Making Goans Competitive In A Knowledge Society:
“When I introduced English in Primary schools from Class I onwards, I faced opposition, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Today my stand is vindicated. Even the Knowledge Commission which had been appointed by Government of India with Sam Pitroda as Chairperson, in its report had recommended the introduction of English, to eliminate differences between the haves and have-nots. My vision and my dream is to provide better quality of life, impart quality education and promote employment and self employment opportunities to my fellow citizens.”
As Minister for Education in the Goa Government, Luizinho Faleiro envisioned a ‘Knowledge Driven Society’. The Knowledge and Information Revolution had changed the matrix of not only capital, but development itself. Students had to be nurtured to be stakeholders in wealth creation. Therefore Luizinho’s preeminent goal was to see that children develop knowledge and skills in the knowledge economy and be the drivers of change for tomorrow. Prefacing his Education Policy, Luizinho Faleiro said, ‘The Education Policy aims at making Goa a centre of learning and an educational destination, so that Goans become part of the knowledge driven society.”
To Luizinho’s credit and to the credit of teachers and students, Goa was awarded the Best Performing State in Education, by the India Today group, through His Excellency, then President of India Dr Abdul PJ Kalam.
Knowledge Society Road Map: Towards this goal of a Knowledge Society, the V.A. Pai Panandikar sub-committee on Knowledge Economy set up by Luizinho Faleiro, recommended in 2006, that Goa should cultivate highly skilled workforce and add high value added knowledge industries. Besides the committee also recommended the continuous innovation, identification and utilisation of cutting-edge technology as focal areas.
Development of Knowledge Cities or Knowledge Industrial Parks with the help of private and international investment, R&D Centres, good governance, infrastructure such as roads, power, education, health and related industries were also recommended by the committee to support the knowledge economy and the development of Goa as an Educational Nerve Centre.
To operationalise this yeomen task, even as Goa’s comparative indicators were better than most Indian states, basic education had to be qualitatively improved at all levels — primary, secondary and higher secondary levels. As Education Minister, Luizinho Faleiro made 100% enrolment and retention at the elementary level and qualitative improvement of education at all levels, his focal area. Towards this end, he and his government set up the State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT). Luizinho says that Goa was the only state to have implemented the NCERT syllabus in toto, not only to standardise textbooks and vastly improve learning content, but to enable our students to compete at the national level and produce good results. This initiative was acknowledged by many educationists as well.
English as a compulsory subject: With the introduction of education in the Mother Tongue at Primary Level, the students faced tremendous difficulties in changing over from Konkani to English medium at the Secondary Level. Luizinho immediately saw this deficiency and despite opposition, introduced English as a compulsory subject from Class I to X with consolidated course books to take care of various competencies and minimum levels. Today Luizinho Faleiro stands vindicated, since the necessity of English language cannot be underestimated for a child’s smooth transition to the secondary level and basic competency in the language but also empowers sections of the underprivileged masses.
Qualitative improvement in Education was furthered by establishing Block Resource Centres and Cluster Resource Centres across the State, during the tenure of Luizinho as Education Minister.
Schemes: The introduction of nearly 50 education schemes was another important contribution of Luizinho Faleiro. He personally met HRD Minister Arjun Singh to enquire about Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan who asked him to prepare schemes with specific objectives. Within just two months Luizinho got innovative schemes prepared under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and went to Delhi with the project consisting of 39 components. The HRD ministry accepted all the proposals. On his return to Goa, Luizinho formed the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Society (SSAS) and opened a bank account and implemented the scheme within a record time. Out of his 50 schemes, 39 were under SSAS. The rest were implemented under State Government.
Whatever loopholes existed in education were sought to be plugged through interventions under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Community mobilisation courses were conducted across the state to get the parents on board and to assist schools financially and administratively, since the schools were looked at as a community resource and asset.
Infrastructure: During his tenure as Education Minister, Luizinho Faleiro improved the physical infrastructure, sanitation and security of school students by carrying out large-scale repairs of schools, construction of toilets, classrooms and building compound walls and giving water and electrical connections to schools.
Teacher training: To up-scale the Teaching-Learning Process Luizinho organised teacher training programmes across the state. Secondly, he gave grants to teachers to purchase teaching aids, books, laptops etc to make the process of teaching and learning more interactive and interesting. Special emphasis was given on education of the Girl Child, by opening Fixed Deposit Accounts with Banks for transferring financial assistance for further studies for girls. Special children were given financial support, uniforms, books, travelling allowance and escort allowance and allowance for equipment, once in three years. Mobile School providing multi-level teaching experience to migrant and out-of-school children were also commissioned.
Student Cyberage Scheme: Under Luizinho Faleiro’s tenure as Education Minister, students were given computers under the Student Cyberage Scheme. In addition, computer laboratories were set up for Computer Assisted Learning and Computer Education programmes to facilitate computer literacy for children reading in middle school. Other Supportive measures such as strengthening and improvement of the Centre’s Midday Meal Scheme was initiated to keep children, especially of the economically deprived strata, in school. It was also decided to distribute free text books to all students, reading from Class 1 to Class VIII. Girl students, who faced problems in commuting to school were given cycles, to spend less time in travelling and give more time to their studies.
The Education Policy and related schemes are ample testimony to the nature and extent of commitment Luizinho Faleiro had, as Education Minister and Chief Minister, towards improving education in Goa. Till date it is his endeavour to see that the dreams of every child are nurtured and fulfilled through government intervention. Moreover, it is his appeal to civil society, to join hands and make education a mass movement and to make Goa, educationally the best state in the country.
Quotes from Educationists
“The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Cyberage Scheme and the distribution of bicycles to girls have been Mr. Luizinho Faleiro’s three best schemes. He took education to the remotest corners of Goa so that the underprivileged get much needed education. With the Cyberage Scheme he equipped Goan students with tools to compete globally and empowered girls through the bicycle and other schemes.”
Dr KR Pai,
Principal Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna
“English from Class I benefits mostly the underprivileged since the privileged ones go to English medium schools, because they can afford it. English education is a ladder to higher education and jobs. It reduces the gap between haves and have-nots.” M.S. Kamat
Vice President Murgaon Education Society
” Introduction of NCERT syllabus will bring about the intellectual, physical and emotional development of the child, which is the aim of education. To begin preparing the students to be competent in English right from Std I, without decreasing the importance of mother tongue Konkani, in the primary schools is a very significant decision taken by Mr. Luizinho Faleiro. This decision will go a long way in securing the future of our children,’
Former Speaker of Goa Assembly & Headmaster
“The dropout rate of all students has decreased, the midday meals have helped children from poor background and the NCERT syllabus has raised the standard of education, during the tenure of Education Minister Mr. Luizinho Faleiro,”
Fr. Agnel Polytechnic, Verna
” The introduction of English as a subject at the primary level, keeping in mind the need to help our children to function more effectively in a globalised world, where English is the key to success; appointing a Knowledge Commission to provide a vision and plan for education in Goa; and the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by Education Minister Mr. Luizinho Faleiro are all laudable schemes,”
Nirmala Institute of Education