Maharashtra government blames officers for ‘wrongful’ implementation of its recommendation.
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has suspended its instruction to school teachers across the state to take selfies with dropouts and non-schoolgoing children in their neighbourhood to bring them back to classes, blaming officers for “wrongful” implementation of the recommendation.
State education minister Vinod Tawde took the decision to suspend the Government Resolution (GR) in this regard on Wednesday, after receiving flak from certain quarters. A statement by the minister’s office said the decision was taken after a meeting with senior officers of the school education department.
The state education department had issued the GR in November, 2016 asking schoolteachers to identify dropouts and non-schoolgoing children in their neighbourhood by taking a selfie with them. The teachers were also asked to provide detailed information of these children, which the education department would use for tracking them and taking follow-up action to bring them back to schools.
“The selfie GR was for admitting non schoolgoing children to schools and keeping track of them. But it was implemented in a wrong way by some district and tehsil-level (education department) officers,” said the statement. “The government will soon hold a meeting of officers regarding appropriate implementation of the GR. Till we conduct trainings for officers, the GR is suspended,” read the statement.
Teachers were supposed to take selfies only with select students who were not attending regular schools — like those belonging to migrant families. But officials asked teachers to take pictures with all students. Even the GR wrongly stated that teachers must take pictures of all students in groups of 10. As a result, teachers tried uploading several pictures on the mobile app designed for this initiative, thus slowing it down.
Mr Tawde tweeted, “Selfie with Out of School Children’ initiative is being put on hold until further notice due to lack of clarity on its implementation.” Reacting to the GR, a school teacher said, “The net speed is slow and our work mostly involves teaching kids. It is difficult to upload pictures. Should we teach students or upload selfies?”
Plan was rolled out to build database:
Why was the scheme introduced?
The scheme was introduced in November 2016 to create a database of out-of-school children and get them enroled in schools close to their homes. The idea was to ensure that, apart from names and addresses, the department would have a photograph of the child and the teacher who identified him or her for future reference as well as providing facilities that the state government had earmarked for such students.
Why did it become controversial?
The scheme became controversial after teachers misunderstood the instructions in the GR and started taking pictures with students who were already enrolled and uploading them on the mobile application started specifically for the scheme. This resulted in the application becoming slow and overloaded.
What other initiatives have other states taken to discourage absenteeism?
The state has implemented many central government schemes to discourage absentiism like providing mid-day meals and 27 articles which included uniforms, books, cycles, tablet computers and cash incentives to girl students, among other things.