Marred by high dropout rates and low enrolment numbers in municipal schools, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s education department has finally pulled up its socks to improve the quality of education in its schools. The department — following backlash from parents, non-government organisations and teachers — has proposed an array of changes for the next academic session, including several competitive exams at par with CBSE and ICSE schools. “We plan to start talent search exams for students of Class III, IV, VI and VII from June. This will encourage competitiveness among students and push teachers to improve their teaching standards,” said Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC. He added the talent search exam is one of the proposed plans for which the education department will seek budgetary provisions. Although he refused to divulge the amount proposed, he said that improving quality of education was a priority for the civic body now.
Science and Maths olympiads, too, are in the offing, said Palkar, adding that moving towards activity-based learning would improve performance. “We have already finished training the teachers in activity-based learning. Instead of waiting for the next academic session, we will begin implementing the methodology from this month,” said Palkar. “While these efforts are aimed at improving the quality of education, the teachers will have to buck up and work on their teaching methodologies,” said Palkar. The BMC has been pushing for knowledge constructivism among teachers for some time now. Teachers are being trained to evolve unique ways of teaching using props. In the past few years, the number of students joining the BMC schools has dropped drastically while there has been a surge in dropout rate. Activists and parents blame the poor quality of education at the BMC schools for the situation.