‘Phoenix’ to keep a hawk’s eye on Chandigarh govt school students’ performance

Chahat Rana
Chandigarh Education Secretary B L Sharma

The performance of every government school student in Chandigarh will now be monitored by a mobile application — ‘Phoenix’. The app was introduced by Chandigarh Education Secretary B L Sharma on Wednesday at the New India Education Summit held in the city. The introduction of the mobile application is the latest to the list of reforms brought to the education department by Sharma — removal of ‘grace marks’ system, introducing “no bags” day and launching mobile anganwadi vans to serve children of migrant labourers are some of them.

“I am not an educator, but an administrator. My aim here is to fortify the structure of delivering education to make it dynamic, efficient and accountable. Anyone in the future who follows that structure will meet the desired goals in terms of quality of education,” said B L Sharma, who will retire in December.

The application follows the administration’s earlier efforts to collect data on students in accordance with prescribed learning outcomes, and hold teachers accountable for their pedagogical lapses.  “The point of Project Phoenix is to make sure that government teachers focus on each and every student’s performance, as is done in private schools. With individual focus and a strict system of accountability, the teachers will have to make sure that students perform or give extra attention to those who do not perform well,” Sharma told Chandigarh Newsline.

The application currently has data of 92,000 students enrolled in government schools up till class eighth. As many as 3,500 teachers are responsible in collecting data on these students and updating this information every month. This data is reviewed by the school principals at a preliminary level and later by administrators from the education department, supervising officials and the education secretary himself.

The performance level of the students is segregated into four categories: A for 80% and above, B for 60% to 70%, C for 45% to 59% and D for students scoring below 44% in terms of prescribed learning outcomes.  Three handbooks highlighting the specifics of these learning outcomes have already been circulated amongst teachers to familiarize them with the project in January this year.

Sharma believes that if successful, this model of student evaluation could be introduced in other states and union territories in the country. As for the private sector, Atul Khanna, principal of Chandigarh’s Strawberry Fields High School said that such a system has been place in his school since a long time. “We have such a system, but it is internal. We do not share this data with anybody but we do regulate the performance of each of our students,” said Khanna.

Sharma states that he wants the future of government school students to be as bright as those that attend elite private schools. “The idea is to maintain a very solid structure of checks and balances. Often there is negligence by teachers and parents of children enrolled in these schools. We need to put more people on the ground to ensure that the system is followed diligently and no child’s education is compromised. Otherwise no matter what app we put in place, things won’t change for these children,” concluded Sharma.