and compulsory education, making available infrastructure facilities to schools, need for suitable changes in syllabi considering the broadening horizons of knowledge and challenges of future, imparting qualitative training to teachers and using modern technology in education.
Keeping these challenges in mind, the ministry took following steps in the last one year:
1.Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Fee Regulation) Act 2011:
The Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Fee Regulation) Act 2011 has been passed unanimously in both the Houses of the Legislature with the broad aim of preventing institutions from charging unreasonable fees in the pre-primary, primary, secondary & higher secondary schools and in teacher training colleges; and also to prevent the commercialization of education and safeguard the interests of students and parents.
2. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009,Rules:
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 came into force throughout the country from April 1, 2010. In order to implement this Act effectively in the State, Rules have been framed and notified in the Gazette on October 11, 2011.
3. School mapping for sanctioning new schools (Master Plan):
In order to make available a primary school within one kilometer range, an upper primary school within three kilometers and a secondary school within five kilometers, school mapping (except for English medium schools) has been carried out with the help of the Geographical Information System for effective implementation of the RTE.
4. Increase in the Honorarium of Shikshan Sevaks and change in their designation:
State Government has appointed Shikshan Sevaks instead of regular teachers in primary, secondary and higher secondary schools from April 17, 2000 on the honorarium of Rs 3000/-, Rs 4000/- and Rs 5000/- respectively. Since the introduction of the scheme in 2000, honorarium amounts had not been increased. There was a very strong demand from the elected representative as well as teachers for a hike. Therefore, it was decided in the State Cabinet meeting held on September 7, 2011 to revise the honorarium of Shikshan Sevaks to Rs 6000/-, Rs 8000/- and Rs 9000/- respectively. It has also been decided to change the designation Shikshan Sevak to Assistant Teacher (Probationary).
5. Appointment as regular teachers in secondary schools to 'Shikshan Sevaks' upgrading from primary to secondary section:
It has been decided on 15.09.2011 that in case a Shikshan Sevak working with a primary school is reappointed to secondary, higher secondary school or elsewhere as a regular teacher after completion of three years' service as a Shikshan Sevak in the primary section, the appointment will be to the post of a regular teacher and not as Shikshan Sevak again. Thus, a teacher will be Shikshan Sevak only once during his tenure.
6. Old Pension Scheme for 'Shikshan Sevaks':
The State Government decided to apply the revised Contributory Pension Scheme to all officers and employees of the State appointed after November 2005. Teachers appointed before November 2005 and working as Shikshan Sevaks were not regular teachers and therefore they were not given the benefit of the old Pension Scheme which is applicable to the Government employees. An important decision has been taken to apply the old Pension Scheme for them, in consideration of their demand.
7. Approval for the assessment of 5000 schools: There are nearly 5000 primary & secondary schools (except English Medium Schools) in the State being run by private institutions
on permanent non-grant basis. For implementation of the RTE in the true spirit, State Cabinet on October 12, 2011 approved the criteria of assessment for eligibility of these schools for getting grants.
8. Sanctioning Marathi Schools in the border areas of the State:
In some border areas of the State, there are villages where Kannad medium schools are being run, but facility of Marathi Medium is not available. Therefore, it has been decided to sanction 101 primary schools and 17 secondary schools in these areas to facilitate education in Marathi medium.
9. Copy-mukta Abhiyan:
The 'Copy Mukta Abhiyan' was successfully carried out in the State in coordination with the Revenue and Home Departments to prevent mal practices in the 10th and 12th Standard examinations and also to achieve qualitative improvement in education. The campaign was highly appreciated by parents.
10. Announcement of timetable for the 10th and the 12th Standard Examinations at the beginning of the academic year:
The 10th and the 12th standard examinations are important stages in the students' academic career. This year, the timetable for these examinations was announced right at the beginning of the academic year, so that students can plan their study systematically. This practice will continue henceforth.
11. Basic facilities for Schools:
For improving infrastructure in public schools, items like duel desk worth Rs.68 crores, water filters worth Rs.15.22 crores and Green boards worth Rs .43 crores have been provided to the schools for the first time by the State Government.
12. A Special campaign for students census in schools:
There are about 1,02,000 schools in the State. Considering the complaints regarding the appointment of extra teachers on the basis of bogus enrollment, a special campaign to check the enrollment and attendance was implemented in all the schools in the State with the help of District Collectors and other departments. This will curb mal practices like inflating the number of students on the roll. The outcome has astonished everybody. The campaign has unearthed thousands of bogus students in schools run by School Education Ministry, Social Justice Ministry and Tribal Development Ministry. This will be resulting in saving a few hundred crore rupees every year.
13.Video Conferencing Facility up to taluka:
The offices of the Minister for Education, Principal Secretary (School Education), all Directors of Education, Regional Deputy Directors and other offices upto Taluka level (448 offices in all), have been provided with the facility of video conferencing to minimize the time and money spent on travelling. The video conferencing facility in future will also be utilized for e-learning and e-teaching.
14.'English Language Improvement' Programme:
Some of the schools in the State have been linked with schools in the United Kingdom under the Global School Partnership and 'Connecting Classroom' programs by the School Education Department, Govt.of Maharashtra and the British Council. An English language Improvement programme is also being undertaken in schools with the help of the British Council.
15.Trained teacher's pay-scale for teachers with B.Ed qualification:
In the past, in some primary schools, teachers with B.Ed degree were appointed instead of teachers with D. Ed. (basic qualification for a primary school teacher). These B.Ed. teachers were considered to be untrained teachers. It has been decided to treat them as trained teachers.
16.Appointment of graduate teachers in Upper Primary Schools:
It has been decided that the trained graduate teachers will be appointed in upper primary schools for the effective implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
17. Appointment on vacant posts:
In all, 306 vacancies of Group 'B' Officers have been filled, 213 of them by promotion and 93 by direct recruitment. Also, in Group-A, 34 vacancies were filled under the Backward Class backlog removal campaign.
18.Computer Science/Information Technology courses equivalent to MS-CIT:
Students who pass Computer Science in Std IX and X and Computer Science/Information Technology in Std XI and XII will be considered equivalent to MS-CIT. It will not be necessary for them to pass the MS-CIT examination again.
19.Upgradation of Curriculum:
State Government has taken a decision to upgrade the curriculum of the State board from 9th to 12th Std on the basis of the National Curriculum Framework, 2005.