NEP or National Education Policy 2019 prepared by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development lays special stress on providing quality education to the school children.
Speaking of quality education in our state Jammu and Kashmir, it is in place to mention that although the concerned Department of Education has taken several steps to improve the academics at elementary schools, quality education remains farfetched.
Teachers are provided trainings, remedial classes for slow learning students are undertaken, and teacher- student ratio is rationalized. Most importantly, free winter tutorials have been provided for the last four years to ensure timely completion of syllabi and to improve academics. However, quality education in most of the institutions remains questionable.
Achieving quality education at government schools always remains a hot topic of discussion - both in government and public circles. It is agreed by teachers, administrators and educationists that the academics in government schools is on a constant decline and that some corrective measures are urgently needed to bring the derailed education system on track.
To ensure that the government schools improve their academics, several theories, viewpoints, tools and techniques have been introduced into teaching through various training programmes like SSA, RMSA and through NGO endeavors such PRATHAM but little has been achieved by these programmes. The chief reason being that the programmes/ trainings do not meet the needs and requirements at the schools.
Agreed that the trainings are very important – they update teachers' technical skills, expose them to newer and modern techniques and tools of teaching and infuse new life into our teaching-learning atmosphere by making it attractive and enjoyable for students. However, the belief that such trainings will improve our academic standards and enable us to excel is unrealistic and not practical because te newer techniques are not result-oriented and lack practical application at the schools.
It is noteworthy that no trainings and new techniques are either provided or used at the private schools. Still, they perform much better than government schools and their students excel in every aspect of learning. That is because the teaching- learning mechanism of private schools involves six strong unwritten principles - pleasure, participation, planning, provision, pressure and personnel.
However, government schools too can improve their academic standards and qualitatively change the pattern of academics if they apply these six innovative and effective principles in their teaching- learning mechanism.
Pleasure: Students at the primary level should feel at home at government schools. They should be made to learn and play at the same time. For example, teaching through activities which are child centered and which let children express themselves freely and fearlessly. Errors must be corrected. Verbal or physical punishment should be avoided. Trainings under "PRATHAM" focus on teaching basics to students, of the primary standard, through enjoyable activities in an atmosphere of friendship, affection and belongingness. Such learning will build strong foundation of a child's academic side. Moreover, such learning will promote the child's all round development - physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and social. As a result, the roll of students can increase as well.
Participation: All the stakeholders of schools should participate in improving the performance of government schools. Students, teachers, parents, administrators - all must contribute to the improvement in the academic standards of the government schools. Yes, teachers have to lead from the front. But if students, parents and administrators just keep on criticizing and targeting teachers for poor performance of the schools, then the situation can never improve. Good parenting demands that parents remain in regular touch with schools regarding the academic progress of their children. Administrators should ensure that teachers do not suffer from delayed salaries, unnecessary transfers and so on. In addition, the administrators should ensure good infrastructure, teaching- learning materials, comfortable and healthy environment for the teaching- learning process.
Planning: A good planning is a major need at government schools. Availability of books, syllabi copies, 2 teachers per class, 20 students per class - should be ensured before an academic session begins. All kinds of trainings should be imparted after going into the field, diagnosing accurately the faults and accordingly tools/modules should be prepared to correct the faults. Further, trainings should be provided in a classroom like situation with real students participating in demonstration classes given by a trainer. Mock demos making teacher-trainees to act as students have never proven fruitful or effective. Moreover, salaries of teachers must be raised and released at the end of a month. A delay in the release of salaries, especially in the salary of primary and secondary level teachers kills all good efforts of academic improvement.
Provision: Government schools are in dire need of pre-primary classes, nursery and kindergarten classes. In these classes, a beginner goes through a vigorous course of writing and reading skills. Thus the beginner learns how to read and write basics like the alphabet and numbers. Moreover, these classes gift the kids with proper mental and emotional age which is necessary for learning words, sentences and paragraphs from the first primary standard. The good thing is that pre-primary classes have excellently proven their merit and utility in yielding best results at private/ public schools. That is why, every private/ public school keeps a provision for pre- primary classes. Therefore, a provision for pre-primary classes must be kept at government schools as well so that a strong foundation is laid for the students admitted there.
Pressure: There must be pressure on government teachers for competition among themselves for better performance, to earn incentives, rewards and the reputation of being an excellent teacher. Competition improves performances. Unfortunately, the lack of the legacy of best teachers in the department kills the spirit for competition among teachers. Consequently, teaching remains a low profile job and that impacts the academics badly.
Moreover, there is no pressure for performing better. You perform better or bad. Your rank, job and place of posting are secure in all circumstances.
Personnel: Posting of teachers should be made as per the need of a school. What should guide the posting is not the roll of the school, but the number of classes and subjects taught there. A single student in a particular standard is a class and good schooling demands that the student's every aspect like academic achievement, development, curricular activities gets due attention at the school. Adequate number of teachers can allow teachers to attend four/ five classes daily. It will enable them to make lesson plans/ diaries. Inadequate staff hits academics because some teachers have to remain busy with non- teaching duties at schools.