Dismal Performance of Government Schools

Teachers alone cannot be held responsible



With the slogan of Universalisation of Elementary Education, made to achieve through the programs of SSA and secondary education through RMSA, substantial achievement has been made in increasing enrollment and retention of children in schools. Now when the primary target of universal enrollment and retention is almost at its peak, another vital issue of quality education has been made the focused area of our educational priorities. However for providing quality education, there is a strong need to improve not only the infrastructure of our government schools, but there is a dire need to streamline and strengthen the accountability mechanisms of the administrative components of our school education department.
About the performance of the government schools in the recently declared 10th and 12th class results, baring few, almost all schools were applauded for their good performance. Not only this, but many of the schools, both government and private who performed exceptionally well, were formally felicitated for their excellent performance by the concerned government officials of the department. Even government also decided to reward the headmasters and the principals of such government schools. On the other hand, all those teachers who showed poor performance (among them twelve schools showed zero percent results) were severely criticized and threatened of punitive action against them. The government said that no excuse will be accepted, neither staff shortage nor poor infrastructure for their poor performance in the recently declared board results. Even politicians, bureaucrats, civil society and general public did not spare them for their dismal performance. This concern of people about the recent performance of government schools is genuine as they send their innocent children to these schools with the hope that they will receive good education. Moreover, the public investments in education sector are increasing with no matching output in most of the institutions.
On the other hand, when government schools perform well, the credit is shared by all. However, if they fail to perform, it is the teacher only who is held responsible for it. Isn't it injustice with the teaching community? I shall not support teachers to cover up their failures but the fact is that when a teacher fails, every other person concerned with the teacher fails and is equally responsible. Most of the students studying in government schools belong to the disadvantaged section of the society and not only lack basic facilities but even don’t have enough clothes to wear, leave aside the private tutors, parental support or other facilities usually available to the students and toppers from private schools. So here in government schools everything rests upon a teacher.
How many of the educated and well off families send their wards to these government schools? It is less than one percent or negligible. There may be many genuine reasons for it, like poor infrastructure, corrupt administrative system, lack of accountability etc. Unfortunately, they don’t trust the government education system as a whole, and if it continues unabated the problem is likely to exacerbate. The various other problems in the government education sector, besides poor infrastructure and lack of accountability that prove to be the major obstacles, are staff shortage usually due to the irrational distribution of staff, too much involvement of teachers in non-academic activities, excess time taken by the departmental offices in addressing problems of the schools etc. Not only these but teachers roam from pillar to post to get their problems solved and nobody comes to their rescue, neither officers nor politicians.
Why only teacher is held responsible for his poor performance in the end when there is a proper system in place for supervision of his academic performance on weekly and monthly basis. Why this issue of strict action and penalty comes to the public domain only after the declaration of results when no such step was taken against these erring teachers throughout the academic year. After the poor performance last year in board results government immediately issued a circular in which the principal SIE, Chief Education Officer and Principal DIETs were told to expedite their monitoring mechanism by utilizing the services of field officers viz Deputy Chief Education Officers, ZEOs and ZEPOs. It was mentioned that the Head of the Institutions shall regularly monitor the academic activities of all immediate catchment area schools. Further it was mentioned that the performance report from Principal SIE, Chief Education Officers and Principal DIETs should reach to Directorate of School Education Kashmir on 30th of every month. I think the circular for this monitory mechanism or remedial action might have found its way in the dustbin, otherwise these poor performing schools and their teachers could have been pointed out and penalized for their lethargic work earlier and alternative arrangements could have been put in place to save the career of these poor students. For what reason these innocent children were deprived of their right to education? Why they are made to suffer for none of their faults?
However, whenever the officials from Education Department visit any school, they mostly enquire about the attendance of teachers, MDM, fund position and hardly check the academic activities and progress of the school. Administrative lethargy has eaten away the vitals of our education sector. These innocent children were betrayed by every stakeholder, be it a teacher, parent/community or the department. We have to make every stakeholder accountable if we really wish to improve the performance of school education system and not a teacher alone whose professional life has come to a halt due to the factors which are not his own creation only. Recently government has decided to stop the increment of all those teachers and Head teachers who did not perform well in the recently declared board results. This is not a new thing as such mechanism is already in place but surprisingly never came into force that led to their lethargy and lack of accountability.
It seems unjust, whatsoever be the cause, that a student who is unable to read and write simple text is prompted to the next class under the name of SSA. Those students who are unable to clear their 8th class exams are anyhow promoted to the next class after the remedial teaching of some fifteen days. In most of the cases it is just a formality, otherwise how could they make it in fifteen days that could not be done in the whole year.  
What will a teacher do when his student in 9th or 10th class does not even know how to read and write, even though it is not the students fault! Therefore, under such a situation two options are available to a teacher to save himself from the humiliation which he is going to suffer for none of his mistake as he received the students in a very bad situation. He or she has to either bar them from appearing in the examination as a regular candidate to maximize his result or face the criticism and punitive action by allowing them to appear as regular candidates. On the other hand we must not compare private schools with the government schools as private schools admit students only after screening test and they often reject those who can’t fulfill the criteria set by them. They also bar students from appearing as regular candidates if they feel doubt about their performance. The simple solution to this problem can be had by strengthening of elementary education by improving their infrastructure and at the same time provide special training to the elementary teachers to improve their capacity to deal with them.
We need to start and organize a movement from within the system that would work and press for reformation of the education setup in J&K.  Therefore need of the hour is to relook into the functioning of the whole system of education and put the accountability mechanisms into action so that every stakeholder will contribute to the success of the universalization of the quality education. The teacher alone is not responsible for the present problem but the whole society, including those who criticize, are equally responsible.
(Bilal Ahmad is a teacher working in Bijbehara)

Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 4 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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