Column: Making Parents Stakeholders In Their Children’s Education
Pic Credit: indianyouth.net
By Ashutosh Mishra
Bhubaneswar: Not so long ago parent-teacher meetings (PTMs) were seen as an exercise typical of English medium schools. In a way, they distinguished the elite from the hoi polloi. Such distinctions are now getting blurred with governments willing to invest more in education and adopt healthier practices such as PTMs that make parents a stakeholder in the future of their children in true sense of the term.
Odisha government, which had held these interactions in schools across the state for the first time last year, is going to repeat the exercise on January 16. Though late the state government has made a beginning in the right direction as similar efforts in other parts of the country have begun to yield results. The government of Delhi launched the exercise in its schools back in 2016. Recently it held a “mega PTM” to brief parents about their children’s progress and also to take their feedback. Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal himself interacted with parents and guardians at one of the schools.
In Jharkhand, too, PTMs are being organised to ensure increasing involvement of parents in the education of their children. In the exercise held in the state in 2018-19 a total of 1.8 lakh parents and 70,000 students across seven districts had taken part. The importance being attached to these interactions by the government of the tribal-dominated state is evident from the fact that officials have been asked to spread awareness about PTMs through newspapers, mobile messages, flexes and hoardings.
Apart from improving attendance in schools and bringing parents closer to their wards parent-teacher meetings are also being seen as a tool of raising awareness on issues like cleanliness and water conservation. These meetings provide schools and the government a platform to reach out to the community at large.
Our state with 35928 Primary and 20427 Upper Primary schools and around 66 lakh children in the age group of 6 to 14 studying in them can benefit even more from such exercises. With message of the need to universalise education spreading through such platforms, we should be able to bring back to schools around 1.87 lakh children out of schools in the age group of 6 to 14. A sizeable number of these children are from the underprivileged scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.
The state government over the years has taken several laudable initiatives for the spread of education, especially in backward areas like KBK districts and Tribal Sub Plan areas where new primary schools have been opened. In addition to that free textbooks are being supplied to all the block points to be distributed among students at the elementary level. Free textbooks have also been supplied to Odia students residing in states like Andra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Maharastra.
All these are welcome initiatives. But the focus should now be on improving the standard of education in government schools which have over the years earned a bad name because of consistent neglect. Parent-teacher meetings will play an important role in elevating the standards in these institutions and restoring people’s confidence in them.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)