WHAT STUDENTS THINK ABOUT SCHOOL EDUCATION IN TAMIL NADU ?
Nandini Voice For The Deprived, organized an essay competition for school and college students in Tamil Nadu on “What is needed to improve standards of school education In Tamil Nadu ?”
Objective of conducting the essay competition is to provide an opportunity to the students to indicate their views on the present state of school education in Tamil Nadu and provide suggestions with regard to the changes and improvement needed.
Tamil Nadu Government has now taken some special steps to introduce reform measures for school education in Tamil Nadu and appointed an expert committee to evolve recommendations. The recommendations of the expert committee have been announced.
While the expert committee has consulted educationists, parents, teachers, politicians and government officials in framing its recommendations, it appears that it has not consulted the students and has not given opportunities to the student community to submit their views on the subject .
Through this essay competition, the students have expressed themselves and have come out with original views and praiseworthy suggestions, which should be duly considered in framing the school education policy by expert committee and Government of Tamil Nadu.
Heads of several educational institutions in Tamil Nadu spread the message about the essay competition among the students and encouraged them to participate in the essay competition and send their views.
Among the participants ,92% are girls and rest of them are boys. 56% of school students participated and the rest are college students.
Following twelve students have been awarded prize for their entries :
* B. Nitya - M O P Vaishnav College for women, Chennai
* S. Kanishka – Cluny Mat. Hr. Sec. School, Salem
* M. Sherley Kerena - St. Mary’s College, Thoothukudi
* S. Vaanavi – Savitri Vidyasala Hindu Girls Hr. Sec. School, Trichy
* R. Vanya- Holy Cross Anglo Indian Hr. Sec. School, Tuticorin
* V. Sudekshana – St.Joseph’s Anglo Indian Girls’ Hr. Sec.School, Trichy
* N.H.Gayathire - Velammal Vidyashram, Chennai
* P. Thillai Ramya – Sri. Sarada College for women, Tirunelveli
* S. Swetha - Cauvery Mat. Hr. Sec. School.,Trichy
* S.P.Raja Sanjaypathy - BHEL Matriculation. School, Trichy
* D. Steffi - St. Mary’s College, Thoothukudi
* Anita Ramesh, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Chennai
Highlights of the views and suggestions of the students are given below, which are being submitted to Tamil Nadu Government for it’s consideration.
Reform has become repetitive exercise
In the past few years, several reform measures have been initiated by Government of Tamil Nadu to improve the quality of school education in the state. The very fact that reform measures are now considered necessary in 2017 after so many reforms earlier, only highlight the fact that the past reform measures have not achieved the desired ends.
While implementing the new reforms in 2017-18, it is necessary to investigate , before repeating the exercise, as to why the past reform measures have not benefitted to the level of expectations.
Obviously, the failure of various past reform measures have been due to inadequacy in implementation of the reform measures in letter and spirit in efficient and committed manner by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Too many systems for school education
There are different kind of systems for school education in Tamil Nadu such as state board, CBSE, ICSE, Matriculation, Anglo Indian system . The syllabus and method of teaching in different system is some what different ,which has caused confusion among the students as to which system is better..
It is necessary that the system of school education in Tamil Nadu should be only one and should be tuned with national trend.
Different types of system should be abolished as they serve no special purpose and only CBSE system of education should be adopted in Tamil Nadu, so that the performance of Tamil Nadu students can be evaluated at All India level and they can compete at All India level.
Private schools vis a vis government schools
The objective and goal of the private schools and government owned and government aided schools are the same. There need be no conflict of interests between them. The only difference is the accountability, which is much less in government schools compared to private schools.
Private schools are often accused of being run as business model with profit motive and collecting exorbitant fees from the students under various pretext. This is a fact.
In Indian society, there is bound to be disparity in income between various families for long time to come. To meet the needs of students from lower income group, government owned and government aided schools are absolutely necessary.
Let those who can afford to pay go to the private schools, if they want.
The economically poor students complain that education in private schools have become beyond their reach. As the standard of education in private schools are better than in the government schools, students from lower income group who have to go to government schools feel that they are deprived of quality education.
The fault lies not in the type of ownership of the school nor in syllabus . The problems lies in the poor management of government schools by the government.
Instead of reforming the government schools and admitting the government’s failure to ensure quality education in these schools, the government is trying to find fault with the syllabus and system of education. This is like chasing the shadow.
Basics of syllabus sound
Repeatedly, once in every 3 or 4 years, government is tampering with the syllabus in various classes. This is unnecessary and almost amount to waste of efforts..
Subjects such as Chemistry and Physics do not change and where is the need to tamper with the syllabus.?
In the name of changing the syllabus, the government is introducing more advanced aspects of subject in the school curriculum, thinking that this would improve the standard of education. In doing so, government is not taking into consideration, the capacity of the cross section of the young teenage students, who have to understand such complex subjects in short period of time.
Better syllabus need not mean more intensive syllabus, which school students at teenage often find it difficult to understand and appreciate but have to only blindly accept and reproduce.
It is often seen that some of lessons in the subjects taught in the schools are repeated in degree level classes.
Further, considering the fact that students opt for different types of courses at the degree level, many of the advanced subjects taught to the school students are not useful to them in the long run.
In revision of syllabus, confused thinking of the experts behind the syllabus revision are clearly evident and lack of clarity about the objective of the exercise is obvious.
Government schools drag down overall performance
It has to be admitted that the overall performance and standard of school education in Tamil Nadu look dismal ,mainly due to poor performance of government schools, which are in large number and cater to thousands of students.
Of course, performance and standard in government aided schools are better than government owned schools, corporation and panchayat schools.
However, it is reported that the government has decided not to support any more number of government aided schools, which is an unfortunate and negative decision.
Families from lower income group often admit their children in government schools reluctantly and helplessly, as they cannot pay fees demanded by private schools.
Even the officials in education department and teachers working in the government schools do not want to send their children to government schools. This makes it amply clear that the conditions in government schools are far from desirable level.
Most of the incidents of teachers misbehaving with the girl students are reported only in government and panchayat run schools.
Government has to be squarely blamed for such deplorable conditions, as it’s supervision and administration of the schools are so poor.
Any attempt to reform the school education without reforming the administration and management of the government schools, would be waste of time and is bound to end up as an exercise in futility.
Let not the students be blamed for poor standard of government schools.
No doubt, government spends as much as around Rs.30,000 crore per year in supporting education. Most of such expenses of government are spent towards providing freebies to the students in government owned and government aided schools like uniform, textbooks, geometry box, cycles, laptops, shoes, free bus pass etc. etc. On the other hand, money spent in improving the facilities in the schools are much less, which is great dis service to the poor students. Students and parents would not mind, if better facilities are provided even by reducing the freebies.
Teachers in government schools are very well paid. But they often resort to agitation and go for public protest and indulge in strikes, for one reason or the other. It seems that many of them do not care that they should be role models to the student community. Why not the government ban the school teachers forming associations and unions ?
No time for introspection and assimilation
Students are locked in a closed system in the private and government schools. Education is imparted to the students only to get academic qualification . Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge but knowledge only to get grades in the exams have become the be all and end all of school education in Tamil Nadu.
In several of the schools, in the eleventh standard, only 12th standard lessons are taught skipping the 11th standard syllabus, as there is no public exam for 11th standard.
Crowded with the heavy syllabus and with little time for anything else ,the students rarely visit the library in the schools and do extra readings.
Most of the schools have library but there is no period for students to sit and read in the library . Some schools even refuse to give book to the students from library to take home for reading.
Students should be given opportunities to listen to lectures of experts on extra subjects that are not covered by syllabus and examination. This is seldom done and in most schools ,not even once the experts are invited to lecture to the students in a year.
Finally, the students pass out with only lessons in mind that are quickly forgotten after exams.
Most schools do not conduct any special programme for students at 11th and 12th standard to give them guidance about the choice of higher education.
While framing the syllabus, it is necessary to provide extra time to students for introspection and assimilation , so that the students do not look like soul less automaton.
School exams – Now a laughing stock :
It is strange to see so many students get centum in so many subjects including language. Inflation of marks is so high that it has become difficult to grade the students by way of ranks , forcing the government to suspend announcement of ranks itself after the examination !.
It is often seen that students with several centums have done poorly in professional courses.
Examination systems are faulty and this issue has not received attention in implementing the reform measures. Often the questions are straightaway selected from the text books and with lot of choice of questions and students who can memorise, score so much of marks even without understanding the basic concepts.
No doubt, exams are necessary as teaching is never complete without the assessment of the students.
Instead of taking the plus two marks alone for eligibility for higher courses, the average marks of 10th, 11th& 12th standards should be considered .
Testing and marking systems need to be properly evolved to recognize original contribution of the students in terms of creativity. Memorising does not amount to learning. The present system of exams only encourage memorizing.
Why not conduct open book examination atleast in an experimental way in selected subjects to start with?
Lack of inspection in schools :
It is said that in earlier days , schools used to be visited by the education authorities once in a year to rate the students and schools. This practice has been totally given up. This should be immediately resumed that would enable to rate the schools and enforce care amongst school management.
Importance of basic education :
It is seen that only students who are exposed to good facilities and teaching at elementary and middle school level mostly do well in the higher secondary classes. This is the area where the government schools fare very poorly.
It is necessary to give as much importance to the education at the level of elementary and middle school as it is given in the higher classes.
Optimal solution though not ideal solution.
It is certainly not possible to impart ideal kind of education for all students in today’s scenario in Tamil Nadu, as the family and economic background of students are different and the standards of teaching in schools vary significantly. However, it is certainly possible to improve the overall standards of education by paying greater attention at micro level to various issues.
The government owned and government aided schools have very big role to play, as the students from lower income group often in deprived conditions study in these schools and they need support.
Finally, one question. Why not the children of ministers, politicians and top government officials send their children to government schools, which will have a dramatic effect in improving the performance of the government schools?
All along in the past, we have seen lip support for government schools from ministers and top bureaucrats from a distance.