DIET PENDRA, (BILASPUR, MADHYA PRADESH, now Chattisgarh) As I have seen, 1999
By ARUN C MEHTA
NIEPA, New Delhi (INDIA)
Pendra is situated about 163 kms north of Bilaspur. After enjoying a 63 km long strip of thick `achanakmar’ forest we reached to DIET Pendra. The daily Morning Prayer was on. The Basic Training Institute (BTI) was upgraded as DIET in 1989 and all its instructors were retained in the new set up. One of the reasons of DIET been set up at this far-flung place was due to its campus. The institute has got huge campus spread over 6 acres of land and is equipped with two big halls, two hostels attached to mess, a library, laboratory etc. to which other DIETs may envy. One of the halls even accommodates more than five hundred people. The space available to the institute is so much that even it has donated some acres of land to a degree college. The faculty has also got big rooms equipped with adequate furniture to work and to display training materials. It has also got a laboratory but hardly have any new equipment and whatever is available is very old. The institute has also got a spacious library equipped with furniture but it has no contingency grants for books. Some how, it subscribes local newspapers. Computer provided to DIET in 1989 is lying non‑functional and has become redundant and beyond repairs. The DIET is also equipped with a dish antenna. The campus has got a residential block and has 17 quarters all of which are occupied by its faculty and administrative staff.
Of 24 sanctioned faculty positions (Senior Lecturers 7 and Lecturers 17), only twelve are presently in position all of which are the lecturers. In addition, a Principal and Vice Principal has also been provided in the scheme. The principal DIET has retired recently and the Vice Principal is looking after the affairs of the institute who is identified for the job because of his seniority. Two lady lecturers are also presently on the faculty. The present occupied strength (12 out of 24) according to faculty is the best one; otherwise in the worst days, they used to have only 5 to 6 members.
Recruitment Procedure and Qualification
The DIETs in the state do not have a separate cadre and hence persons from the education department only, mostly lecturers of higher secondary schools, are posted to work as the faculty. Initially, higher secondary teachers those having a M.Ed degree were put to work in the DIET but later this practice was discontinued. Applications are not invited for the faculty positions and the entire responsibility to identify faculty rests with the Controller of Public Instructions who identifies teachers in consultation with the Director of Public Instructions and SCERT. In addition, the Collector can also appoint retired persons to work as faculty for one year. The average stay of the faculty is about 5‑7 years and transfer is not a problem. However, the faculty can be transferred back to higher secondary schools any time and new teachers can be identified and posted to work as the DIET faculty.
The institute has got adequate administrative and support staff (Peons 5, LDC 7, UDC 1, Accountant 1 and Driver 1) but the posts of Librarian and Statistician are lying vacant for a long period.
Since the essential qualifications of a higher secondary lecturer is post graduation with a M.Ed degree, the same is also treated as to be the qualifications of the DIET faculty. Pre service training, other than M.Ed is not essential but the faculty feels that they should be given some content-based training before they enter into the system. None of the present faculty is trained and is also not aware of the training facilities (in‑service) that are available at the state and national level. The letter inviting nominations for training never reaches to faculty and if it comes across such programmes, the same needs to be routed through the SCERT. The principal is not empowered to directly recommend the names of its faculty for training.
As of today, faculty is not engaged in research activities. Undertaking research is out of vision as the faculty at present is under staffed and wholly involved in its However, according to faculty, to initiate research work, they need to take prior approval of the SCERT which in a case has declined to forward a proposal to the national agency for assistance. The faculty has also tried in the past to undertake some lab area related research but couldn’t succeed.
As against seven academic units provided in the national guidelines of DIET, the State Government has adopted to create eleven units in each of its DIETs all of which are said to be in existence in the DIET Pendra. The faculty is of the view that most of these units are non functional in nature, as they are only twelve in the position. Moreover, different units have limited contribution to make in its training programmes, which is in accordance to the specific nature of a unit. However, the faculty is actively involved in training programmes of the institute most of which are confined only to primary education. The institute, at present is not offering training programmes to its other clientele groups, like Head Master/Head Teacher, ADIs, Block Education Officers and Upper Primary Teachers.
