All government and aided schools across the country should constitute a School Management Committee that would plan, monitor and implement Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) schemes as per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act of 2009.
In a candid conversation with Mr. Chandra Mohan, President of the School Management Committee (SMC) of Government Primary School (GPS) Ukhimath , he talks about formation, role and responsibilities of SMCs.
School:- Government Primary School, Ukhimath
District: Rudraprayag (near to the pilgrimage sites of Kedarnath & Tungnath)
No. of Children in School: 52 (classes 1 to 5)
No. of Teachers: 2
What is an SMC and when was it set up in GPS Ukhimath?
An SMC works toward achieving proper and smooth functioning of a school, by catering to its infrastructure needs, mid-day meal programs and ensuring a better learning environment for children. A school development plan (S.D.P) is prepared and shared with government officials. As per RTE guidelines an SMC is a 12 member committee comprising parents and community representatives. The RTE Act came into force from April 1, 2010 but in Uttarakhand, SMCs were formed only after April’2011. Thus, the first SMC for GPS Ukhimath was formed in 2011 and luckily I became the president of the same. (Smiles)
How is an SMC formed and what is the tenure of the committee?
First, a meeting is held in the school premises and all parents of children enrolled in the school and other villagers conduct a ‘baithak’ (an informal gathering). It is called an ‘AAM SABHA’ (General Meeting). Interested people from among this group apply for the posts of President and Vice-President. Polling takes place and the person who receives the most votes becomes the President of the Committee. However, the President should definitely have his or her child enrolled in the school. The Vice-President is also elected in a similar fashion. Ideally the principal of the school is made the Secretary of the SMC, but in case there isn’t any Principal, the next most experienced teacher in the school is appointed as Secretary. The village head (also called the ‘Gram Pradhan’) is a member of the committee. Also, if the ‘Gram Pradhan’ is not available (or is not interested in joining the committee), the Up-Gram Pradhan is made the member. Then there is a Village Development Officer (VDO) who is also a part of this group. The remaining members are from amongst the parents of children who are enrolled in the school.50% of the members should be women. This is how we have a 12 member School Management Committee (as mandated by the RTE Act).
All the members of the SMC undergo 3 day long training. Resource persons include people from local NGOs and Cluster Resource Coordinator.
The training is called ‘Jagriti’ and has three important components:-
- Learning about and understanding the Right to Education Act (RTE), it components and how to involve parents, children and the community in the process of actualizing the Act.
- Learning about the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan(SSA) Movement
- Learning about and understanding the Right to Information ( RTI) Act
The tenure of an SMC is two years, after which it will be reconstituted using the same process.
When are the SMC meetings conducted? Also, how do you implement the key aspects discussed during meetings?
3 major meetings take place in a year. One happens in April at the start of the new academic year, one happens on Teacher’s day i.e. on 5th September and the last one takes place after the final exams in March. Also, the SMC sits on the last Saturday of every month to discuss the affairs of the school.
The outcomes of all meetings are shared with the Block Education Officer (BEO). A few months ago, I made the BEO aware of the poor condition of the school building. The same was taken up and the building has now been renovated.
Do you think that the school system has become more accountable and efficient after the introduction of SMC?
Yes, earlier it was difficult for a teacher to teach as well as manage the day to day affairs of the school. With the introduction of SMC, this problem has been reduced to some extent.
Could you tell us about the infrastructure of GPS Ukhimath?
In addition to the existing school building, a new building is coming up which will have 3 rooms in it. The school has 2 toilets and a new one is currently under construction. There is a kitchen where the mid-day meal is cooked. There are adequate books for children and new books keep coming on a regular basis. We are trying to match up to the standards of the RTE Act, and abide by its norms.
What are the subjects taught to children in School?
There are 8 subjects in all from Class 3 onwards: English, Math, Hindi, Sanskrit, Geography, Social Studies, Environment Studies and Drawing.
For classes 1 and 2, the subjects are English, Math, Hindi and Drawing.
Children are enrolled in their age-appropriate class i.e. a 6 year old will get admitted in class 1. If the level of the child is not as per the grade, he or she is given special attention and efforts are made, by the teacher, to bring him/her to the age appropriate class.
As a President of the SMC and as a person who has been involved with the development sector for a long time, has there been a substantial change in the learning levels of children in Govt. Schools?
SSA has definitely played a big role in improving the learning levels of school children in schools, even though massive work still needs to be done. Earlier children were not enthusiastic or forthcoming. The curriculum of SSA has given children the freedom to express themselves. This freedom translates into improved learning levels.
One final question, if someone wants to visit your school in Ukhimath, can he or she do it?
Yes, you are most welcome. Ukhimath is a very picturesque place, and I would be more than glad to entertain visitors. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chandra Mohan is the President of School Management Committee of GPS Ukhimath and is actively involved since 2008 with Pratham Education Foundation, an NGO working in the field of education. He is a district coordinator with Pratham and is recognised more by his nickname “CM saab”.