“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next”. – Abraham Lincoln.
Public school system has always been a matter of debate especially in third world countries, so is the case with our state. Annul Status of Education Report “ASER 2017” has depicted a sorry state of affairs of school education across India, including in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and has raised doubts about the performance of school system. Recent 10th and 12th class results have added to already hot debate vis-à-vis the performance of public schools. From legislators in the assembly to the common man on ground all seemed to have jumped in the fray. Some people without wasting time have straightway started blaming teachers, which is both unjust and unfair. Government of Jammu and Kashmir has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Professor Amitabh Mattoo, advisor to the Chief Minister, supported by Principal Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department, Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, apart from other well learned members, for suggesting measures to improve results of government schools, which indeed is a welcome step. We believe a holistic approach is the need of the hour in which all stakeholders should be taken on-board to improve performance of public schools.
To my understanding, following baby steps could help in improving the results in our public schools:
1.Revisiting “No-detention Policy”: From long time, “no-detention policy has been in vogue in our government schools under which each scholar/student has to be elevated to next class under any circumstances irrespective of his/her ability to pass the said examination. It must to be understood if a scholar/student has reached to the tenth class without having the required potential to reach there, he/she is deemed to fail at tenth class level, so why to make hue and cry, and at the same time start punishing teachers. Accepting the benefits of no-detention policy vis-à-vis enrolment and re-tension of students, we believe time is ripe to revisit the policy in larger interest of quality education to the students in our state and for improving the results thereof.
2.Rationalisation of Teaching Staff: To maintain proper teacher student ratio, it is imperative upon authorities at the helm of affairs that they shall initiate a process of rationalisation of teaching staff, across the breadth and length of schools in Jammu and Kashmir. Because of the disparity in postings of teaching staff, how on earth we are expecting same results from each school. Education under any circumstances should be kept away from the political interference vis-à-vis posting and transfers of teachers. Although rationalisation process was started sometime in the past, but unfortunately that has not seen its logical end. For the sake of improvement of results in our government schools it is high time that process of rationalisation may be started again and led the authorities make sure that every school irrespective of its location gets the required teaching staff.
3.No Non-Teaching Assignment to the Teachers: It has become a new normal in our state that any policy or process which government intends to implement, is being implemented by engaging teachers only through one way or the other, at the cost of academic activities of teachers. From Booth Level Officers (BLO), election duty, census, to in-charge Mid-Day Meal, the teacher has to be ready at any point in time. For God’s sake, how are we expecting that teacher will perform all the above-mentioned activities and at the same time will improve the results in our schools, because after all he is a human being, not a robot. If we dream that our public schools should maintain basic minimum standards then we must understand that teachers should be relieved from all non-teaching assignments in and outside school that will pave the way for quality academics and will help improve achievements of our students in government schools.
4.Making Quality Text Books Available: Text books as a learning material are an important source of information to our students in schools. For improving quality of learning of students, access to appropriate learning material holds the key. Text books play a vital role so for as successful schooling is concerned. It is an open secret that text books in our government schools are grossly ineffective and are not in tune with modern times. Lack of quality instruction material is one of the reasons behind low achievement of public school students. We must understand that for improving learning outcomes of government school students, considerable efforts need to be undertaken to review and upgrade the text books in our government schools.
5.Introduction of Parent-Teacher Meetings: As is rightly said teaching learning is a tri-polar process. We believe no amount of reformation and restoration for improvement of education will work unless and until parent and community at large are not a part of reformation process. Schools should seek the cooperation of society. It is a fact that students spent three-fourth (¾) of the time in homes as compared to the school. In this perspective involvement of parent and home environment plays a very vital role in the process of education of child. For better understanding of student formal introduction of parent teacher meetings must be introduced in our public schools. School as an institution has a responsibility to aware the general masses especially parents about the importance of education in the lives of students. We are of the firm belief that if parent too will fulfil their responsibility improvement of public schools is not a distant dream.
In conclusion, it must be noted that this is not an exhaustive list of interventions and reforms, there could be many more ways and means for improvement of public school system in our state and it seems that government has taken this issue very seriously, that is why it has constituted a learned committee. As it is rightly said that well begin is half done. We believe the constituted committee will consult all stakeholders and will not only come up with better recommendations, but at the same time will come up with a road map for implementation of those recommendations on ground.
(The writer is Assistant Professor (Education), Department of Higher Education and presently posted at Government Degree College Ganderbal. He can be reached at: [email protected])