Training Calendar and Arrangements
Till recently, SCERT used to send a list of training programmes that are to be organized by the institute but in the present year some responsibility is entrusted to DIET to develop its training calendar which needs to be approved by the SCERT. Few members of the faculty are not aware of this arrangement and of the view that they do not enjoy freedom to develop their training calendar. In fact, the faculty has no role to play in deciding the nature and number of training programmes that are to be organized by it. Its role is limited to the extent that it has to conduct programmes as per the guidelines it receives from time to time from the SCERT. More or less, its role is of an implementing agency while it has flexibility to decide dates and identify participants in consultation with the Block Education Officers and District Project Coordinator (DPEP). The DPEP in the district is under implementation since 1994, since then the institute is not independently developing its plan and programmes and whatever is being received from the SCERT, it used to act accordingly. The role of different units according to faculty comes to a standstill after the DPEP is launched in the district. More or less, the institute has become a DPEP institute and its activities are strictly confined to primary education and areas in which DPEP operates. Even its effort to develop a training programme on teaching methodology of Grade VIII mathematics couldn’t be succeeded because the same was not approved by the SCERT. The teachers in the district were facing difficulties in teaching Grade VIII mathematics. Instead, the institute was told to develop a programme for Grade V mathematics. It may be noted that the DPEP is confined only to Grades I to V.
After receiving the list of the programmes along with the number of participants from the SCERT, the DIET prepares its budget, which is then sent to DPEP for its assistance. This exercise, as described by the faculty, is termed as multiplicative in nature with no flexibility. The institute gets a fixed amount per participant out of which it arranges a breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea, otherwise the amount is provided only for a single meal and tea. However, the faculty is of the view that the amount allocated per participant is sufficient. The participants are given teaching/learning material along with a pen, folder and writing pad for which the institute receives contingency grants from the DPEP. The training programmes used to have three sessions each of two hours per day. The internal faculty manages all the programmes and resource persons from outside are generally not invited to interact with the participants. Lack of research and training may adversely affect capabilities of the faculty. Since the faculty is involved in a number of training programmes, they used to receive feedback and comments from teachers from time to time. Otherwise, there is no regular mechanism through which feedback in terms of impact of training is obtained.
Use of MIS Data
A good amount of block wise information generated, as a part of MIS under the DPEP is available but the same is not being utilised at any level for developing training plans. The poor dissemination of information generated is visibly noticed. The DIET faculty is neither access nor aware of any such information. The information generated under the DPEP, if utilised by the faculty would definitely improve the effectiveness of its training programmes and may also help to properly identify teachers for training. In fact, according to faculty, they are so busy in their routine training programmes that they have hardly any time to look for such information. However, the faculty is aware that about 1400 primary school teachers are to be trained but block wise break‑up is not available to them. The officer responsible for training at the district level is also not access to MIS data; even though the MIS is located only next to his room. It seems that the information generated is not shared at any level except that a copy is sent to the State Level Office (DPEP), which is routine in nature. Even at the state level, no steps have yet been initiated to properly disseminate block and district level information.
At present the institute is involved in a variety of training programmes but their activities, as mentioned, is confined only to primary education. All the training programmes conducted at the DIET are residential in nature. The institute does not conduct training programmes at the block level, the one that is most desired by teachers. However, the faculty is involved in supervision of programmes organized at the block level by the Block Resource Centre (BRCs). Each member of the faculty is assigned two BRCs to supervise; the district has twenty-five such BRCs. At present, the DIET is conducting one training programme of Master Trainers each year in which it used to train a batch of about 125 teachers. The Master Trainers in turn train primary school teachers for which training arrangements are made at the BRC. The faculty is not directly involved in teaching but supervise teaching of Master Trainers. Their involvement is limited to the extant that they used to present in all such programmes as an observer; only in case of need they intervene in teaching and give suggestions. In addition, DIET also organizes two programmes each of 25 participants for the BRC coordinators. The programme for Cluster Academic Coordinators is organized at the block level in which a batch of about 360 teachers in each block used to receive training. In addition, DIET also organizes programmes for supervisors and teachers of alternative schools and Gurajis appointed under the education guaranteed scheme. The programme of supervisors is conducted at the DIET level whereas two programmes for alternative school teachers are conducted at the block level by each of the 25 BRCs.
