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Staff stay back to brush up on quality;Briefing

India. International.

THIS summer, 170,353 primary teachers in the state of Maharashtra, have been put on an intensive 12-day training course called SMART-PT.

The aim of the massive programme is to maximise school enrolment, retain potential drop-outs and improve drastically the quality of education.

The initial tab of 100 million rupees for this experiment, the first of its kind, has been picked up by the state government, which is a pioneer in the field of educational reform.

Attendance in these special classes has been almost 100 per cent because the state government intends to deny absentees the "attendance certificate" that makes them eligible to teach.

"The idea is to introduce greater interaction in which children do not perceive the teacher as a know-all nor find their subjects daunting," said master trainer Annie D'Souza.

"We are trying to move away from an exam-orientated system to the less stressful procedure of evaluating performance in the classroom."

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