Blaming a teacher for the poor performance in government schools can be an easy way out. Administrative loop holes can get easily hidden, corruption by Babus will not be focused, irregularities in the funding and lack of infrastructure will not be noticed, selective adjustment of influential will continue, and teacher will be the scapegoat. Job done.
Changing the education system needs a policy shift, overhaul of the whole system, an honest effort and not just media hype. Though the questions raised by civil society, intellectuals, think tanks and recently by the education minister about the performance of government schools are genuine, but we need to find honest answers, blame game will take us no where. It is beyond doubt that despite the best qualified staff with handsome salaries government schools performance is below par. But who is responsible for such a mess, just teachers?
Few experiences of mine with the education department made lot of things clear for me about our education system. I had my first experience with the messy education system of Kashmir as Ret teacher. It was such a pathetic experience for me that I left the job within a month. The newly sanctioned school was opened in cowshed, kitchen garden was its play ground, five classes were managed in a single room, illumination was worse, with such an environment one can easily expect the outcome. The environment was pathetic, how can students get stimulated in such an environment. Who is to blame? Ret teacher who is desperate to find a job? Or the system? And how many SSA schools have been distributed like candies? Thousands, with pathetic environment, which show progress and work only on papers.
My second experience with education department was only two years later when I got selected as a general line teacher, however my second experience was not any different from the earlier one. This time what I witnessed first was posting mess. Neither posting was done as per the need in schools nor as per qualification. Influential candidates got posting of their choice and those who bribed Babus dictated posting as well. Requirement in schools, qualification, roll in schools etc were not the criteria.
Anyway I joined in Middle school, and what was shocking for me, was to see that the entire school had the roll of forty (40) only. From class 1st to 8th 40 students only, wow! And when I looked around, the atmosphere was suffocating. I really felt vomiting to see the dirt in and around the school. No fencing, dark rooms, dirty bathrooms, cracked walls and broken windows were enough to speak of the corruption and irregularities done in funds and school construction. I was surprised to see the courage of the parents of those forty students to send their kids to such a school environment.
There is need of honest efforts and concrete steps at all levels to correct our education system and not just media inspection. For example the first focus of our education system should be on development of schooling environment in government schools. Developing a well school environment does not mean just allotting funds, or media inspection of few schools, its means the overhaul of the entire system, it means proper vigil on utilization of funds, development of infrastructure, fencing of school premises, attractive class rooms, use of technologies in teaching learning in schools, emphasis on cleanliness, updating books, monthly evaluation of students, monthly reporting on progress of students, inter government school debates and discussions and tournaments, making professional student counselling and parental counselling an important component of government schools, and off course proper accountability of teachers but also of clerks, ZEOs, CEOs and others involved in our education system.
While teaching social science to fourth class students I realized the importance of mother tongue as the medium of instruction, or at least the necessity of English language development (specifically at primary level) as my students were able to understand everything in Kashmiri and answer every question of mine in Kashmiri but were not able to understand the same in English or answer in English. All subjects (except other languages) in the present education system are in English so I feel the only alternative for better teaching learning in government schools is development of English langue up to 5th standard and then only introduce subjects like social science, science and maths etc, though my critics may come up with thousands of theories and explanations against my opinion but I feel theories, discussions and debates will not help us in solving problems, we have to come up with practical and concrete solutions. Understanding and comprehension of subject matter is the only key for better learning and creative development. Cramming without understanding will make their minds rotten. We have to stimulate the minds of our students and if they dont understand what they study (as the subject matter is not in the language they live), how can we claim they are really learning and not just cramming.
Another important factor responsible for poor performance of students in government school is less parental care of students. I found in my little experience that mostly the parents of students of government school either do not provide enough help to their children at home, or they are not in a position to provide such help. Homework assigned is mostly not complete, uniforms are usually dirty, their books torn etc. The responsibility of all such mess lies on parents. Proper family counselling and some very basic maintenance for education of students can be a good solution in this regard.
Similarly the standard of books in government schools is also very low. The books in government schools are different from that of private schools. Though the content is somewhat similar at higher level, however the books of private schools are attractive, decorated, and very clearly written and many concepts are explained with the help of clear graphs and pictures which is not the case in government schools.
Further a continuous training policy for teachers, incentives and reward system on the basis of their performance will also improve our education system and finally a continuous research on teaching learning can help us better understand the loop holes in our education system and develop proper policies for the same.
Students learning and performance is a multifactor process and teacher alone cannot be held responsible.
Author is a government teacher and can be reached at: <[email protected]>
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