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FORUM
Q: What should state governments do to promote
school education?

This is the fifth instalment of readersí response

Allow teachers to settle down

Commercialisation is yet to touch government schools, but in cities, parents do not send their children to these schools. Schoolteachers in government schools are paid better than their counterparts in private schools, but government teachers do not work hard.

Their casual approach is the measure of their seriousness or the lack of it. In private schools, heads take a keen interest in ensuring quality of education and donít allow teachers to get lax. Recently, Punjab recruited teachers on contract basis.

Teachers with no job security will play safe and definitely not like to experiment to grow as teachers. They will hardly ever have peace of mind. Teachers should be paid better so that they do not force private tuitions upon students, and made to work in rural schools for a minimum of three years, so that rural children also get some benefit.

Couples should be absorbed in one school and frequent transfers should be discouraged. Schools should be reasonably near the teacherís residence, so that he or she is able to devote time to the household chores as well. Good teachers should be honoured publicly.

UJAGAR SINGH, Chandigarh

Private players shouldnít get free hand

People donít like to send their wards to government schools, although they donít mind running after jobs in these schools. People like to send their wards to private schools, where the exploitation of teachers is widespread.

The policy of the government has now tilted towards privatisation of school education. Schools with air-conditioned classrooms are coming up, funded by the NRI dollar. Villages are getting good schools, which is the reason given for moving towards more privatisation.

The discipline in privately managed schools is indeed industry-like, where underpaid teachers are pushed to outperform themselves. It contrasts sharply with the government schools, where overpaid teachers are left to underperform themselves, which is the other extreme. Both situations are desperate and need correction. A job contract should equally favour the teacher and the school.

Have the state governments become so hopeless that they are now forced to think in terms of privatising schools. The right choice is not to give absolute control to the private players, but to tighten the belts. Private schools will have to show that they are equally committed to the uplift of the poor.

Dr J. S. ANAND, Principal, DAV College, Bathinda

Ban corporal punishment

The state governments should first and foremost ban corporal punishment in schools. One still remembers the repulsive incident of boys slapping girls in a government school in Dhanas near Chandigarh. It reflects poorly on teachers and their understanding of child psychology.

I am a student of class X in Army School, Ambala Cantonment, and I would neither like to slap my fellow students, nor want to be slapped by any of them. My teacher can admonish me for my mistakes, but he or she has no right to humiliate or beat me. I like my self-respect and work hard to keep it. Humiliation and beatings donít make better students.

My mother is a teacher in my school. All her students love her and perform well in various competitions. This is because she knows each child by name, relates to everyone, and follows a novel way of teaching. With her own money, she buys small gifts, which she gives away as rewards to good students. She regularly interacts with the parents of her students. My point is that if a teacher is serious, dedicated, and loving, he or she could spare the rod and yet not spoil the child.

Aniket Singh, Ambala Cantonment

Educate, feed parents first

Before children, their uneducated parents should be drawn towards literacy by promoting adult education in a big way. These parents will then be able to analyse and discuss school education in a much better way.

A good number of qualified teachers should be engaged for working in government schools that donít have a tutor for the past many years. We cannot be recruiting inept teachers on provisional basis forever. Teachers in government schools should be recruited from outside the state and the school fees should be cut greatly for the poor children.

The states should give employment to at least one member of each family and school education will get promoted as a spin-off of this. When the stomach is empty, the mind stops functioning.

Corporal punishment in rural schools should be banned and films promoting education should be shown in factories and cinema houses, and at bus stands and railway stations, to target the working class and to attack child labour.

SUBER SINGH PARIHAR, Jalari, Hamirpur

Use new ways of teaching

State governments should promote school education in an objective manner. Helping students realise their role in society should be their aim. To achieve this, the government should introduce innovative and interesting methods of teaching.

We cannot attract students until we change our teaching methods from time to time. Another way of making teaching more effective is the use of slides for explaining points. Appointing young and dynamic scholars in villages with financial encouragement can do the trick.

The government should offer special concessions to the poor and needy students. Many children cannot attend school because they have to earn bread for their family in that time. The state government should give some financial assistance to such families so that these children are free to go to school. Our politicians should make sincere efforts to promote school education.

SURYA SHARMA, New Delhi

Privatise education till class VIII

States should bring school education on their priority list and give more funds for education. Itíll be good if we privatise school education up to the middle standard and make clear rules to govern the appointment of teachers and the fixing of fees and salary.

