Modernize school education for better performance
EDUCATION BY BASHARAT SALEEM
Directorate of school education Kashmir recently issued a directive regarding poor performance of the state run schools in matriculate and higher secondary examinations. It also issued instructions for effective monitoring, indicates that this time the authorities have taken the issue into consideration. The poor performance of government run schools manned by a huge numbers of highly paid and qualified teachers has been a serious issue and is often discussed in public circles. It was only after a series of embarrassments that the directorate finally appointed a Fact Finding Committee this year to ascertain the possible causes of poor performance.
The content of the directive indicates the lack of accountability as the major cause and that in fact is true. Teacher’s absenteeism, lack of effective monitoring system, inadequate infrastructure, traditional and distasteful teaching practices and age old bureaucratic dealings in schools are some major bottlenecks that hinder the performance of the state run schools. The weakest link remains the conventionally managed elementary schools. Unfortunately, no serious and expert statistical surveys of achievement levels at different stages – i.e. primary, middle, secondary and higher secondary education – are conducted despite availability of research facilities at state universities and state’s own Economics and Statistics Department.
A cursory look at performance of 5th grade and 8th grade students of state run schools would reveal the sorry state of elementary education in the valley, despite its huge expansion. The gigantic expansion of school education through SSA and RMSA leaves little room for underperformance as adequate number of teachers and logistics have been provided in every part of the state. The financial strength of the schools has also been strengthened.
The annual examination at the end of 8th grade is one of the most controversial and ambiguous procedure that hardly fulfils the purpose for which it is conducted. The department must either wind it up or bring some seriousness in it to improve the quality of elementary education, and also back it up with substantial remedial measures. When significant populations of 8th graders fail to read and write simple sentences, the situation needs drastic corrective measures and regular follow-ups. Blaming students’ economic background and their belonging to lower strata as the reasons for their underperformance is unacceptable.
For better performance of the state run schools and to equip them with a potential to turn into institutes of quality education, the government should start experimenting with modern concepts like decentralization of administration and participatory management of its huge network of schools across the state. It’s very undesirable that for a meagre expenditure of Rs. 300 or 500, a head teacher or headmaster has to make unnecessary rounds to education offices only to be stuck in old-fashioned bureaucratic procedures.
It is appropriate time for the government to involve and empower PRIs, Village Education Committees (VECs), School Management and Development Committee (SMDCs), civil society and NGOs in managing, monitoring and development of its schools according to local strengths, aspirations and needs. The HoDs and teachers at all levels should be given a free hand to run the institutions with a scientific management and monitoring system, which should be put into place to ensure accountability and transparency. They need to be empowered with financial autonomy and encouraged to promote institution building programs, and improvisation like making school buildings and classrooms attractive. The staff of every primary school to high school must be compulsorily ensured to establish and augment a small and open library, science laboratory, other teaching learning material and minimal equipments of entertainment like sports items, musical instruments, educational CDs, maintaining school playgrounds etc. Besides these steps, recreational activities should be provided a due place throughout the academic session to bring a fresh life in apparently ailing, monotonous and unattractive schools, and help them to compete with private sector schools.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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