Running a school – a bystander’s view (2)
Continuing on what I learned about school operations on my vacation to Mumbai.
St Stanislaus is a government aided school, which means the government pays the salaries of teachers (I guess number of of teachers are arrived at based on some Teacher : Student ratio). The school is also given a grant (called a non-salaried grant) that is approx 6-9% of the salary grant aimed to support expenses related to infrastructure or other activities that the school finds appropriate. These funds tend not to reach the school in time and the school has to resort to alternative means until these funds reach the school. The percentage of the non-salaried grant has dropped from 15% a few years ago.
So how does the school do the magic of creating 2 computer labs with 30 networked computers each? Or set up an audio-video room? How are material and salaries covered? From what I understand, the school sets up so-called ‘management teacher’ positions that are funded through additional fees that the education department permits the school to collect and by donations, grants etc raised by the school from other sources (the education department has a cap as to how much can be collected). I would suspect that there is a fair amount of bureaucratic and financial gymnastics involved to make this work (ofcourse, the paperwork is good to employ an army of clerks at the Education Department). From the post on the Dadar school getting computerized, I read that they also are using the ‘extra fees’ mechanism to finance their projects.
On the matter of fees: The education department has stipulated that standard I pays Re. 1/- per month, Std II pays Rs 2/- month and so on etc. Talk about being creative in devising schemes. Anyway, with all the additional fees and charges the average fee amounts to around Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 2000/- per year. Would seem less than what a student would pay monthly on tuitions.
The school has managed to attract good teachers — but reservations can always throw a spanner in the works and the balance of teachers (I guess the max. standard 50% quota for OBC candidates applies). To aggravate matters, the school is apparently compelled to employ teachers with a D.Ed (diploma) and not a B.Ed since B.Ed teachers come in a different cadre/bracket which would tip the ratios and percentages that strain the model the bureaucrats have set up.
It seems like there are a number of mechanisms that generate paperwork (jobs for bureaucrats?) in school while adding little value to the overall education experience. These can only steal time from school administration while also introducing barriers that reduce teachers’ motivation.
Is there anything SSESA can do? Make or mobilize for change? At first glance it appears to be a huge task; however, if ‘we pick our fights’ and try to understand the (dysfunctional) system and the operating conditions, we could contribute with small changes that can transform the education experience for teachers and students. Creating a holistic description of the objectives and goals up against the existing situation and ground realities can help identify and prioritize the actions needed. That would help bring SSESA, PTA, teachers and school administration on the same page. It will take some time to implement all these changes, but we could also ‘hurry up slowly’ by aiming for 2013 — that is when our school will be celebrating 150 years.
Dream 2013 could be more real than most dreams
PS! I have a rudimentary sketch on paper and have been toying with the idea of fashioning a ‘blueprint & roadmap’. However I need help on the ground; is there anyone out there interested in joining me on this venture? Drop me a line at email@example.com