The teenage years are the most transformative for any individual. The Ganjam district administration has started the High School Transformation program under the leadership of District Magistrate, Vijay Amruta Kulange IAS. The program has been launched under the 5T principles of the Government of Odisha.
Teamwork, Transparency, Technology, Transformation and Time are the key parameters for the development of any state. The state government of Odisha is marching ahead with these objectives thereby promoting good governance in every sphere of life.
The vital elements
The High School Transformation program comprises six vital parameters- smart classes, e-libraries, modern science laboratories, hygienic toilets, drinking water facilities and playgrounds. The project was launched in March 2021. 50 high schools were taken up in the first phase.
Dattatraya Shinde, a 2016 batch IAS officer, presently posted as the PD DRDA, Ganjam said that the focus is on Class 8, 9 and 10. “This is because these are the most formative years for any child. The Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha has now dedicated all these high schools to the students. Classes are now going on in full swing,” he informed.
In the second phase, the district administration has started transforming 83 more high schools which would be completed within October this year. The aim is to transform all the high schools in the district within 2 to 3 years.
A blended approach
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the benefits of online learning to the fore. The nationwide caseload has now decreased. Many high schools are opening up for the students following all social distancing norms.
The New Education Policy 2020 has forced schools to adopt a blended approach towards education. The Ganjam district administration ventured into online learning way back in December 2019. Under the leadership of DM Vijay Amruta Kulange, IAS it was thought out that all the lessons of primary and high schools, as well as colleges, would be available in PDF format and through video lectures.
Teachers with expertise in any particular field record these lectures at the district-level studio. These videos are then uploaded to the app. Students across Ganjam can access the e-content at any time. At present all lessons of Class 10 and around half of the syllabus of Class 9 have been completed. The rest of the syllabus will be covered shortly. The Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited is also providing e-content for the students.
Online infrastructure is the key to ensure equal access to education. To ensure a blended model of learning, apart from Smart TVs these high schools have Green Boards and White Boards as well.
Moreover, all schools will be having broadband or Wi-Fi connectivity through dongles. In the Gram Panchayats, if BSNL or BBNL connectivity is available, it will be extended to the high schools as well.
The Ganjam district administration is also focusing on teacher training programs. Teachers are being taught to take the help of e-content. “It is the responsibility of the teachers to make every student understand the e-content. So, the importance of teachers has not diminished but increased. The e-content is only complimenting the teachers’ efforts,” Dattatraya Shinde highlighted.
The level of experimentation in most high schools in India is almost absent. The New Education Policy has stressed vocational training from high schools. It has also emphasized students taking up internships from early on in their careers. In Ganjam’s high schools the key is to find out the specific interests of the students.
The district administration has started some skilling initiatives for the students. Some of the NGOs are sending their teams to the high schools and making students aware of various skilling opportunities through e-content. “The focus is on developing soft skills now so that students are ready for the future,” Dattatraya Shinde said.
Ganjam has many industrial set-ups like Tata Steel SEZ, Gopalpur Port and many others. “In the Odisha Adarsha Vidyalayas, we are thinking of tagging some of the schools with these industries so that students get proper exposure from these places. However, this is just a start. We would also be taking up more such initiatives in days to come,” Dattatraya Shinde added.
India has put up a phenomenal performance in the Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics. Through Ganjam’s e-Smart classes motivational videos are being played for all the high school kids. The aim is to make kids aware that sports can be an attractive opportunity for career development as well.
Other than getting inspired from role models, the availability of sports infrastructure and quality trainers at the ground level count as well. Thus, the Ganjam district administration has made the availability of school grounds a compulsory part of High School Transformation.
It might be interesting to know that Ganjam is a volleyball belt where ‘Dabba volleyball’ is locally played in all the villages. Thus, volleyball grounds have been made compulsory in all high schools along with a kho-kho and a kabaddi ground. “These are low-cost facilities which can help us in generating an atmosphere of sports in the villages,” Dattatraya Shinde said. A playground is also being developed in every Gram Panchayat under MGNREGS.
The Government of Odisha has taken up the initiative to build a sports complex in every city across the state. This would ensure that students who want to go ahead in the field of sports and train professionally can do so at the nearest possible municipality.
Other than sports, the district administration has also made it compulsory for all the high schools to have an amphitheatre. This would enable students to practice any musical instrument or performing art that they would like to.
“We are aiming at the holistic transformation in students rather than restricting ourselves to smart classes. The idea is to bring about a comprehensive change in the minds of the students which will cause a ripple effect across the society,” Dattatraya Shinde emphasized.
A success story
The High School Transformation project has led to some positive outcomes in the education sector. Student absenteeism has gone down. The dropout rates have decreased as well. Both students, as well as teacher engagement, are increasing. Even students from private schools are taking admissions in government high schools.
Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Let us hope that the high schools in Ganjam bring about a sustainable and comprehensive transformation in students and pave the way for an equal and just society.