The average government run school in Nagaland is likely to be a dingy, dilapidated place without access to basic infrastructure and with too few teachers. True, just having great school infrastructure is not sufficient to improve learning outcomes, but it is certainly a necessary condition.
Last week, The Morung Express published a report about the plight of Ghowoto Government Primary School (GPS) under Dhansiripar Sub-Division, Dimapur.
The classrooms in this school are demarcated with only half constructed walls, in addition to the absence of ceiling fans and window panes.
The primary school, which caters to the educational needs of 40 students, has reportedly not received any funds for maintenance.
Compounding the school’s woes is the dismal implementation of the Mid Day Meal (MDM) Scheme, which has been designed by the central government to improve nutritional intake of school children. The primary school in Ghowoto reportedly receives only 3 bags of 50 kilo rice in 2-3 months and no other nourishment. This is meant to feed the forty students in the school.
The scenario at Ghowoto Government Primary School is only the latest highlighted example of the obscene conditions under which most government educational institutions are run in the state.
A survey conducted by the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) earlier in the year had found more damning evidence about the sorry state of government schools here.
The survey revealed among other things that only 48% of government schools had partial RCC construction; 97% had no hostel facilities; 54% had no electricity connection; 89% had no libraries; 61% had no computers; 77% had no boundary walls; and 42% had no drinking water facilities.
Add to this milieu of problems the high rate of absenteeism of teachers as well as students in government schools.
The State Government, at least in rhetoric, seems not unaware of the problems facing the government run education sector in Nagaland. Several officials from the state education authority have come up condemning the practice of proxy teachers, while espousing the need to develop a strategy towards providing a strategy to better government school education.
Research has found that schools facilities have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. Better infrastructure and facilities affect teacher recruitment, retention, and the effort they put in their work.
And for students it affects their health, behaviour, learning and growth in general and academically. Without sufficient facilities and resources it is extremely difficult cater the needs of large number of children with complex needs.
Thus, quality of facilities is an important predictor of teacher retention and student learning. Establishing safe and healthy buildings is essential for the physical and emotional learning of students.
Improving the quality of school facilities is an expensive undertaking; and it will particularly be difficult in the scenario facing Nagaland today. However, the rewards of such investments are far better than the costs.
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