In the mineral-rich districts of Chhattisgarh, predominantly inhabited by tribal communities, one often hears tales of exploitation and violence. The actors in these tales are government officials and insurgents or non-state actors.
One district, however, is rapidly changing that perception by the efforts of one doctor-turned Indian Administrative Service Officer.
Jashpur’s District Collector Priyanka Shukla started an initiative called ‘Yashaswi Jashpur’ (Successful Jashpur) in July 2016 under its Mission Sankalp to further quality education across higher secondary and high schools.
The initiative uses funds generated by the District Mineral Foundation (DMF), a trust established in districts affected by mining activities funded by contributions from miners.
What Shukla has done is to effectively utilise DMF funds to initiate a systemic change of school education in the district, and the results have been impressive.
As reported in The New Indian Express, nearly 51 out of 143 government schools in the district achieved 100% pass percentage in the recent Class X and XII State Board exams. It is remarkable for a district 300 km from the state capital of Raipur, with advasis making up 67% of the population.
Out of 77 private schools, 22 achieved 100% results in these exams. For Jashpur, where a school would achieve 100% results once in a blue moon, this is a significant leap.
The district also boasts of a significantly higher pass percentage with 89% for Class X and 93.5% for Class XII, while the State average is 68% and 77% respectively.
How did the district achieve such success?
Shukla told The Sunday Standard, the weekend edition of The New Indian Express, “Several activities were introduced in the annual calendar of events for the government higher secondary and high schools under the guidance of Team Sankalp and the education department officials. There were monthly reviews, and the next course of action was planned based on the feedback.”
The district administration, led by the Collector, would conduct orientation sessions for Class X and XII teachers and school principals at the onset of every academic session.
Objectives and action plans were set for every landmark in the academic schedule—monthly, half-yearly, and two pre-board examinations. Mock question papers were set every month and distributed to all school principals, who would pass it onto their teachers.
A student’s performance, meanwhile, was assessed at every juncture and posted on the Yashaswi Jashpur website set up by the district administration. This would allow the IAS officer and her team of officials from the education department to assess the progress.
Students struggling with the course were given special attention, while teachers attended video conference sessions to iron out their problems with the authorities. A strict monitoring regime was also put in place to check student and teacher attendance.
To ensure that these schools were following up on the administration’s efforts, moderators were deputed, who then reported to the district education officer and the collector. Finally, 40 days ahead of the board exams, schools would conduct diligent revision sessions under the administration’s ‘Mission 40-days’.
The results of these efforts are there for all to see. The topper of the State board exams, Yagyesh Singh Chouhan, scoring 98.33%, comes from the district.
However, this isn’t the only success story coming out of this IAS officer’s district. Last August, the local administration assisted a self-help group of victims of human trafficking to open their own bakery in a Kansabel town of Jashpur district. Called the Beti Zindabad Bakery, it was started by 20 girls, although the number has since dwindled to 10 with some of them getting married.
“Being a lady collector, it has always been my dream to see each girl of Jashpur stand on her own feet. Given their special circumstances, I was very keen to see this happen as soon as possible so that apart from being self-sufficient, they can be an inspiration for all the girls of the district. In fact, that was the thought behind finalising the name of the ‘Beti Zindabad Bakery’,” Shukla told The Indian Express.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)