Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Should Administrators place blind faith on external or visiting Consultants?

There are a few strict no nos. for school administrators today and the greatest is for an administrator  to place excess trust and faith in  external Consultants, for such is the trend today that we outsource most of our work. One area in which administrators tend to outsource their responsibilities is in  I.T. and Computers. In many cases an Administrator who is not tech savvy, or even aware about computers, gets taken for a ride! Once the consultant becomes aware of his client’s lack of knowledge in computers, he begins to take advantage. The first thing that the school administrator should note before taking delivery of computers supplied by the consultant is whether the Operating System is genuine. After checking the originality of the O.S. it should be verified whether the genuine office software has been installed. Often the supplier might fob the client with an open source office software which will not work in the long run! Thus it makes good sense to get a Genuine Office software installed on the machines. After this, another important essential software is a genuine anti-virus software which should be update able on the net. After this basic software has been installed, it has to be seen whether syllabus related software packages have been provided by the Consultant or supplier. Some more syllabus related software could be Tally, Coral Draw, Adobe Photoshop…and so on!
Another latest fad or trend today is for school managements to appoint so called educational consultants to improve the standard of the school. I have known of one such consultant who rather cleverly would ask the teachers for problems and he would make the teachers then suggest their own solutions. What we all found most strange was that this consultant never offered his own solutions or perhaps even suggest some alternative or perhaps even some advice! It was rumored that this gentleman’s consultancy had resulted in the nearly shutting down of a school in Rohini, Delhi! This consultant would visit the school once a week and by the end of the year his visits had resulted in an increase of internal bickering and discord amongst the staff members. The Management finally woke up to what was going on and then discontinued the services of the so called Educational consultant!
So then does it mean that all consultants are out for a killing? Answer would be no, we can’t generalize the former query, but then it still makes good sense for the school administrator to make his own decisions and wisdom. As far as the need for employing an I.T. consultant, well it makes good sense for the Administrator of the school to appoint an M.C.A. from a good university who can help in the setting up of a computer lab, and then also work as a computer teacher. The role of a visiting Education Consultant can also be done away by appointing a permanent Counselor, preferably a post graduate in Psychology,The Counselor can also take active teaching duties in the subjects he or she is qualified to teach.
Excess dependence on visiting Consultants might prove to be detrimental in the long run. It is better to develop in-house consultants from within the existing teaching and clerical staff. Having in service work shops for staff is very important and should not be ignored whether they are subject based, or based on general life-skills! Most Administrators in the urban areas or metros are I.T./Computer Savvy, but there are still a large number of Administrators who are completely ignorant about computers. For them, I would suggest that they should go in for a crash course in computer basics! Doing so would be cheaper in the long run. One of my acquaintances once told me about a  visiting computer consultant who visited his school from another state. He was very expensive because the onus of accommodating him in one of the most expensive hotels rested on the school itself. To make matters worse he had a huge unassailable appetite, and a loud voice, and didn’t seem to do really much. The accounting software  supplied was full of glitches and all blame was put on the poor clerk who fed data into the computer. The fact that this fellow came from another state meant that problems that required his attention were resolved after a gap of one month! The Consultant ended up botching the installation of the CCTVS in the school so much so that more than half of cameras had stopped working within a month, and the SMPS of three CPUs. caught fire within three months! This consultant was even privy to some of the administrative secrets of the management and boasted that he even advised them on important policy matters this because his constant presence close to a defective computer meant that he could hear everything that was being said!

Ultimately, I have heard of the story where this particularly cunning visiting consultant had the temerity of fitting cameras and mics almost in every nook and corner in schools and offices where he went. The images recorded through his hidden cameras and the voices recorded on them resulted in the downfall of an important personality in Delhi. Now this particular person is reveling in  what he has done. I can only add that one has to be very careful when giving your computers and networking to an external consultant who has no accountability towards the organization other than the person who might have hired him!

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