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Editorial Articles

Issue no 28, 08 - 14 October 2022

PM Shri Helping Young Minds Rise and Shine

Dr. Rajesh Kumar

The National Education Policy (NEP) envisages an education system that will transform India into an equitable and dynamic knowledge society by imparting high quality education to all. It highlights the legacy of traditional to modern education in schools as well as higher education system through significant reforms and foresees India as a 'Global Knowledge Superpower' in the 21st Century. The policy framework emphasizes on the development of both the 'foundational capacities' and 'cognitive capacities' in every individual and inculcates creative as well as critical thinking. It enhances social, ethical and emotional temperament through problemsolving approaches. School level education has utmost importance in instilling a deep sense of bonding for the country, respect for fundamental duties and constitutional values and role and responsibilities as a citizen through curriculum and pedagogy during childhood. Therefore, strengthening the school education system is one of the most important challenges of the 21st Century for India.

PM SHRI: A Central Scheme On the occasion of Teachers' Day this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 'PM SHRI: Prime Minister Schools for Rising India'. A central scheme, with a budget of Rs. 27,360 crore, it primarily focuses on the development of more than 14,500 schools across the country during the next five years 2022-2027 with an aim to benefit more than 18 lakh students directly across the country. The scheme will strengthen existing schools being managed by Central/State/Union Territory (UT) Government/Local Bodies as envisioned in the National Education Policy. The schools will be upgraded with modern infrastructure, latest information and communication technology (ICT) tools for teaching and learning, smart classrooms and sports facilities etc. PM SHRI schools will act as 'NEP Labs' with each school collaborating with higher education institutions for mentoring with the provisions for internship with local industry, according to Union Minister of Education Shri Dharmendra Pradhan. The schools will deliver high quality teaching and learning for holistic development of a student through various activities and will provide mentorship and leadership to other schools in their locality. All the schools will be developed as vibrant schools which will mainly focus on overall development of a child making them complete in every aspect. It aims to inculcate among students virtues like respect for civilizational ethos, values, heritage, inclusivity, equality and unity in diversity and a deeprooted sense of service/duties for the society and the nation. A budget of Rs. 27,360 crore shall be allocated during the period of next five years 2022- 2027 with a Central-State/Union Territory Government Ratio 60:40. It means that the Central Government will contribute 60% of its total budget, whereas the remaining 40% will be borne by the State/UT Government. However, for states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and the North-Eastern states Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, the contribution of Central Government will be 90% under this scheme.

·         PM SHRI: Key Highlights High-Quality Education: As envisioned in the National Education Policy 2020, the scheme emphasizes on high quality education through various qualitative and innovative ways such as learning improvement programs, comprehensive progress cards, innovative pedagogies, bagless teaching-learning process, internship with local industry and capacity building etc. It focuses on an equitable, inclusive and cheerful school environment by promoting diversified backgrounds, multilingual requirements and academic capabilities of children. Apart from these, this policy also focuses on Sports, Arts, and Information & Communication Technology for every child so that physical, mental and technological aspects are addressed properly. Moreover, all schools under PM SHRI will receive science and mathematics kits and will receive beneficiary oriented entitlements under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Annual sports grants for the development of libraries, sports infrastructure, childhood care centre and education including Balvatika and Foundation Literacy and Numeracy shall be provided. Further, the scheme introduces students' registration system through which enrolment and learning progress may be tracked.

·         Green School Initiative: Environment has been a matter of great concern and the Government of India has left no stone unturned to achieve its green targets, thus one of the major initiatives under the PM SHRI scheme is Green School, which means schools shall be developed in an environmentfriendly manner with prime focus on self-sustainable model. The development of gardens with organic farming, harvesting system, solar panels, conservation of water, a system for waste management and plastic free zone etc. will generate a clean, healthy, protective and green environment by saving energy, resources and money. Further, Green Schools will impart education about environment protection and climate change and will promote awareness campaigns for sustainable development. The scheme plans to integrate existing schemes such as Panchayati Raj Institutions/ Urban Local Bodies and participation of community for the upgradation of infrastructure and creation of various facilities in the school.

