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WHAT AILS OUR ELEMENTARY EDUCATION?

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Mushtaq Hurra

A healthy seedbed can ensure a healthy crop as it supplies the saplings to be planted in a field. If the seedbed is weak and disease stricken, the future of the fields is sure to be unhealthy.

Elementary educational system is like the seedbed of a nation which produces the individuals to be groomed in colleges and universities as citizens. Any feeble or diseased individual can rot the whole field. Now, if all the individuals are diseased and sick, nourished in an improper and careless way, the fields are sure to be barren and infertile. The elementary educational system of our state is in shambles and is not producing desired results.

According to official figures, there are almost over 23 lakh students enrolled in 21315 government primary and Middle schools across the state. Though our private sector particularly some missionary schools are doing a commendable job but our government schools and private schools in our rural belt are not producing satisfactory results.

Recent NAS results suggest that most of the children up to class 8th, are not able to perform basic mathematical operations like addition, subtraction and multiplication; have no comprehension of English texts, are not able to read simple English sentences. The national level survey has painted a bleak picture of elementary education in our state.

Now, the billion dollar question is : Whom to blame for this mess ? We have different stakeholders in our educational system, like teachers, students, parents and policy makers. Textbooks and examination is also a big hindrance in achieving the desired results.

Blaming teachers alone is not justified. But undoubtedly, teacher is the most important stakeholder who is considered to be the driving force of behind educational process. Our teacher is more qualified than his predecessors but something is surely missing. Probably, the element of responsibility and self-accountability is not inculcated there. Though we have many honest, dedicated and conscient teachers in the department but there are many shirkers who always evade classes on one or the other pretext. Thus, these black sheep have brought bad name to the whole fraternity. It is not only the lethargic approach of teachers which hampers the progress of our schools but the non-teaching assignments of our teachers adds to the miseries of our children and society.BLO duties, surveys, censuses etc have badly affected the professional endeavors of our teachers. Authorities should exempt teachers from all non-teaching jobs immediately for a positive change in our weak setup of elementary education. Moreover, teachers should realize the gravity of the situation and should come up to the expectations of their people in general and students in particular. Any indifference of teachers can prove very expressive for our future, and our coming generations can pay a heavy price for it.

Next come our parents. I think teachers and parents are equally responsible for shaping up the careers of our children. Here, I am reminded of a great saying of Napoleon Bonaparte; “Give me good mothers I shall give you good nation". Parents in general and Mothers in particular play a vital role in the upbringing and education of a child. Some years back, parents would show keen interest in the education of their children but today's parents are so busy in the material pursuits that they hardly remember the most important domain of their children, i.e, education. The situation is more grim in government schools where parents neglect their children to the extent that they even don't care about their cleanliness and health. How can they think about their education in such case? Most of the parents never bother to visit the schools where their children are pursuing education. It may be either ignorance or the lack of awareness among them. Parents should visit the schools periodically to make the teachers accountable and responsible. They should be worried about the education of their children because education is the most important investment for the better and bright future of a child. Any further negligence of our parents can worsen the already deteriorated situation.

Our officers and policy makers can instill a new lease of life into the half-dead and paralysed system of elementary education of our state.ZEOs , CEOs and even other tehsil and district level administrators should visit the schools to develop the sense of responsibility and accountability among teachers.There should be positive feedback for appreciable work of teachers and vice versa.Being a teacher, I have a bitter experience of this official apathy where higher-ups hardly bother to visit the schools.No doubt, our officers have a huge administrative burden to shoulder upon but they should adjust their professional assignments in such a way that they can visit schools periodically though not frequently.Our law and policy makers should prioritize the educational infrastructure because poor infrastructure can hinder our educational progress to a greater extent.

Textbooks are of vital importance as for as teaching-learning process is concerned.Textbooks bridge the gap between the students and the teachers.We have a big syllabi disparity between the government and the private schools.Books of private schools attract both the teacher and the taught for their bright colored pictures and high-quality content while as the low-quality books both in terms of content and paper prove detrimental in the poor performance of our of our children. The huge syllabi content in our text books obstructs the path of quality education.Though authorities had promised to reduce the syllabi content to make the books attractive both in terms of content and paper but no change is visible so for.Paper horses can't  win the race for us.Renovations of textbooks can't be hindered in the garb of poor budget.Distributing books free of cost among children at elementary level is very appreciable and commendable but these books should be at par with the challenges of changing times.Shackles of stereotype need to be broken in order to impart education in accordance with the changing trend.

Apart from these lacunas, our elementary educational system has become examination centered.The approach of both the teacher and the student is exam centered.The Teacher teaches the student to crack the examination in order to avoid official rage and the students study Only to pass the examination.The trend is producing robots who can memorise things but can't comprehend them.This approach has reduced the utility of our education.Our lengthy examination patterns, in the name of continuous comprehensive evaluation has ruined our educational system.For instance, our 6th, 7th, 8th class examination under SIE has become a nightmare for both the teachers and the students.Months like June and July should have been utilized to impart educational instructions but this bizarre examination schedule has snatched this precious time from our children.We all are aware about the fragile political atmosphere of our valley.People at the helm of affairs should revisit this examination schedule.

Writer can be reached at mushtaqhurra143@gmail.com

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