Education is an important means to achieve women empowerment and gender equality and therefore promotes the development in the nation. In the National Educational Scenario the case of Jammu and Kashmir is very regressive with regard to some important parameters namely the literacy rate, dropout rate, teacher-pupil ratio, and the employment of educated persons. We cut a sorry figure for low literacy rate, high dropout rate, high teacher-pupil ratio, high gender inequality, and the low absorption of educated persons or a high gap between employment and education. In the recent years, we have no doubt witnessed an unparalleled push especially at elementary level. The schemes (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in particular) have come up as a blessing.
The teacher-pupil ratio is a measuring rod for the quality of education. The ideal teacher-pupil ratio, depending upon many factors mainly educational needs and age, play a vital role. Students at the elementary level require more individual attention from teachers because they have more learning tasks. Therefore, we require a better teacher-pupil ratio compared to students at higher levels of education. But, this doesn’t mean the ratio should be odd or bad. Given the fact that the skills and knowledge of our teachers in schools are low as they are not subject specialists, so, they cannot handle a larger class, and accordingly, there is a need for a low teacher-pupil ratio. The lower the teacher-pupil ratio, the more attention is paid to students who learn basics such as reading, writing, and arithmetic in a better way. Our schools and higher secondary should have the required infrastructure and resources to afford the ideal teacher-pupil ratio keeping in view the major governing factors. The high ratio actually generates a vicious circle. A high teacher-pupil ratio generates a high dropout rate which in turn lowers literacy rate. With poor literacy, gender inequality rises thereby widening the gap between employment and education.
The notion of subject specialists must be incorporated in every educational institute and the general line teacher’s trend needs to be discarded. How can a teacher do justice to all subjects? It will be a jack of all trades and master of none case then. Teaching is a noble profession and not for the sake of formality. A teacher should be well versed in the subject which he/she teaches. When a teacher is promoted from teacher to master and let us suppose he is a B.Sc. or B. Ed. and if he got posted in high school or higher secondary he obviously is supposed to teach higher classes. It is not so easy to teach physics, chemistry, or biology to 9th or 10th class. A teacher must be fundamentally very strong and well versed with the nitty-gritty of the subject. A simple graduate cannot do justice with the subject and as a result, students suffer. There must be post-graduate teachers posted in high or higher secondary schools. That is to say, the need of the hour is the proper utilization of manpower available.
Specialization is very important for teaching any subject particularly at a higher level and a modern progression and conviction is that knowledge expands as and when expansion in distinct and independent spheres takes place. Subject specialists must be introduced and there should be allocation and full utilization of available teachers on a subject basis. Best teachers at the best place or proper teachers at a proper place in terms of their line of expertise or subjects should be put. There must be a proper record of their subjects and a proper database must be created on the basis of subjects and accordingly, their posting or transfers should be done.
Students from their very basic or primary level should be taught in such a way that they can learn properly how to read, write, pronounce, and spell a word or a sentence. We must accept that the students from government schools are not well versed with reading, writing, spelling, pronouncing, and arithmetic even in the upper primary classes. This problem is aggravated to the secondary level as well as the tertiary level and therefore good educational results are not met from government schools. The education department must devise such a mechanism through which students from primary level are given extra attention on the fundamentals of education and learning. It is very important to create a supervisory body comprising respectable persons of the society such as retired teachers, lecturers, principal, highly educated youth, NGOs, etc. They will monitor the teaching-learning process and inspect class work functioning. Teachers should strictly maintain a proper lesson plan and demonstrate any important topic of their choice before this supervisory body whenever they come for the check. In addition, teachers should properly and regularly check the copies of their students because with this they can come across the weakness of the students with regard to writing and spelling.
It is equally important to conduct regular parent-teacher meetings. Parents should be involved in schools and motivated and informed about the performance of their children. Also, in each educational zone subject experts must be incorporated who will regularly visit and inspect the schools. They should check the lesson plans and monitor the teachers during lecturing. They should guide the teachers every now and then which will definitely enhance their quality of teaching. There should be regular inspection of schools at the micro-level by heads of the institution, headmasters, Zonal educational officers, Tehsildars, Nambardars, DCs, and ADCs, etc. Inspecting teams must touch the academic aspect. Refresher courses or training to teachers must be offered in real sense. Also, an exam after training must be conducted which will increase the teaching skills and knowledge of the subject. Teachers should be compelled to learn about the subject to its fullest.
Last but not least is the reward system which increases efficiency and inspires and boosts both teachers and students keeping them active and updated. Here I am reminded of the magnanimity of late Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who rewarded his public like anything which undoubtedly made them efficient with every passing day. He used to arrange a scholarship for the education of the children of the poor including one Tonga driver (popularly known by Alle Dul) whose son is a lawyer now settled in London (reported by news agency KNT). His humbleness and kind gestures made his public better day by day and changed their outlook towards life. Government authorities in general and the education department, in particular, must realize the importance of rewards in raising the morale and efficiency levels of its masses so that better results and social welfare are achieved.
It is therefore incumbent upon you to take note of these suggestions and make your department dynamic.
Binish Qadri is ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing Ph.D. in Economics at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir