Janki Rajan Committee Report

Report of the Committee For Evolving Modalities for Sensitizing Teachers for Integrating Children from Weaker Sections of Society in Private Schools

The Chief Minister of Delhi constituted a Committee to evolve modalities for sensitizing teachers in private schools for integrating children from backward sections of society into private schools. The Members of the Committee were:

1. Dr.Janaki Rajan, Reader, Central Institute of Education, Delhi University Convener

2. Dr. M. C. Mathur, Director, SCERT Member

2. Ms. Vibha Parthasarathi, Former Principal, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya Member

3. Dr. Jitender Nagpal, Psychiatrist, Vimhans Member

4. Dr. Sarwat Ali, Senior Lecturer, IASE, Jamia Milia Islamia Member

The Committee held three meetings in all, apart from intensive consultations over telephone and internet. A total of around 85 private school teachers, heads of schools, members of management, researchers on inclusion and NGO representatives were consulted before the drafting of the Report. The Minutes of the meetings and persons consulted is given in Annexure I, II, and III.

1. Background

The Committee observed that there exists considerable confusion among teachers and management regarding the background of the decision to include 25% of children from backward sections of society into private schools. At each consultation, the background had to be presented before the Committee could move forward. The private school representatives were also unhappy about the ‘force’ for integration. Many felt that if they could do this gradually, and of their own volition, the integration would be more successful. The Committee’s first recommendation therefore is that the Government of Delhi must prepare a background note for all private school stakeholders: Management, School Heads, Teachers and Parents including the copy of the Judgment of the High Court.

2. Time Frame

The Members of the Committee were of the view that integration of children from backward sections of society is a historic first step towards realizing the recommendations of Kothari Commission (1964) and the National Policy on Education and its Review (1986 and 1990) towards a Common School system(CSS). Common school system is equality of entitlements based on non-discrimination: that all children are entitled to equal opportunities to education It envisages that children, rich and poor would get equitable quality of education as laid down in the preamble of the constitution of this country. This step also realizes the much cherished educational principle of inclusion. The Committee was of the view that inclusion benefits not only the children from backward sections of society, but equally, if not more so, benefits children from mainstream society. Given this significance, it is important to underline that the task of educating the children of backward sections in an integrated classroom in a private school is a very complex one and deserves to be planned and worked out in detail. The Committee strongly recommends that pre-requisite for integration is a systematic, informed sensitization program for all stakeholders: School Managements, Heads of Schools, Teachers, Counselors, fee-paying parents as well as parents of children from backward sections. Integration will then be ensured the success it deserves.

3. Prevailing views of Private School Teachers and Heads of Schools

3.1 Commitment towards social responsibilities:
The Committee was heartened to note that the majority of private school teachers they consulted were aware of their social responsibilities and had stated that they welcome the inclusion of the children from backward sections. Many of the private schools also have been fulfilling this responsibility by offering Bridge Programs, afternoon support classes for children of backward sections. Many also teach the children of their own class IV employees free of cost in the main school. The Committee was of the view that these experiences of the schools will be of great use in the integration of children. They, however, had some legitimate concerns. Their concerns and the views of the committee on each are given below:

3.2 Level at which integration could /may be more successful: The teachers were most confident about successful integration if it happened in the Nursery class. They reported that when they had tried integration on their own, if children are taken beyond class I, integration had not been successful. The Committee considers this a valid concern. At any event, in most private schools, most of the intake happens at Nursery level. Very few children are taken in at higher levels, except Class IX and XI. After due consideration, the Committee is of the view that the integration to take place at Nursery, Class IX and XI. If required, the 25% can be made up by increasing the intake at Nursery to compensate for prospective non-inclusion at higher classes admissions. For Classes IX and XI, entrance test for English and subject competency can be held.

3.3 Continuous additional support for the children of weaker sections within the school: Some additional hours for supporting the children, especially to strengthen their English comprehension and speaking skills, study skills, support for home work would be required. School Managements must make this arrangement possible; otherwise the children from backward sections would simply drop out. Counseling services for both sets of children would also need to be provided to further strengthen their strengths and address problems-be they academic, emotional, pychological, or, everyday problems and issues.

