Where government schools are chicSathish G.T. - District Correspondent, Hassan
Hassan district has emerged the first in the State to have government sponsored pre-primary schools and with that it aims to check the growth of private educational institutions in rural areas. People need not pay heavy donations or fee to provide their children English education at the pre-primary level.
At 86 places in the district the pre-primary schools, named Makkala Mane, are functioning on the premises of government primary schools. At present, as many as 2,860 children are admitted to these schools. The State Government stopped running pre-primary schools after the introduction of anganwadi centres on a large scale. After many years the government opened pre-primary schools, of course with the active participation of the public and philanthropists.
The effort is seen as a measure to avert closure of government schools due to continuing decline in the number of admissions. In Hassan alone 60 government primary schools were closed this year.
The total number of students in each of these schools was less than five. The government faced no obstacles in closing the schools as the Karnataka High Court had upheld its move.
“The only way to stop parents admitting their children to private schools is to strengthen government schools,” Deputy Director of Public Instructions A.T. Chamaraj said. The public want their children to study English and get quality education on a par with those studying in private schools. If they are assured of similar facilities in government schools, why will they go to private schools, he asked.
The public response has been very good for the initiative. So far the public has contributed over Rs. 21 lakh in terms of cash, play equipment, reading material and other basic necessities of the schools. “This is beyond our expectations. The contribution is still flowing in. Many people have promised donations in the coming days. This model has impressed the senior officers of the department as well. The district has got Rs 7.5 lakh under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana to strengthen these schools,” he said.
Each pre-primary school has a parents’ association, which meets once a month to review the activities. The Department of Women and Child Development had also joined hands with the Education Department to make the initiative a success. Anganwadi centres have been merged with pre-primary schools and anganwadi workers handle children in the lower kindergarten class.
For the UKG class, a volunteer with the required qualification has been selected to teach. “They are not recruited. They get salary from the fee collected from parents,” the officer said.
The department collects Rs. 100 per child per month. This is quite cheap compared to the fee structure in private schools. “In some places parents are ready to pay more. But we restricted it to Rs. 100 per child. The amount collected as fee is sufficient to pay the volunteers, while the rest is managed from the public donations,” Block Education Officer D.T. Puttaraju said.
The pre-primary school set up at Nittur in Hassan taluk has a strength of 80 children. The people’s representatives and retired officers have contributed funds to strengthen the school.
Hassan Taluk Panchayat president Krishna Kumar provided books worth Rs. 17,000 and another donor provided uniforms at a cost of Rs. 11,000. “Similarly, many people settled in different places have shown interest to contribute funds. We are hopeful that in the coming years these schools will be strengthened further so that many more children will be attracted to them,” he said.
Interestingly, a private pre-primary school in Nittur had to close after the government pre-primary school opened. The officers are hopeful that a similar impact could be seen in all other places soon. If the children are attracted to government schools at the pre-primary level itself there would not be shortage of students for primary schools. Those who took admission at the pre-primary level would continue in the government schools after completing UKG.
No government syllabus
At present the government has not framed the syllabus for LKG and UKG classes. The officers have purchased the books which are being taught in private schools.
Mr. Puttaraju said that the DDPI collected books prescribed in various private schools and chose the best among them for these schools.
Even as the government is facing criticism on introducing English as the medium of instruction at class six, here the department has introduced English as a language at the pre-primary level. However, so far there has been no opposition to teaching English for kids in these schools.
“We teach Kannada, English and basic mathematics,” said Ramya, a volunteer who teaches at Makkala Mane in Salagame in Hassan taluk. The children are also taught music and dance.
Forget hefty fee and donations, admit your children to Makkale Mane
Hassan, July 26, 2012
‘Makkale Mane’ gives a boost to State schools- District Correspondent, Hassan
Initiative in Hassan district gets good response
The district administration’s initiative to set up pre-primary schools to attract children to government schools has received a good response.
As many as 2,860 children have been enrolled in 86 pre-primary schools, called ‘Makkala Mane’.
Set up by the departments of Public Instruction and Women and Child Development, these schools admit children to lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten classes.
They are taught Kannada, English and mathematics, on a par with convent schools.
“If children are admitted to government schools at the pre-primary level, their chances of being admitted to the same school for first standard are more,” said D.T. Puttaraju, Block Education Officer.
“We conceived this programme to show that our pre-primary schools are in no way inferior to private schools in terms of education and infrastructure.”
The BEO sees this initiative as a measure to avoid closure of government schools. This year alone, the department closed 60 schools in the district where the total student strength was either five or less.
This correspondent visited two such schools at Salagame and Nittur villages in Hassan taluk on Tuesday. At Salagame, there are 22 children in the Makkala Mane, and at Nittur 80.
As the State government had not framed a syllabus for pre-primary schools, officers selected the textbooks after referring to what was prescribed in private pre-primary schools. “Our senior officers collected textbooks from different schools and chose the best among them for these children,” Mr. Puttaraju added.
People have contributed funds, playthings, books and writing material to strengthen these schools.
Deputy Director of Public Instruction A.T. Chamaraj said he was impressed by the public’s contribution to the programme. So far, over Rs. 21 lakh had come in, in the form of cash, play equipment, uniforms, shoes and chairs.
Hassan Taluk Panchayat president Krishna Kumar contributed books worth Rs. 17,000 for the Makkala Mane at Nittur. Another donor contributed uniforms worth Rs. 11,000. “People settled at different places have shown interest in contributing towards schools in their native place,” Mr. Puttaraju said.
“The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has also sanctioned Rs. 7.5 lakh,” Mr. Chamaraj said.
Besides, the school charges Rs. 100 per child a month.
The Makkala Mane schools have been set up on government primary school premises, where additional rooms are available.
In these areas, existing anganwadi centres have been merged with the Makkala Mane. While an anganwadi worker teaches children in LKG, another teacher is appointed for UKG.
“We call the teachers volunteers. They are paid from parents’ contributions,” Mr. Puttaraju explained.
Every school is monitored by a parents’ committee. “At Nittur, many people were disappointed as we restricted admission. Interestingly, a private school at the village had to shut down because of a sudden decrease in admission,” he added.
According to Mr. Chamaraj, the government had appreciated the programme, conducted for the first time in Karnataka.
Bangalore Rural district had also followed this model to avoid closure of government schools, he added.
Pre-primary children are taught Kannada, English and mathematics
People have contributed funds, playthings, books and writing material for the schools
Makkala Mane - Child Friendly Pre-School in Hassan District