Towards a better education system

Focus on the quality of education at the primary level to achieve better results



It is result time, pick up a morning newspaper and you will come across numerous ads carrying photographs of students who have passed their 10th class annual exam with good marks. The scores and names of the institutions are printed in bold letters as the schools like to take the credit for their performance. The bad performance of government schools is debated for long time, but none addresses the root cause of the problem and comes up with a better solution.
On one hand private schools show results worth appreciation, and on the other hand some of the government schools continue to perform badly.  This is ironically followed by penalties for the teachers and management of these institutions where students underperform. Most of us put the onus of bad performance on the heads of the teachers who taught students in the government schools in question.
In all this hype, all the limelight is shared between just two brackets. Firstly, schools whose students score highest percentage of marks are rewarded and the government schools that fail to even make a pass percentile face de-recognition and humiliation. As soon as the result sheets of the underperforming schools are out, the only thing that the Government and the public in general will do is to humiliate the heads of the institutions and the Senior Secondary teachers by stopping their increments and withholding their wages. We have never heard of any other better approach than this. And no wonder, nothing ever got better. The results continue to be the same. The real point is, does anyone of us even stop to think what the real problem is. This is what we need to think about seriously.
In my opinion the blame can’t be wholly and solely put on the teachers at the secondary level as the problem is multi-factorial. The root cause lies in the system where the stress is laid only on the results of Junior and Senior Secondary level, but the Primary education, where the raw material is actually shaped, is the most neglected one. Although we have achieved a lot in the education sector in the secondary level, but we need to focus on the primary level of education, since no strong construction can stand on a weak foundation. And unfortunately the carry-on system, where the children with weak performance are not stopped at any level, adds to the problem. 
The problem is not just at the secondary level of education; but at the primary level where the sapling first sprouts. And the question is whether we are able to give the required environment to this sapling for sprouting at this level. It is from here the child’s brain takes its direction like a moulding of clay on the potter’s wheel. The raw minds inculcate quickly whatever we teach them. Unfortunately in our system of education the primary school level is the most neglected sphere. The repercussion of this negligence is seen in the forthcoming years of the child development. And then finally, by the time they enter the world of competition, they fail to make a mark and the blame again is put on the helpless teachers at secondary level.
To help free the education system from this mess, a few measures need to be implemented.
The focus of attention by the government needs to be shifted to the primary school level. To start with, we need to revisit the carry on system at Primary and Middle school levels, due to which the students with weak performances cannot be detained in the same class for more than one year in spite of their underperformance, which finally deteriorates the quality of education.
Secondly, good infrastructure along with trained, dedicated and well-versed staff must be available at the primary level.  And if this aspect is neglected, nothing can help at the higher levels. Besides, we have to keep in mind that inadequate teacher knowledge and skills, limited teacher experience, assigning subjects to teachers in which they are not trained in; low teacher morale, ineffective leadership and inadequate resources are common causes of school failure. We can’t ignore that there are adequate number of Government schools which lack the basic facilities like drinking water and toilets.
The teachers at the primary level need to realize the importance of the job they have been assigned, and that they are not just delivering lectures but moulding the future of a whole new generation. We have to realize that students from low socioeconomic status, who can’t afford to get educated in the private sector, are the worst sufferers and it is our moral and social obligation to push their future towards the right direction.
Poverty and diversity create challenges for individual student learning, that many schools are ill equipped to address and it is not a surprise for us that disproportionate number of Government Schools that show poor performance are located in high poverty zones. But we can’t deny that high- poverty schools can achieve high academic performance with the support of the government, effective leadership and dedication of the staff. These schools will overcome the negative influence of social disadvantage through a variety of strategies, approaches, and interventions, all centrally and persistently aimed at improving the teaching - learning process.
Time has come for all of us to join hands, step forward and pledge to reshape the system. We need to stop blaming each other and act responsibly. Short term measures won’t help; we need to broaden our vision and think of the future. Let us work together for the bright future of our generation next.

(Rehana  Jabeen is Lecturer Botany at Girls Higher Secondary School Amirakadal. Feedback

Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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