primary education in hyderabad

Primary Education in Hyderabad — Huge Improvement in Learning Outcomes

The education status of any state is gauged by the performance of its primary education system, both in the rural and urban set-up. When it comes to Hyderabad, the city is currently at the peak of its growth phase. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has listed the city among the top ten fastest-growing cities in the world. These changes have profound effects on its primary education system of the city.

Also, as the most liveable city in India, Hyderabad is at the crosshairs of a major transformation in housing and infrastructure. This too is impacting the state of education in the city in a big way. With the expansion in urban areas and the construction of new residential communities that are playing home to a large influx of migrant population, new schools are coming up to meet the needs of residents.

With the increase in job opportunities and disposable income, there’s a growing demand for private schools with modern facilities. In 2017, Hyderabad saw the rising prevalence of private schools in the primary education sector. Even in rural areas, private school enrolment is steadily increasing, from 30.8% in 2014 to 41.8% in 2018 in the 6-14 age-group.

Government Spending

Hyderabad has 1,719 primary schools which include government and government-aided, and private schools. However, since the inception of the state, there is no State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) which is the nodal agency to oversee RTE implementation. The Hyderabad High Court is still hearing on the formation of SCPCR.

In the 2018-19 state budget, Telangana earmarked Rs 13,278 crore for education which amounts to 8.2% of its total budget. There is a special emphasis on the improvement of primary education this year where the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ movement has been allocated Rs 1,058 crore. However, the education budget is almost half as compared to what other states spend and lower than the 10.6% allocation in the 2016-17 budget.

The Changing Dynamics

In a 2019 article, Raghuram Rajan and Abhijit Banerjee pointed out, “The Right to Education Act focuses on input requirements for schools that have little bearing on learning outcomes, which have deteriorated alarmingly. Learning must be our central focus, with all schools, public and private, responsible for delivering a minimum level of basic skills to every child. Bringing those falling behind up to par through remedial teaching will be critical.”

The lack of motivation in the primary education sector stems from many things. In the rural sector children, drop-out rates due to parental apathy, crumbling infrastructure, and bureaucracy hampering teacher’s performance are some reasons. In the urban sector, for-profit schools lowering meaningful education standards and access difficulty due to huge expenditures are some reasons.

But, the state has redrawn the rules and things are shaping up. The first step has been transforming both the teaching and learning methods. The primary education sector in Telangana and particularly Hyderabad has seen amazing retention rates. According to the UDISE based Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan report, Hyderabad recorded the highest percentage at 101.98% in the retention of students. This also meant that the government’s primary education system did not lose students to the private sector.

What Telangana is Doing Right

The state government initiated several reforms and key policy changes to achieve improvement in its primary education segment. Some of these reforms are:

  • Activity-based learning methods,
  • Continued teacher training and competency-oriented teaching methods,
  • Community outreach for retaining children with irregular attendance,
  • Responsible school committees to look into various issues,
  • Mid-day meal scheme,
  • Free books and uniform

These measures along with the use of new methodologies for evaluating students also meant that the state witnessed high promotion percentages from lower to higher primary levels. The improving state of primary education is visible in the low repetition rate of students which stood at a lowly 0.07% for the state while it was nil in Hyderabad and 22 other states.

Voluntary Organisations

In addition, many societies and individuals are also helping to plug the gap in our education system by bringing to par those students who have been left behind. Students from economically and socially backward sections receive educational awareness from many voluntary organisations that are tailoring their educational needs through skill-based and purposeful learning.

As opposed to rote learning methods aiming at literacy, institutions like Ignis Careers who have trained 23,000 students in 60 government schools since 2014 aim at betterment through education. Also noteworthy is the Vandematharam Foundation that is working towards the strengthening of government schools by improving their linguistic and mathematical abilities.

There is hope in the fact that the state has seen a considerable improvement in learning outcomes and almost universal enrolment. The change is positive even though it is slow. The struggles with basic literacy and numeracy are being overcome by consistent efforts by the government and inspiring involvement by voluntary organisations. The levels of learning among children are the prime indicators of the effectiveness of the education system and Hyderabad is looking at a promising horizon.

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