·         Curriculum and Pedagogy: PM SHRI Schools will act as ‘NEP Labs’. Curriculum and pedagogy in these schools shall be more experiential, comprehensive, integrated, flexible, joyful and studentcentered. It will be primarily activity and discussion based and inquiry and discoveryoriented. Flexibility in the selection of subjects and their teaching-learning and evaluation in mother tongue/local languages shall be highly emphasized. Further, to deal with the language barriers, new ICT (Information & Communication Technology) tools, smart classrooms and digital libraries shall be used. The assessment of learning outcomes of every child in every grade is very important. The evaluation process focuses on conceptual understanding and application of knowledge to real life situations and competency of a student.

·         Skill Council & Local Industry: The linkage between PM SHRI Schools and Sector Skill Councils and Local Industry shall be one of the major initiatives which will enhance employability. The need for vocational training is high and every middle grade child shall be provided basic vocational skills so that every child passes out with at least one skill at the end of the course and be able to stand out in the era of cut throat competition. In this regard, every child will be counselled for psychological well-being and career opportunities. These schools aim to explore better employment opportunities through vocational programs, internships and entrepreneurship opportunities with local industries. This interface will also explore opportunities to map the current trends and accordingly course curriculum and pedagogy shall be prepared.

·         PM SHRI: Implementation Strategy The implementation strategy of PM SHRI Scheme is very important as it will pave the way for systematic development of school education in the 21st Century. It would be implemented through the existing structure available for Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and Samagra Shiksha. As per requirement, the other autonomous bodies would also be associated on a particular project basis. These schools will be functional under robust monitoring and mentoring system in order to understand the challenges faced in the implementation of National Education Policy 2020 and assess its progress.

PM SHRI: Selection Process PM SHRI schools will be selected through Challenge Mode. Schools will apply through the online portal which will be opened four times in a year, once every quarter, for the first two years of the scheme. Schools will compete to become exemplary schools under this scheme. Schools will be divided into the following category:

·         Elementary schools from Class 1-5 and Class 1-8 

·         Secondary/Senior Secondary Schools from Class 1-10, 1-12, 6-10 and 6-12.

Further, the schools under the Central/State/Union Territory Governments/ Local SelfGovernments with UDISE+ (Unified District Information System for Education+) code would be considered for the selection process which would be done through a three-stage process with definite time lines, which is as follows:

Stage 1: States/Union Territory Governments would sign MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for implementation of National Education Policy. The agreement will be entirely based on the Centre laying down commitments for supporting these schools to achieve specified quality assurance as PM SHRI schools.

Stage 2: A pool of eligible schools shall be selected as PM SHRI schools. They will be identified on the prescribed minimum benchmark through UDISE+ (updated and improved version of UDISE and the entire system is online). Stage 3: A pool of eligible schools fulfilling the prescribed criteria will compete through Challenge Method. States/UTs/ JNV/KVS will certify the fulfilment of criteria/conditions/ norms through physical inspection and shall recommend the list of schools to the Ministry. Final selection of schools would be done through expert committee. Maximum two schools (One Secondary/Senior Secondary & One Elementary) will be selected in every Block/ULB (Urban Local Body) with upper limit of number of total schools across India. The selection and monitoring of PM SHRI Schools will be done through Geo-tagging with the services of Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N).

PM SHRI: School Quality Assessment Framework (SQAF): In order to measure outcome, a School Quality Assessment Framework shall specify the key performance indicators. At regular intervals, evaluation of these schools shall be done on various qualitative parameters to ensure the desired standards. For better mentoring and guidance from time to time each school shall be linked/connected to Higher Education Institutions along with another crucial initiative of linking/ connecting every school to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Outlining the vision of the new education system, Govt. of India has showcased important aspects of National Education Policy 2020 through PM SHRI Schools which will lay the foundation of 'Schools of New Era' and will transform India into a 'Global Knowledge Superpower' in the 21st century.

(The author is Assistant Professor (Sr.) & Coordinator, Department of Mass Communication and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat, Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi. He can be reached at rajesh.kumar@cuj.ac.in) Views expressed are personal