Chandigarh, Monday, July 27, 1998
|Teachers expected to perform miracles
by Peeyush Agnihotri
Examination results is a yearly phenomenon which most of the teachers as well as the students love to hate.
Scant regard for contiguity
to revamp curricula
Teachers expected to perform miracles
Examination results is a yearly phenomenon which most of the teachers as well as the students love to hate. It might cease to be a nightmare for a student after some years, unless of course he or she takes up teaching as a career, year after year it continues to haunt the teachers.
While a students evaluation is based on how he or she fares in exams, a teacher is evaluated by her class result.
Every year when results are declared, more often than not, urban private schools display better results as compared to the government rural ones.
And then, the government machinery awakes from its slumber and chugs into action. Higher-ups of government schools dispatch letters and memorandums asking teachers to explain why the result of their class was poor. A routine exercise, a departmental soul-searching. Teachers too cite various reasons, some inane and other pertinent.
The explanation, thus received, finds its way into a file maintained at the head office and the exercise ends there. The same, then may or may not be used as a tool to punish the teacher.
Can teachers really be blamed for a poor show? To some extent they can be held responsible in urban areas where the student population has literate parents and infrastructure is just a shade less than some private schools.
But asking teachers to perform miracles with poor infrastructure and with students who have illiterate or semi-illiterate parents, as is the case in rural settings, is asking for the moon.
Infrastructurally, to say the least, in some of the schools canopy of trees acts as classrooms and a cemented patch on wall as a blackboard.
To top it, there are students mostly from agrarian background, who have other chores to do when they get back home leaving them with little or no time to study.
Some of the schools have also introduced the idea of primary teaching for all and implement what they call zero-failure at lower level. Students, no matter how he or she performs in the final exams, are promoted to the next higher class. This goes on till class IV or so. Though it is a novel idea yet it has a cascading effect.
Ultimately, when poor performers face the onslaught of board finals, they expectantly flunk taking the class pass percentage and teachers hard work into a tailspin.
A typical example of right hand not knowing what the left is doing, as on one hand, a laggard is promoted by decree while on the other, a teacher is asked to explain the poor performance.
Then teachers are transferred in mid-session. By the time the teacher is able to develop a rapport with the students, final exams trundle in.
A more elaborate exercise is the need of the hour. Higher-ups should brush their thinking caps and consider all parameters before they issue memos.
Scant regard for contiguity
By S. P. Dhawan
College in districts have been affiliated to various universities in Punjab with scant regard for the contiguity factor.
For instance, government college, SAS Nagar, which is a stone's throw from Chandigarh, is affiliated to Punjabi University, Patiala, whereas Government College, Zira (Ferozepore district) which is more than 200 km from Chandigarh, is affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh, when it is only 80 km from Amritsar. Similarly, Government College, Dera Bassi, at a distance of 20 km from Chandigarh is affiliated to Punjabi University, Patiala which is at a distance of 75 km.
In the same manner, colleges in Ferozepore are at a distance of 100 to 115 km from Amritsar but they stand affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh, which is more than 220 km away. There are numerous examples of imbalances in the act of affiliating colleges to different universities.
Panjab University, Chandigarh (200 km)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (230 km)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (285 km)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (240 to 260 km)
Punjab University, Chandigarh (245 km)
Punjab University, Chandigarh (280 km)
GNDU, Amritsar (135 km)
to which it
Panjab University, Chandigarh (8 km)
Panjab University Chandigarh (25 km)
Panjab University Chandigarh (40 km)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (30 km)
Panjab University Chandigarh (70 km)
GNDU, Amritsar (80 km)
Punjabi University, Patiala (215 km)
Punjabi University Patiala (170 to 190 km)
Panjab University Chandigarh (85 km)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (100 km)
affiliating the colleges to various universities,
contiguity ought to be the sole criterion. The
authorities must understand that the district is not an
academic unit. Hence, necessary amendments should be made
in the Acts of various universities keeping the
contiguity factor in mind.This will go a long way in
protecting the interests of students, teachers and the
universities and refurbishing the image of the
authorities controlling higher education in the state.
Himachal to revamp curricula
By Raj Kumar Prashar
Concerned at the declining standard of school education in the state, the newly appointed Chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education, Dharamsala, Dr C.L. Gupta, intends to revamp the curriculum of primary classes and review the syllabi of secondary and senior secondary classes.
In an interview, the prominent educationist said that drastic reforms in the prevailing examination and evaluation system for all board classes were a must. Though recasting of the syllabi for the primary classes would be the top priority of the board, the smooth conduct of examinations and fair evaluation would be treated with equal importance.
