From Saroj Sharma in Ahmedabad
Former Human Resource Development Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi may have earned brickbats both from the elitist Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as well as the collective wrath of the Left parties and the Congress for his agenda for saffronising education, but nobody has deemed it fit to hand him over any bouquet for attempts to modernize school education which were initiated during his tenure.
One such novel attempt to make schools more competent in dealing with the changing face of society was an initiative launched by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) way back in 2001 to conduct courses jointly with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad for school principals of CBSE affiliated schools. The week-long programme entitled ?Strategic leadership for Schools in a changing environment? aims to impart strategic management and leadership for schools in today'srapidly changing world when many institutions of our society are passing through a challenging phase. The situation is even more complex and critical for educational institutions, as what happens to them today is likely to determine what will happen to our society in future. The
programme is an attempt to examine such issues and evolve strategies to address them.
Furthermore, the thrust area of the course is manifold and includes managing human resources and implementing suitable systems of appraisal, evaluation and feedback
For a course that is so popular and for which the IIMA is charging Rs 20,000 as fees per person, nobody is even bothering to give kudos to Dr MM Joshi. In fact, it is the IIMA which is trying to hog the entire credit
for teachers and staff, facilitating personal growth along with institutional development, introducing and managing change at institutional level, role of information technology in management of schools,
interpersonal communication, managing innovations in schools and establishing effective interface with all stakeholders.
Over the past three years, principals of over 200 CBSE
affiliated schools from all parts of the country have already participated in these training courses. Selection of the schools is done by the CBSE itself and while the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodya Vidyalayas have so far not participated since they have separate governing bodies, it is expected that they too will start participating shortly. What is more, the programme has become so popular that even the Indian School Certificate Education (ICSE) schools have also expressed the desire to participate in the programme. Speaking to Organiser, the principals of several schools who participated in this year'sprogramme held at the IIMA from September 6 to 11 described the course as immensely beneficial. According to the course coordinator and faculty member Dr Rajeev Sharma, ?the thrust of the programme is to train principals to deal with the competitive environment and the growing demands of parents. In an era where parents hardly have any time to devote to their children. They have become like consumers with increasing demands from the schools and it is the schools that have to learn to cope with the situation.? Almost endorsing this, the principal of a school from Trissur says, ?unlike in the olden days, schools are no longer run under trees where gurus impart education to a limited number of shishyas. Today schools are almost like corporate bodies with hundreds of students and many teachers to deal with. Even the accountability of schools is much higher whether towards the parents who are paying such high fees and expect value for money or the school boards which are running schools on a professional basis.? Yet another principal who has come all the way from Udupi says ?the course addresses a lot of our concerns and anxieties and though most of what is taught is already being implemented by us in our school, it has definitely given me the confidence to carry on with more credibility since it teaches us to do the things. We are already doing in a much more scientific way.? For a course that is so popular and for which the IIMA is charging Rs 20,000 as fees per person. In such a situation nobody is even bothering to give kudos to Dr M.M. Joshi who had mastermind behind the innovative programme. In fact, it is the IIM which is trying to hog the entire credit for the programme. Going by the vindictive attitude of the new HRD Minister Arjun Singh, however, even the IIMA should be careful. Because if he finds out when such a creditable effort was launched, he'ssure to spike it. A classic case of cutting his nose to spite his face.