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In Conversation With Reach Ladakh

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In Conversation with Tashi Dolma, Joint Director, J&K School Education
By Rigzin Wangmo, Saturday, June 16, 2018

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Tashi Dolma did her schooling from KendriyaVidyalayaLeh and Kendriya Vidyalaya Jammu. She graduated from Gandhi Nagar College and did her post-graduation in History from Jammu University.
 
She cleared the Combined Competitive Examination in the year 2001 and has served in various departments. In January 2017, she joined as the Joint Director in the Department of School Education, Ladakh.

Q. What are your roles and responsibilities as the Joint Director and functions of the Department?
 
The post of Joint director is a newly created post by the government to monitor and also to bridge the gap between the district and state so that the works are carried out smoothly and efficiently. Our role is to supervise the schemes like Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan(RMSA), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA), Midday meal and the schools.
 
I have been supervising schools in Leh, Kargil, and Zanskar. I have visited every block, division, and sub-division in Leh district and have observed that teachers are sincere and dedicated.
 
Monitoring is very important.  If a teacher is diligently working and doing his/her job with a sense of responsibility, he/she needs to be appreciated and on the other side if teachers who do not take their work seriously, action needs to be taken against them. 
 
The overall scenario of Leh is good but there are some issues with the rural areas. There has to be a teacher for every subject but in some far-flung areas like Zanskar, due to a shortage of teachers, there are instances where teachers who are not specialized in the particular subject have to teach those subjects also. 
 
Q. Tell us about the present education scenario in Ladakh and the pass percentage of 10th and 12th standard of the last six years?
 
The pass percentage of the 12th standard was 53 percent in 2016, and 68 percent in 2017. We saw an improvement in the result of the difference of 15 percent. The 10th standard results have improved but there isn’t much improvement in the result of 12th standard. The teachers are dedicated and putting every effort to improve the education scenario.
 
There is a gradual improvement and students have started to score 68 percent which is commendable and as good as private schools. Many students have secured first division and distinctions. Moreover, the education system is moving in the right direction and along with quantity, quality education is provided simultaneously.
 
 Class 10th and 12th pass percentage (from 2012-2017):
 
 

Class

Pass percentage (2012)

Pass percentage (2013)

Pass percentage (2014)

Pass percentage (2015)

Pass percentage (2016)

Pass percentage (2017)

10th

44

77

74

72

54

59.18

12th

32

56

65

47

53

68

 
Q.How many private and government schools are there in Leh district? Tell us about the enrollment rate?
 
There are 356 government and 38 private schools in Leh district. The student-teacher ratio in a government school is 1:5 and 1:15 in private schools. To build trust among the people, LAHDC has created Council Model Schools and has opened branches in Durbuk, Punpun, Sakti, Alchi, Ayu, Saboo and other places.  The department of education had collectively thought of setting an example instead of urging the parents to send their child to the government schools. We have enough human resource and infrastructure and keeping everything in mind we formed Council Model schools.  The enrollment rate was very low in the past. Taking an example of Sakti Government School, the school had only four students enrolled but today there are 80 students in the school. Similarly, the Saboo Government School was at the edge of closure but now we have 60 students enrolled. Likewise, the enrollment rate has increased in all the Council Model Schools.
 
I visited and observed the discipline in the private schools which are lacking in the government schools. Exchanging ideas will be of great help for the betterment of the students and will improve the scenario of government schools in Ladakh. 
 
Enrolment rate in both the government and private schools as per the data of Education Department, Leh:
 

School

Primary school

Middle school

Higher School

Higher Secondary School

Total

Government

185

125

32

14

356

Private

07

16

13

02

38

Total

192

141

45

16

394


  
Q. How many government schools have been shut down in the past years? What is the department doing to increase the enrollment in Government Schools?
 
Due to low enrollment rate in the past, 28 primary schools were shut down. The department of education is conducting awareness camps at Cluster, Zonal, and District level to increase the enrollment rate in the government schools of Leh District. We have introduced residential schools in many places. Until and unless we do not set an example, the opinion and attitude of the people towards the government school will remain the same. 
 
Q.What is the literacy rate in Ladakh? Has it increased?
 
The literacy rate in Ladakh has increased. According to our office records, every single child has access to education. Under Saakshar Bharat Mission (SBM), we are also running an adult literacy class and have introduced a book in Bhoti language.
 
Literacy rate of Leh District as per 2011 census:
 

Literacy Rate

Percentage

Male

86.31

Female

63.56

Total

77.19

 

Q. How far has the department accomplished the academic reforms in institutions of Higher learning?
 
We invite experts from outside to organise career counselling for students. In the past, students had no option but to migrate to other cities for higher education and were clueless about career options. But today we have Eliezer Joldan Memorial College to pursue higher education.
 
Last winter, we conducted a test and shortlisted the best students and gave them residential coaching of NET and JEE. This was initiated by the Direction office called ‘CM Super 50’ wherein we selected 50 students of science background both Medical and Non-medical and gave high-end coaching by IIT professionals. We will continue to invite experts and counsel the students for Higher education.
 