The Chairman said the present curriculum prescribed for the primary classes did not cater to the needs and all-round development of school-children coming from different socio-cultural environment and background.
Quoting examples, Dr Gupta lamented that there were many topics with pictorial illustration prescribed for the primary classes which were of little relevance to them. These topics and pictorial illustrations could not be co-related with that of the local environment in which the tiny-tots lived. The Chairman said that topics which went with the intelligence quotient of children would be prescribed so that they spontaneously got involved with the teaching-learning process. Topics on horticulture, sericulture and agriculture had to be incorporated in the syllabi for primary classes, Dr Gupta opined.
He said sub-committees would be set up to review the reformulation of the syllabi. Each sub committee would be headed by a prominent educationist who could be either a university don or a retired educationist of eminence. Later, debate and discussions would be conducted on the recommendations of each committee. A balanced and useful curriculum would be prepared either by incorporating new topics or by expurgating stereotype ones.
Another area which needed attention was paper-setting for various board classes. Dr Gupta felt that lack of expert paper-setters was one major problem. Poor paper-setting and a faulty evaluation system, did not provide ample scope for the examinees to score marks. Consequently, a majority of students shifted from state-run schools to the CBSE-governed schools. "Though we too have the CBSE curriculum, evaluation and paper-setting is not up to the mark. That is why there is a large student exodus to the CBSE schools," Dr Gupta lamented.
The Chairman said the board would select a team of paper-setters for various classes for intensive training through workshops organised by the board. Over Rs 50,000 had been earmarked for the same. Paucity of funds would not be allowed to hamper this process. He pointed out that each workshop would train a group of 50 teachers.
The Chairman said the paper-setters would be asked to submit model answers along with the question paper on the CBSE pattern so that the arbitrary adoption of different yardsticks and deviation of rules by the evaluators could be curbed.
He also stressed that paper-setters in each discipline would have to clearly mention the break-up and weightage of marks to be awarded to each answer by the evaluator.
As regards mass copying in examinations, the Chairman blamed the so-called political workers and unscrupulous teachers for encouraging this evil. He said the tradition of allotting examination centres to the examination supervisory staff "on demand" would be eliminated. This would be the first step towards combating planned copying in examination centres.
He pointed out that during examinations held in March this year, flying squads consisting of board employees booked 80 per cent unfair means cases (UMCs), whereas the flying squads comprising teachers could register only 20 per cent.
Dr Gupta said the school board would endeavour to increase the remuneration for various assignments on a par with the neighbouring Punjab School Board. But this would take some time since the HP School Board would have to generate funds to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore to meet such expenditure. Besides, the HP Board charged a lesser examination fee from students as compared to the Punjab School Board.
SHIMLA: A large number of girl students have not been able to get admission in two colleges in Shimla under Himachal Pradesh University because of the tough stand taken by the two lady principals.
The principal of the local St Bede's College has refused admission to her own students in the higher class if they have not achieved a particular percentage. Admission is being given to students out side the state from Punjab and Delhi with a higher percentage.
These students have been refused admission by other girls colleges too. Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyalaya has rejected these students on the pretext of overcrowding. This problem occurs every year during admission in colleges. The number of such cases has increased this year. "My daughter could not score well this year and now she is denied the right to higher education, because of the ego clash between two principals. This is absolutely incorrect", says a parent.
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The H.P. University authorities may conduct student elections in the campus and all affiliated colleges this year after a gap of three years, according to a high placed source. But the university will lay a strict and severe code of conduct. The Student Federation of India is planning a state-wide agitation and a rally on August 6 in favour of the elections.
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Teachers of the ICDEOL (International Centre of Distance Education and Open Learning) are conducting examinations at various centres of Himachal Pradesh University. Some teachers are ecstatic as they are being given air travel facility to go to places like Guwahati, Calcutta and Bangalore. Meanwhile chaos persists in some centres of the ICDEOL as all students have not received their roll numbers. The ICDEOL is still managed by an ad hoc director.
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There is strong demand for opening regional centres of HPU at the zonal level. The number of degree colleges and other professional colleges are increasing and it is becoming difficult for the single university to control these colleges. The Regional Engineering College at Hamirpur affiliated to HPU conducted its own exams this time, thereby resulting in a huge revenue loss to the university.
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With the change in the government in the state, reshuffling on a large scale has taken place in the HPU administration. Many parallel offices have come up, resulting in a burden on the exchequer. The office of Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dean, Planning and Academic Affairs, Additional Controller of Examination are a few to name. Many divisions in the examination branch have been reorganised. The result for 70 posts of clerks has been withheld whereas many branches of the university are understaffed.