3.4 Support from home: Some teachers were of the view that parents from backward sections are not really equipped to provide the support children need to while studying in private school. The child does not have space and quiet to study. However, some teachers reported experiences to the contrary. They felt that parents of backward sections are deeply conscious of the opportunity for their child to study in a good private school and go the extra mile to ensure their children’s participation. The Committee agreed with the latter view. Teachers observed that strategies for teaching children who do not get home support in studies are not available. The Committee was in broad agreement with this view and strongly recommends that teacher education institutes reform their curricula so that issues and class-room strategies for inclusion become compulsory part of pre-service teacher education. University Departments of Education need to take up Research in this area However, the Committee has also put together some available readings and modules which are annexed.

3.5 Educating Parents: Most teachers observed that parents of children from the fee-paying sections of society objected to their children sitting together with a child from backward sections of society. The Members of the committee felt that the school is not an isolated institution, and must look to educating the parents as well, as they do on other issues such as regularity. Parents must know that inclusion is not a philanthropic principle, but a sound educational principle for all children.
3.6 Authenticity of Income certificates: Private school teachers observed that there seems to be some fuzziness regarding the income certificates of parents. These appear to be easily available and parents who have been paying fees for the elder child are now coming with an income certificate showing lower income for admission for the second child. The Committee was of the view that the Government needs to ensure that income certificate issuance is authentic and eliminate its misuse.

3.7 Problems in integration in higher classes and Adolescence related issues: The teachers and some members of the Committee were concerned that integration could be problematic at Class IX and XI as children were also going through adolescence related problems. After much discussion, the Committee agreed that the advantages of integration at these levels overweigh the developmental concerns. At these stages, subject based teaching-learning dominates schooling. A child from backward sections who has a scholastic aptitude could benefit hugely. Dr. Nagpal, a member has kindly provided teacher support materials. The Delhi YUVA Module may also be used for training teachers in Classes IX and XI. The Committee was of the view that, once teachers are sensitized, along with the support of Counselors, the integration should be smooth.

3.8 Tuitions: Some teachers stated that almost all children in private schools also take tuitions to cope with the CBSE Syllabus. The child from backward sections cannot afford this, and would lag behind. The Committee considered the matter to be crucial, but concluded that an effective school should not really be depending on tuitions. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the integration would be that teachers would begin to use classroom practices appropriate for children of backward sections. These are really also good pedagogic practices that would benefit all children and would preclude the need for tuitions for all children. The Committee note with regret that not much is available by way of classroom based research and once again re-iterates the need for Universities and Research Agencies to study and come up with a wide range of good classroom practices.

3.8 Finances: The teachers also raised issues of costs of uniform, books, tours, picnics, annual day etc. The Committee restrains itself from giving any views on this matter as a separate Sub-Committee has been set up for looking into these aspects. However, one strong suggestion from the teachers merits consideration. Nearly all the private school teachers suggested that the government school teachers also need to be trained on effective teaching and the system re-structure itself to ensure accountability. The Committee agreed with the suggestion.

4. Modalities for Sensitization

4.1 Base exists in many private schools

Subsequent to the discussions with the teachers, the Committee also consulted some teachers who had rich experience of successful integration. The Committee then concluded that the sensitizing the classroom teacher is vital to successful integration. The Committee noted with satisfaction that the majority of the teachers consulted were not against integration.

4.2 Prevailing Stereotypes about children from backward classes
The Committee noted, during discussions with teachers, that certain stereotypes do appear to prevail among the majority of teachers, who appear to believe in some inherent superior capability of a child from the affluent class and do not expect to see this among children from backward classes. The backwardness and poor economic condition of these children have been conflated into their intellectual abilities. Research all over the world has shown that this is not the case. Intelligence can be found as much in children from poor homes as in rich homes. Difficulties in learning can be a barrier in both homes. It is true that adverse environment, poor nutrition are additional barriers for children from backward sections, but they are not insurmountable. Children from backward sections have tremendous capabilities that their very environs have also rendered them-curiosity, lack of cynicism, industriousness, resourcefulness, ability to make do with very little that is available and the creativity and ingenuity that emerges from this. It is for the teacher to draw these out.

4.3 Prevailing Teacher Mind sets

The Committee was however distressed to note that teachers in private schools, themselves from the middle and upper middle class backgrounds identified so strongly with the fee paying children, that their articulations showed that they have in their minds two kinds of children-ours and theirs. Children from backward class of society were described as lacking in hygiene, having lice, inability to use toilets, slow, use objectionable language, lack English language skills, have slow writing skills. Except for the last two, the rest are not necessarily true, and easily remedied.

