Tony Blair Institution, India 15 top NGOs to aid Tripura in quality education

Agartala, Nov 21: The London-based Tony Blair Institution and 15 of India's top NGOs will support Tripura to provide quality education, smart management of the academic systems, improve the skills of students and teachers, train teachers with a modern outlook, empower women and ensure girls' safety and hygiene.

Academicians largely welcomed the Tripura government's decision to engage the NGOs to improve the quality of education in the state but they asked the government to disclose the specific tasks of these NGOs and the financial burden on the government.

Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said that the state government would soon sign an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the institution.

"The Tony Blair Institution would help Tripura to reform the State Council of Educational Research and Training and District Institution and Education and Training.

"It would impart teaching in global communication in making our students aged 13 to 17 years global citizens," Nath told IANS.

He said that during the past 44 months, the state government has introduced many schemes including implementation of the Central Board of Secondary Education curriculum and introduction of English in a large number of schools, to enable the students to come up to not only national but also international standards.

Over 7,06,000 students study in Tripura's around 5,000 schools, including 403 private ones.

The Minister said that the state government had earlier decided to engage 16 NGOs, including the Tony Blair Institution, to overhaul the entire education management and to provide quality education to the school students.

"In response to our initiatives, in all 29 national and international NGOs have agreed to help our educational system, but through a series of processes we selected India's top 15 NGOs and the Tony Blair Institution. A few of them had already started their work and we also signed MoUs with them."

Giving the details of the NGOs' specific tasks and responsibilities, Nath said that the Hyderabad-based "Voice 4 Girls" NGO would guide the women on how to empower and teach the girl students about safety and hygiene while the Cheshta Care Foundation in New Delhi would share skills in educating children through storytelling.

Bengaluru's Vision Empower would provide training to the teachers to work with blind children, Mumbai's Sterlite Tech Foundation would give competency based teaching and assessment by integrating technology in training and classroom teaching through setting up smart classes.

The Minister said that the Bengaluru-based Azim Premji University would help in strengthening the Tripura Board of Secondary Education with training in leadership, academics and administration while New Delhi-based American Indian Foundation would share knowledge about child protection policy for hostels and setting up of Learning Resource Centres.

The Minister said that most of the NGOs are getting funds from the Central government and various corporates under the Corporate Social Responsibility scheme, hence the Tripura government would have to spend very little on the services and knowledge of these organisations.

He said that the Tripura government would also soon introduce a new scheme -- �Mother on Campus' -- so that mothers rotationally can stay with their children in the government run hostels.

"The new scheme would help the students specially the girl students to concentrate on their education and they would not feel lonely while staying in the hostels," he said.

Academician Professor Mihir Deb said that if the NGOs can improve the quality of education and there would not be extra financial burden on the parents and guardians of the students, then the scheme is welcome.

"Government should be clear about the conditions and responsibilities in engaging the NGOs in the education sector. There are deficiencies in imparting proper and quality teaching in school education. There is a shortage of teachers and adequate infrastructure, the government should also look after these aspects," Deb told IANS.

Appreciating the government's efforts, another academician Abhijit Bhattacherjee said that with the engagement of the NGOs, students of Tripura are expected to benefit to a large extent and also master the skills to obtain advanced knowledge.

"Exchange of ideas, sharing of knowledge and up to date facts and information are always good for the learners. With the engagement of the NGOs, students of Tripura would be able to know the latest topics and world affairs," Bhattacherjee, principal of northeast India's largest professional institute "School of Science", told IANS.