Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

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    In News

    • The Union government is pushing to set up 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) for tribal students.

    About EMRS

    • The EMRS model was first introduced in 1997-98.
    • Aim: 
      • To provide quality education to tribal students with residential facilities in remote corners. 
      • To build schools at par with the Jawahar Navoday Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas. 
    • Before 2018-19:
      • The scheme was overseen by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs with maximum control of identifying new schools, recruiting, management and admissions lying with State governments. 
      • The guideline of the scheme noted that States and Union Territories would be responsible for seeking sanction of new schools as and when they needed it. 
      • The funds for these schools were to come from the grants under Article 275(1).
      • The guidelines mandated that unless States finished constructing the schools sanctioned by the Centre, they would not be entitled to funds for new ones. 
      • Apart from the infrastructural requirements of 20-acre plots for each EMRS, the guidelines did not have any criteria of where the EMRS could be set up, leaving it to the discretion of State governments.
    • Revamping of the EMRS scheme in 2018-19:
      • The new guidelines gave the Union government more power to sanction schools and manage them. 
      • A National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS) was set up and entrusted with the management of the State Education Society for Tribal Students (SESTS), which would run the EMRS on the ground.
      • The new guidelines set a target of setting up an EMRS in every tribal sub-district and introduced a population criteria for setting them up. 
      • The new guidelines also reduced the minimum land requirement from 20 acres to 15 acres. 
    • Population Criteria:
      • One EMRS in every sub-district that has at least a 20,000-odd Scheduled Tribe population, which must be 50% of the total population in that area. 
    • Concerns:
      • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Ministry noted this year that the population criteria was “impractical” and needed an “immediate review”.
      • The population criteria were making identification and acquisition of land “more cumbersome”, especially in hilly areas, leftwing extremism-affected areas and the northeast. 
      • A large number of schools were being delayed because of the area (15 acre) requirement.
      • Shortage of teachers: While the new guidelines allowed NESTS to suggest measures for teacher recruitment, they never mandated that States follow it.

    Current Status

    • The Tribal Affairs Ministry insists on maintaining the new criteria
    • As of November, a total of 688 schools have been sanctioned, of which 392 are functional. 
    • Of the 688, 230 have completed construction and 234 are under construction, with 32 schools still stuck due to land acquisition issues. 
    • After approval by the Expenditure Department, all SESTS will be scrapped and regional offices will be set up under the control of NESTS, which will be in charge of recruitment. 
    • The ministry says this will solve teacher shortage issues faced by the EMRS network.

    Relevance of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) 

    • Students will be empowered to be change agents, beginning in their school, in their homes, in their village and finally in a larger context.
    • EMRS can impart quality education to Scheduled Tribes (ST) children in remote areas that will  benefit ST students immensely.
    • All students enrolled in would be benefitted from comprehensive physical, mental and socially relevant development.

    Challenges of Education amongst the Tribals in India

    • Distinct Culture & Languages:
      • The tribal communities have their own cultures, values, traditions, practices, beliefs and lifestyles. 
      • They speak different languages and depend upon natural resources to meet their needs and requirements. 
    • Psychological Problems: 
      • The financial problems amongst the tribal communities are severe. 
      • They reside in the conditions of poverty, do not possess monetary resources and practice the barter system.
    • Unwillingness of Tribals:
      • The tribal communities are mostly illiterate, therefore, they express unwillingness towards the acquisition of education by their children. 
    • Attitude of the Tribal Teachers:
      • Teachers do not make much effort to improve the educational levels of the tribal students.
    • Lack of Proper Guidance:
      • The backwardness and unawareness of the tribal communities do not avail proper guidance to their children. 

    Way Ahead

    • Literacy Campaigns:
      • It is crucial to organize a proper awareness campaign to spread the information amongst the tribal communities regarding the significance of education.
    • Appointment of Local Teachers and Female Teachers:
      • It is suggested to employ more tribal teachers and female teachers in the tribal areas. 
      • The environmental, ethnic, cultural, and psychological characteristics of the tribal children should be considered carefully by the teachers within tribal communities.
    • Use of Technology:
      • The digital initiative can enable the professional development of educators, enabling them to use technology in classrooms.
      • Steps need to be taken to enable education equity, providing equal opportunity and access for the next generation of learners and educators from schools.
    • Proper Monitoring:
      • Higher level officials should check the functioning of the schools located in tribal areas on a frequent basis, particularly relating to the teaching-learning methods, working hours, and attendance registers.

    Source: TH