Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Providing quality education a challenge for schools today!

It is unfortunate that today, providing good quality education in most schools including Government, Government Aided, and Private, unaided Public schools. One major problem is that there is overcrowding of class rooms as a result of which one to one interaction between students and teachers becomes very difficult! The ideal teacher student ratio of 1-35 as suggested by the R.T.E. seems to be a distant dream! The Departments of Education all over the country have never tried to  suggest  the number of students that can be admitted in each class. What is happening today is that Principals of all schools are under constant pressure from various  to take in students even where there are no seats left! Some quote the Right to Education act, while others influence top Government Officials to write a directive to the Principal to take the student. Thus, today you have overcrowded class rooms in Government, Government Aided and Public Unaided schools across the country.
Excess overcrowding of classrooms beyond the admissible limit has resulted in a serious dilution of the quality of education taking place in schools. Parents, however don’t realise that getting admission in a school with overcrowded classrooms might not be a good idea after all. Parents try to solve this problem by resorting to home tuitions and coaching. In many cases, the tutor is the class teacher. It all becomes a vicious circle where students are taught tuitions outside the school so these very teachers might not be paying much interest in the class room. Students whose parents are poor are at a disadvantage because they can’t afford costly tuitions and they don’t get much from school.
Discipline in overcrowded schools often takes a back foot during dispersal and during entry. Cramped corridors, cramped staircases, lack of proper means of exit and egress result in frayed tempers both in teachers and students. Lack of proper play-ground space, spacious courtyards, lack of auditoriums, and lack of all round space has a direct impact on the quality of education being provided to students in many of the schools in the country. Schools guarantee, “all round development of the personality” of the student, but in reality they fail to do this because of lack of space for co-curricular activities! Today, more than ever before, Education in schools has to address various life skills of students which include, public speaking, debating, creative writing, developing a sportsman spirit, developing a spirit of adventure, developing curiosity, eagerness to enquire about new developments, the desire to do research work, awareness about social issues,developing the spirit for innovation, and the boldness to explore new avenues. Quality education comes not just from textbook knowledge, but also by being able to apply what has been taught to real life situations. If quality education means educating students to cope with real life situations, then it becomes imperative for all schools to do a re-think about their objectives and how to achieve them. Education is about teaching students coping strategies, teaching them to be positive thinkers, educating students to build a repertoire of skills which will help them be better human beings, human beings with an awareness of about environment concerns, an awareness about what career options they will take after leaving school. Unfortunately education in schools today doesn’t help or guide students about the best careers for them. Mere rote-memorisation, mugging from textbooks, or taking down notes dictated by teachers or tutors doesn’t improve the quality of education in schools!
I have observed a chain of schools with branches in Delhi and Gurgaon which maintains a teacher-pupil ration of not more than 1-38, and I have observed a very close one to one interaction between the teachers and students. My daughters study in one of the branches of this school, and I have observed how teachers take pains in looking after their students. This one to one interaction is more important in the formative years of the student, especially from K.G. class to class fourth, where the child has to develop the essential skills in the three “Rs.”, namely reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is only after these basic skills are properly developed that the child can go on to develop other skills.The challenge before every Educationist or Principal of a school is to address all these issues as best as he can and develop new strategies which can make education something more than rote memorisation, and mere text book mugging! It is only after this that the quality of education can be improved. In this however, there has to be a working partnership between the Principal, the Management, the students, parents, and the society at large!

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