This mind set would be the greatest barrier to integration. The class teacher’s approval is so crucial to children, that there is no hope for the child from weaker section to feel valued unless the teacher views him or her as one of her own. Feeling superiority of the fee paying children, a legacy that some may bring from their homes needs also to be addressed by the class teacher. Even a hint of sympathy, knowingly or unknowingly communicated by the teacher to the fee paying child and marginalisation of the child from backward section of society would lead to peer related problems. Sensitization to alter this mind set of the teacher must be the back bone of their training.

5. Policies, Preparation and Sensitization Modalities

5.1 The Committee recommends the following

1.       Make non-discrimination a school policy, indeed an essential spirit of school environment.

2.       Prepare a checklist of dos and don’ts

3.       Prepare teachers to take extra care with children from backward sections

4.       Orient teachers on subject teaching skills

5.       Orient teachers on when and how to introduce English and Hindi

6.       Orient teachers on learning and cognitive theories of Ruby Payne, Vygotsky , Feurenstein, Pigaet , Toto Chan , Gijubhai Badheka , Tolstoy farm and Nai Talim

7.       Gardner’s multiple intelligence and relevant social learning things.

8.       Literature collated by the researchers in the Committee and invited expert and placed in the Annexures to be printed and given to all teachers.

9.       Impress upon teachers that all these skills are as much useful for ‘our’ children as ‘them’.
10. Devise methods for teachers to introspect: What do I know? What do I not know?

10.   Help them appreciate between mere verbalization and internalized learning

11.   Orient teachers on group activities

12.   Orient teachers on observation skills and how to interact with children with respect

13.   Orient teachers on some of the methods used for children with special needs-they’re equally useful for all children

14.   Specify content: language, numeracy, expressive arts, hand-on activities, play, co-operative activities, peer grouping, recognizing innovation, creativity, building school climate for inclusion

15.   Orient teachers in general to communicate with all the children

5. Resource Support for Training

The Committee recommends that:

5.1 Given the expertise of several Members of the Committee, Ms. Vibha Parthasarathy, Dr. Sarwat Ali and Dr. Jitendra Nagpal may act as the Empowered Advisory team. They may co-opt more persons as and when required.

A team of teachers who have successfully implemented integration identified by the Advisory team may act as Key Resource Team for the training process. They may in turn identify more resource persons and orient them to conduct the training.

Videos and films on inclusion are available with some of the former teachers. These may be collated and used in training. The Committee also recommends that films on specific issues also be got prepared. Eg. Instance of showing finger dexterity in middle class child through writing, and perhaps through skillful use of rope, or thread by children from backward sections. This will help demonstrate to the teachers that children from backward sections are equally if not more capable of learning.

5.2. Training Schedule

The Committee assumes that on an average, there would be 4 teachers from each of the 1200 private schools, i.e. 4,800 teachers. 30 teachers to be trained at each centre, 30 centers, within private schools may be identified, and training completed in 5 phases. A total of 45 Resource Persons the approved by the Sub-Committee may conduct the workshops. The workshops may be held in private schools serving as Centres

5. 3 Resource materials

The Resource Materials, films, teacher handbook of Course content, with readings recommendedabove and others that the Advisory team may find appropriate may all be got prepared by the Key Resource team.

5 . 4 Work shops

One day workshop for Management Representatives

* One day workshop for Principals and Heads of Primary and Pre-primary sections
* Teachers to have 17 days workshop interspersed as follows:
* Five days induction, + 3 days after one term, + 3days after second term, +3 days after third term for review, + 3 days for planning for the next year.

The Committee is indebted to the large number of teachers, Heads, Principals, researchers who so generously shared their experiences so openly and candidly. It is these interactions that have made the preparing of this report possible. The Convener is deeply indebted to each Member of the Committee for having worked so cohesively, and enriching this report with their wealth of professional experience and personal commitment.

Dr.Janaki Rajan, Dr. M.C.Mathur, Ms. Vibha Parthsarathi, Dr. Sarwat Ali, Dr.Jitendra Nagpal

Annexure :
I, II, III Minutes of the Meetings
IV-XII Modules and Materials for training