Posts filed under ‘education’

School system need to be revolutionized

One must certainly admire Kabil Sibal for even daring to have a 100 –day plan to revolutionize the education system. But has Sibal bitten more than he can chew? Has he done his homework? Has he any idea of what the school systems in the States are? Has he envisaged the systems that are prevailing at the University level in the States? But above all has he forgotten the basic federalism which as a Minister he is bound by. Education is a State subject and he cannot encroach into education without causing friction between States and the Centre. As the Union Minister for Education he surely can advise the State governments draw up guidelines and create an atmosphere for greater interaction and co-operation. Towards the creation of mutual co-operation and understand and trust to go towards a common goal for making school education more relevant, less traumatized. Instead of making pompous statements he should have called the States for a discussion and had consultations within a frame work of time and areas.

Kapil Sibal should look at the hard reality of school education which he thinks can be revolutionized within 100 days? Why the 10th standard exams have become a cause for so much anguish? Can you remove the anguish without removing the cause and the cause is not the exams of the 10th Standard. It is like throwing the baby with the bathwater. A benchmark assessment is necessary but it cannot be at one point and at one shot. But Kapil Sibal’s solution seems to be worse than the problem. Calling for  a uniform national assessment is worse and will lead to more trauma. It does not yield to regional variations, it is more stressful and becomes like other  national competitive exams (like the IAS,IPS !)Even for other competitive exams the States have their own Public Service Commissions. That being the case the Minister cannot think of a national exam for the school level. Apart from the exams the whole range of inputs should come under scrutiny at the State levels like curriculum, teaching methods, teacher-student ratio, syllabi, infrastructure, learning climate, motivation to learn, a reward system all these have to be looked into. The very marking system makes no sense. A student with a difference of one mark can make the rank. How can one be so accurate in awarding marks especially when it comes to humanities? Testing need not be at the end of a ten year period-it could be an aggregate of three  year performance from the 8th to the 10th Standard. but let us look at the ground reality-the variety of schools systems, the different types of managements, the unjust learning climate-the creation of negative learning in some schools, the disparities embedded, the creation of a caste system within the education system, the poor have the poor schools and the rich have the rich schools. The unjustly oriented education which makes it extremely difficult for fair competition and the corruption which means that a certificate is available for money!

Above all the commercialization of education from the kindergarden to the Centers of Excellence All these may be the reality in education in all the States but I would like to specific Tamilnadu because I am familiar with it . The schools are either Matriculation or Higher Secondary. The Matriculation has only English Medium while the Higher Secondary some are English medium and the majority Tamil medium. There is always a rush to English medium schools. The government expects at least a 80 percent pass –so there is the tendency to evaluate very leniently. Even students who are unable to write a paragraph correctly will pass. Now comes the different Managements- Government aided Minority schools, Private aided Schools, Self financing schools, and government schools. In the city of chennai the Government schools some come under the Local Body-Like the Corporation schools and some come directly under the State Government. As though this is not confusing enough in the rural areas the schools are managed by the Panchayats /Blocks and State government private aided schools and Self Financing schools.

Will it be possible for Kabil Sibal at least to level the ground within each State and bring in some uniformity for fair play? The demand of English medium Minority managed schools is more in demand. All the top officers of the government and the corporate world-the rich and the powerful opt for Minority aided schools. This has its own adverse effect. If the government is unable to run its schools well then why is it wasting the people’s money in running schools which are unfit for their own children and grandchildren? Starting from the Chief Minister all the powerful politicians and police officers, the IAS and IPS officers has their children, and grandchildren in the Minority managed English medium schools. The result is that no worth while trouble is taken to upgrade the government schools and Corporation schools-be it the teaching, and/ or the physical conditions of the schools. The teachers are used for government tasks like census enumeration, and government propaganda of FP. etc.

Right in the city of Chennai there are Corporation schools with no drinking water and toilet facilities and no play ground. Who are the children who attend these schools? What kind of learning takes place? The children in these schools have  no teaching aids-not even a chalk board-no proper classrooms and benches but  must sit for the same exams and must compete with the rest who have all the formal and the informal education and educational aids and facilities. If within the city of Chennai this is the state of affairs one can imagine the rural areas. And remember Tamilnadu is much better off than States like AP, Orissa, Bihar, et al. There are schools where the teachers simply mark the attendance even when the students are absent-boost the strength of the school so that she/he survives. I have visited a Corporation school in the city of Chennai where marks were credited without exams. It is not that those in the field of education are unaware of these but what reforms have been undertaken to make the schools a great social leveler and give the children an equal opportunity to social mobility? We demand that Education be a Fundamental Right –but what kind of education? .No wonder the children prefer to be on the streets than shut in a suffocating system.

If the Government cannot run its schools it would be better then the government leaves it to private bodies. The government must justify the expenditure on education and state why its schools are not preferred by its own Government employees. Is the government abetting the elite schools for the rich and the powerful and creating a sub standard learning system for the poor? So right from school level there is a divide. But the monies are from the common man. All the teachers of the aided schools-Minority and Private are paid by the government. So the tax –payers’ monies go towards creating an unjust system for the children. From the school level onwards then the divide places hurdles for fair competition and for identification of talents. This extends upwards right to the so called centers of Excellence.

It is then of utmost importance for the Minister for Education Kapil Sibal to extend his thinking right from the beginning-the cause of trauma-which  starts from the unjustly oriented school system, the inequalities that it abets and the negation of Equality –a Fundamental Right. Without setting this right to make Education a Fundamental Right serves no purpose; for we are pushing the poor children to experience not just trauma but force them within a Divide and experience injustice right through their schooling. The minister should initiate discussions with the State governments to revolutionize the whole school system .When things are set in the right perspective then not only will the trauma disappear but our children will have an enriching growing/learning experience.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

June 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm 3 comments


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