Give financial help to private institutions to compensate them for the loss of revenue on account of lowering the fees for the SC/ST students. Introduce grading system and keep the syllabi uniform. Strict supervision is necessary for the satisfactory functioning of the education system.

Only students getting more than 55 per cent marks in the matriculation examination should be allowed admission in class XI and the rest should be told to improve their performance. Give strict punishment to those who cheat or aid cheating during examinations.

ZORA SINGH, Muktsar

Let varsities share findings with schools

Start the process of filling up 28,000 posts of teacher and school head now, if you want things to improve. Expedite the passing of the Private Schools Control Act, 2004, and create an autonomous School Education Regulatory Authority to ensure good management of schools.

Utilise the Central grants optimally by getting the states to contribute a matching share. A recent World Bank survey has revealed that 36 per cent teachers absent themselves from schools, and from among those that are present in school, only 49 per cent step inside the classroom.

Awarding grace marks lavishly will boost the pass percentages in the board examinations. Clearing English and mathematics examinations at the middle and matriculation levels should be mandatory and the state education departments should themselves prepare the textbooks and syllabi.

As recommended by the Indian Education Commission, a State Board of Teacher Education should be set up, so that large-scale unemployment of trained teachers could be avoided. Streamline working of SCERT and let universities share their research findings in pedagogy, adult literacy and curriculum development with schools. Revive the state Advisory Board of Education.

Dr MEENAKSHI, Patiala

Copying needs to be checked

The government should ensure strict discipline among teachers to stop copying during examinations. Only teachers with moral integrity should be deputed as invigilators, whereas teachers who help cheaters should be tried for professional impropriety. Updating knowledge should be the primary aim of teachers and they should encourage students to use the Internet and multimedia for research.

The main task for the government is to chalk out the overall map of educational activities, with the right mix of extra-curricular activities. This will expand the horizon and enhance the personality of the students. Educational trips should also be organised. To create a healthy atmosphere in schools, the government should ban the use of mobile phones in classroom, by students, especially. The parents should also be instructed to help teachers curb this nuisance. Teachers should be given salaries according to their educational qualifications and competencies. This is will encourage them to work more enthusiastically.

LOVELEEN CHAUHAN, Patiala

Assess performance of teachers

The deteriorating standard of school education should be the cause of concern for every Indian. For improve matters, we should first put a strict ban on tuitions. The increasing dependence on private tutors should be stopped. If students keep rushing from one tutor to another, when will they get the time to study on their own? Coaching of this kind also hampers a childís self-confidence.

Unauthorised schools should be closed. The mushrooming of private schools that are not affiliated with any board of education and just want to make money should be checked. Training sessions are much needed. Professionals should provide schoolteachers with regular training to keep them updated.

Aptitude tests should be introduced in schools to make students more acuminous. Syllabi should be changed after a fixed time and schools should introduce career counselling for senior students.

Many teachers, especially in government schools and rural areas, do not perform their duty properly. A proper evaluation of teachersí performance should be done from time to time.

VEENAT, Barnala

Take lesson from developed countries

Though my education started in Punjab, I was fortunate to go to a high school in Canada. I later got a degree in political economy from the University of Toronto. The problem in Punjab is that kids are not taught to think, but right from the kindergarten level, they are pressurised to perform. In Canada, kids have a lot of fun while learning.

In India, learning English holds more importance than learning oneís mother tongue, which generates an inferiority complex among Indian students. There is no harm in learning other languages, but problem arises when we put more emphasis on other languages at an early age. The current education system is plagued with corruption. The government should see what developed countries are doing and bring those strategies to India.

K. S. CHOHAN, On e-mail

Involve teachers in framing policy

The education system in the country is deteriorating rapidly. Since education is important for the progress of a nation, the state governments canít just ignore school education. A committee should be set up from state government representatives, teachers, NGOS and educationists.

This committee can chalk out a state-level policy that the state governments can follow. The state governments should provide sufficient infrastructure for fully implementing this policy. Special emphasis has to be on education of women and rural people. Suitable action should be initiated to stop mass coping during examinations. The state governments should conduct fair examinations to enhance the capability of students and make them self-sufficient.

Col BEANT SINGH (retd), Jalandhar Cantonment

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