THAT government primary school students are falling behind their counterparts at non-government schools and kindergartens, according to results of Primary Education Completion Examination over past five years, is a matter of grave concern; it brings to the fore the government’s indifference to primary education. The percentage of GPA 5 achievers was 40-44 for high school-attached primary schools, 22-24 for kindergartens and 2 to 7 for government primary schools over the past five years. In 2016, 6.97 per cent of PEC examinees could score GPA 5 from government primary schools, with 2.2 per cent from newly nationalised schools added to this. But 41.12 per cent of PEC examinees scored GPA 5 from primary schools attached to high schools and 24.43 per cent from kindergartens. With the pass percentage in the PEC examinations in all the five years remaining almost the same, the figures certainly point to something that has gone awry in the government primary education management. It is time the government resolved the problem.
Educationalists put the blame for the sorry state of government schools down to the lack of quality classroom teaching and absence of adequate facilities, which include inadequate number of trained teachers, absence of proper supervision, poor academic environment, poor teacher-student ratio and lack of teachers’ accountability. The Education Watch report of the Campaign for Popular Education, published in December 2015, shows that the teacher-student ratio in government primary school is 1:52 whereas the ratio in schools of the kindergarten type is 1:22. Besides, the average number of classrooms in government schools is 4.9 while it is 7.2 in kindergartens. The report also found 13 per cent of government teachers remaining absent from the schools, which indicates a high level of absenteeism on part of the teachers in the absence of any effective mechanism to streamline their attendance. It is generally perceived that the poor send their children to government primary schools as they cannot afford the education and associated facilities that well-off families can do after sending their children to non-government schools or kindergartens. In this situation, education officials routinely blame guardians, especially in cities, for turning their children away from government primary schools, leaving the schools in the lurch when the outcome of public examinations is taken into account. Authorities need to abstain from using this rhetoric, in efforts to wash hands of the failures that keep plaguing primary education in government schools.
At this juncture, we have no other options but to hope that stark reality will jolt the incumbents out of their indifference and prompt them into serious brainstorming so as to come up with a comprehensive strategy to bring order in government primary schools. Responsibility devolves upon them to improve teaching and academic environment in government schools by recruiting adequate number of quality teachers without any partisan bias and affording better atmosphere for learning. To encourage the meritorious to join the teaching profession, and to hold them back in the profession forestalling their quitting, the government also needs to increase the teachers’ salary.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial