The Trickle-Down Effect

Reaching out to the Ground Level- From Government to Commoners

Dr Palika Arora
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She is a dentist by qualification and the mother of two lovely children. Calm, focused and positive- meet the 2016 batch PCS officer Dr Palika Arora, the new Director, School Education (Chandigarh), who aims to ensure that the government schemes in the field of Education reach the actual beneficiaries, writes Dr. Neha Miglani, Editor-in-Chief, The Lifestyle Journalist Magazine

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Education Department Chandigarh recieves a lot of grants for the effective implementation of govt schemes at the grass root level. My target is to bridge that gap between planning and implementation and to assure that each and every component is properly utilized.

Samagra Shiksha is the prime scheme of the govt. For the Children with Special needs we have trained instructors. We are now focusing on their academics,sports and skill impartment. We have home based students as well whose needs are catered separately. Under our project Kilkaari…Early childhood care and education lab is being setup at Dhanas and training is being imparted to all primary and pre primary teachers. Focus is to fortify strength of our teachers by conducting regular training and evaluation so that they can deliver their best.

What is your agenda for Chandigarh Schools?

Several schemes and funds that the government has allocated through the Chandigarh Administration need to reach the final beneficiaries on the ground. So I am in the process of checking how this can be done effectively. For instance, Atal Tinkering Lab is an excellent initiative and flagship program of GOI. Selected schools get a Rs 20 lakh grant to set up a lab to cultivate an innovative mindset amongst high school students. Under Samagra Shikha Abhiyan (which subsumes schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education), Rs 50,000 has been earmarked per school for setting up primary classrooms based on ECCE model.

The real benefit of all government schemes needs to reach students, teachers and schools. Filling this gap is my priority, and there is a plan of action for this. Setting up the Early Childhood Care lab (ECC), conducting training sessions for school teachers, educating them on e-learning tools are steps in this direction.

How does one fill the learning loss of children during COVID-19?

There is a severe issue of comprehending skills among children. It is a significant concern. To be successful, our children need to be good at comprehending. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of learning loss during the pandemic. Our teaching practices need to be upgraded too. We are reviewing this loss and bringing accountability. Once identified, the loss of children during the COVID-19 pandemic can be bridged.

The mental wellbeing of our children is a top priority, and we have collaborated with PGIMER psychiatrists to counsel students. Yoga has been included as a fundamental and essential part of school education, and we eventually want to put a policy in place.

Parents raise the expectation bar so much that children cannot cope up sometimes, and it affects their overall personality. Lack of confidence is a massive issue with our school children, and we want to work in that direction.

There is a constant tiff between administration/government and private schools. How do you plan to handle it?

Whatever are the genuine concerns and problems of private, we are always willing to resolve and help out on those. Likewise, if someone approaches the education department, we are ready to address all genuine issues.

Would you please share about your family and how you spend your spare time?

I have two children, an 8-month-old son and a 2.5-year-old daughter. My husband is posted in Ludhiana as DSP, and his family is originally from Patiala. We got married in 2018. My mother and brother reside in Kharar. When not at work, I spend most of my time with my two children, so there is hardly any time for a hobby at the moment!