Q. What are the schemes available in the education sector?
 
We have schemes Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to encourage enrolment and strengthen the quality of education. Besides, we have vocational courses under the Rashtriya Madhyamika Shiksha Abhiyan which include IT and tourism.  The vocational tourism courses begins from class 9thwherein the students are taught basics and when promoted to class 10th they are briefed about the next level. By the time they reach 12th class, besides an academic degree, the student will have add-on degree. This is initiated by the Jammu and Kashmir government. There are plans to introduce more vocational training for different sectors. 
 
Under SSA and RMSA, teaching programmes are organised. Both the schemes will be clubbed together which were earlier two separate schemes.
 
Q.Brief about the transfer policy of the teachers? Don’t you think there is a lack of transparency in the posting of teachers and moreover the teacher is not transferred well before the time of opening of the schools after the vacations?
 
We have almost one thousand teachers in Leh district and have transparent policy of posting and transferring of the teachers and lecturers. They serve the tenure of 2 years in a place and after completion, a teacher is transferred to another place.
 
We have a point system to check the service place of the teacher and how far is the current location from Leh or from their residence. The teachers who are serving in far-flung areas earn more points. On the basis of points, the teachers are transferred accordingly. Last year and this year also, the teachers were swapped as per the points earned by them.  Many have appreciated the policy and we have not faced any problem in the entire process. The department does consider the genuine health issues of the teachers. As of now, We have not received any complaint about teachers not being present in the school after the vacation. When a teacher gets a transfer order he/she gets seven days of joining period and our monitoring team including the officials visit the schools right after the vacation to check the availability of the teachers. 
 
Q. The students studying in Leh city get most of the facilities. Does the department provide same opportunities to the women and students in the far-flung areas?  
 
national programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) schemes is one of the components of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan wherein the women are given vocational training in stitching and knitting. Currently, NPEGEL schemes are not applicable as it has been stopped. When a girl child enters a 9th standard, she is registered to open a new bank account and after passing the class 10th, the sum of money is sent to her account which is called Girls Incentive Scholarship. The same can be withdrawn after class 12th.
 
Q.How is the department planning for the inclusion of specially-abled in terms of providing equal opportunities?
 
We have a residential school called Children with Special Needs (CWSN) in Chuchot where we have special teachers to teach differently abled children. The parents of these children are satisfied with the kind of environment given to them. They have a physiotherapist also. They are trying their best to be independent. The school is specially-abled friendly with ramps and washroom.
 
In the entire Jammu and Kashmir, it has been directed that there should not be a separate school for the specially-abled children. The schools must give inclusive education for all children so that the specially-abled does not feel neglected. The private school cannot deny admission for such children. 
 
Q. There was some reports that the books are not being distributed in the schools in the remote areas. What you have to say about the issue?
 
Books are being distributed in all the government schools through Zonal education Officers of Leh district as per their roll number from Nursery to 8th class which is free of cost. We try our level best to send the books on time but unfortunately sometimes due to an obstruction like the closure of roads and at times there is a delay in the reprinting of books.
 
There was an issue this time with Hindi books which were less in numbers. Generally, it is not the same, when we receive the books we do not waste even a single day and distribute them to all the schools.
 
In many schools, we have the availability of book bank where a child learns to maintain the books. Once the child goes to the next standard the book will be submitted to the book bank so that it can be used by someone else. We also urge the Zonal officers to strengthen the culture of book banks. 
 
Q. Many students are unable to cope up with the increasing pressure and competition. Do you think it is important to appoint counsellor in the schools?
 
Students face pressure from parents and teachers, they worry a lot about studies and results. Many of our teachers are not expert in dealing with the child psychology but we need to identify the problems faced by the students and address it.
 
We have also conducted a workshop on sex education and menstrual hygiene. We invited Dr. Fiyona Das Miranda, an international speaker who also spoke about the suicidal tendency. In future, we have proposed to form a resource team to identify the problems of the students and educate them to deal with the situations.
 
District administration in collaboration with employment department and education department has a concrete plan for counseling for both government and private schools.
 
Q. It has been observed that there is lack of facilities in the government school. Why there is so much difference between private schools and government schools? Comment.
 
There was a time when the education imparted in the government school was not up to the mark and at one point of time we did not have qualified teachers. This compels the parents to send their children to private schools to provide the best education.
 
Today the scenario has taken a different shape. We have advertised 26 teacher posts for which we received 4,000 applicants. 
 
The selected ones were highly qualified in their respected streams. Our main motto is to get the best brains. Today, the schools have proper playgrounds, functional library, and smart classes.
 
District administration took an initiative and instructed to designate computer teachers. A curriculum is designed in which the designated teachers are given training. In the first phase, we have 49 schools where the computers are made functional. 
 
In many schools, with the help of NGOs, we are providing internet facilities to aware students about the information on Wikipedia and Google. So this year we are looking forward to making our schools smart in a real sense.
 
Q. Is the department arranging various conventions, seminars, workshops for teachers? 
 
Yes, we do. The department organises exposure tour for the teachers. What they learn from workshops, seminars, and training should be implemented in their schools; otherwise, it is of no use. The teachers are taught about new teaching methods and the same needs to be implemented in the schools. 

Message to the readers:

“Our teachers are sincere and dedicated but at the same time, I feel that we all have to work together to improve the overall education scenario of Ladakh. We should give our children a good education and a reason to come back and serve the people of Ladakh.”



 
                   
 
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