5th subject mess: Round pegs in square holes!
Students Suffer As Courses Go On Without Teachers, Infrastructure
STATE OF EDUCATION
Srinagar, Apr 25: At a time when the Jammu and Kashmir government is boasting of imparting quality education, the Higher Secondary Schools in Jammu and Kashmir are taking a toll on academics of thousands of students who are suffering in absence of infrastructure and subject-specific teachers for the 5th subject.
In 2004, subjects like Functional English, Environmental Sciences, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Applied Mathematics, Electronics, and Information Technology were introduced as 5th subjects in the Higher Secondary institutions. The same were made “compulsory” from 2008.
But the subjects, according to students and experts, were introduced without the creation of staff and infrastructure, leading to “deterioration” in the quality of education besides affecting the results.
In scores of schools across the state, Biotechnology is taught by Zoology teachers, and the marking of the answer scripts is done by Chemistry teachers. Similarly, Environmental Science is taught by Chemistry teachers, and the marking is done by Zoology or Botany teachers—a fact clearly admitted by the Jammu and Kashmir Lecturers Forum, an association of Plus-Two lecturers.
“It is like round pegs in square holes,” said the Forum president, Muhammad Usman Malik. “It is unfortunate that the subjects were introduced without any manpower, infrastructure or a sound policy vis-à-vis admissions to 5th subjects.”
There are about 600 higher secondary schools in Jammu and Kashmir, 300 in the Kashmir Valley alone. But there is hardly any infrastructure in place for the subjects, which, according to students, were of practical nature. “It is really pathetic that subjects like Biotechnology and Biochemistry are taught in absence of laboratory facilities and subject-specific teachers,” said Zahid Farooq (name changed), a student of SP Higher
Secondary School. “Every year scores of students do their post-graduation in the subjects from Kashmir University. They could be easily engaged to teach the 5th subjects. But there is nobody to listen to us.”
According to Usman, the Government created some 200 posts recently for the 5th subjects, and the same were referred to the Public Service Commission. “The posts are yet to be filled,” he said. “Only a couple of recruitment notifications have been issued by the PSC so far as the 5th subject is concerned.”
Usman blames the State Board of School Education for the problems besetting the 5th subject students. “It was Board that came up with a syllabus and introduced the subject. In 2008, about 8000 students failed in one go in the Environmental Sciences because of the paucity of staff and infrastructure,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Though in some schools, subject-specific teachers have been engaged, the Teachers Forum believes they were not accountable. “A contractual teacher finishes the assignment in October. If the result in his subject is bad, there is nobody to question him. So contractuals serve no purpose,” Usman said.
Like Usman, several academics believe the government must put requisite infrastructure in place in the Higher Secondary Schools so that the students don’t suffer. “There have to be clear cut policy guidelines as to how you can admit students for the fifth subject. You are asking a student of Urdu to study Biotechnology or Biochemistry. What if he or she is not interested in doing that,” said a teacher at the Government Higher Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar.
He said the posts need be filled immediately. “Otherwise the students are bound to suffer, and we will continue to see the deterioration in the quality of education,” he added.
Usman believes the lack of infrastructure tells upon the results at the end. “If normally we had 60 to 65 percent result, it gets down to 45 percent because of this fifth subject mess,” he said, “Let the government fill the vacancies as soon as possible so that the institutions function normally, and the students are not made to suffer.”
The Director, School Education, Kashmir, Shaguta Parveen, could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 25 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 25 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 26 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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