Recently, the State Government has evolved a scheme to make available a school on demand within 90 days which also subsidizes teachers cost and is named as Madhya Pradesh Education Guarantee Scheme (MP‑EGS). The scheme is recently selected for a UNESCO award. Since 1997, more than sixteen thousand such schools have already been opened. The community in habitations/villages which do not have a primary school within a distance of one kilometre but have at least 40 children of age‑group 6‑11 (25 in tribal areas) can demand for a primary school. The name of the teacher is also suggested by the community which is preferably a local person (preferably a female) having passed Higher Secondary. If the qualified person is not locally available, a person having passed metric can also be appointed as Guraji (PARA TEACHER). The salary of Guraji is Rs. 500/‑ per month and the DIET trains them before the school is started functioning. The total budget of a school is estimated to be Rs. 8500/‑ per annum. The DPEP is funding 50 per cent of the total budget and the State Government funds the remaining 50 per cent. In case of a non‑DPEP district, the scheme is totally funded by the State Government. From January to June 1997, the DIET has organized a series of programmes and trained all Gurajis appointed in the district. This activity is not termed a regular one; as the training imparted to Guraji is only one-time affairs.
The BIT Course
The institute is still continuing with its two years BIT course, which has about 50 students each in the first and second year. This activity seems to be one of the regular and major activity of the institute in which almost entire faculty is involved. Ever since the State Government made pre service training not essential for the appointment of Siksha Karmi, the number of applicants for BIT course has gone down to 600 from a few thousands earlier. The basic qualification of a teacher is 10+2 and the selection is made on the basis of merit (85 %) and an interview (15%). The Chief Executive Officer constitutes the selection committee. The name of the school is mentioned in the appointment letter but classes to which a teacher will teach is decided in the school by the Head Master in consultation with the new appointee and other teachers. New teachers are not appointed in regular pay scale. The state has evolved a novel method to subsidise teacher’s cost and is now appointing only `Siksha Karmis’ for which the minimum qualification is also 10+2. Till recently, Siksha Karmis were paid Rs. 500/‑ per month that has now been revised and put into the grade of Rs. 800‑1000. The Siksha Karmis are entitled for a D.A but other allowances admissible to the State Government employees are not applicable to them. Since most of the Siksha Karmis are untrained, they are required to make themselves trained (BIT) within a period of three years at their own expenses for which they are not granted a study leave. The Siksha Karmis’ have no option but to do the course as a private candidate. The DIET is also running a correspondence course for such teachers. The free accommodation is provided to all BIT students by the institute in its hostel but they have to contribute towards their lodging for which facilities are arranged by the institute. The arrangement is optional in nature and those who come from far-flung places only used to avail this facility. Some girls were also seen to attend BIT classes; otherwise shortage of female teachers is very much in existence in the state. Despite a very low remuneration, the existing and prosperous Siksha Karmis are banking on the hope that some day the State Government will also put them in to a regular grade; hence they continue in the system. The institute is using a common training package for Siksha Karmis, Alternative School teachers, Guraji, NFE and Anganwari Workers.
In all the training programmes conducted by DIET, the representative of the SCERT is generally presented for supervision and monitoring of the programme. The Deputy Director and Joint Director generally do not interact with the faculty of DIET. Pay scale wise both the Deputy Director and Principal DIET is at par. The institute is not receiving suggestions and guidance from the district education department in planning and organisation of its training programmes. Due to DPEP a lot of training activities have been picked‑up in the district otherwise upper primary teachers have not been provided training for the last more than ten years. In fact, district officers should take initiatives and training arrangements be planned and fit into the training calendar of the DIET. As of today, it seems that the Education Department has left everything to the DPEP and is engaged in other activities other than planning and training.
Note: The visit was held on September 03, 1998. The author gratefully acknowledges the support provided by Mr. S.K. John, District Project Coordinator, DPEP Bilaspur, Madhya Pradesh (now Chattisgarh) and to Faculty of DIET Pendra for fruitful discussions.