STUDENTS from rural areas lagging behind their fellows in urban areas in public examinations has become a never-ending tale, belying the government claims that measures have been taken to redress the situation. The results of the Higher Secondary Certificate Examinations, published Thursday, shows that 40 per cent, or 19,399, out of the total number of GPA 5 achievers, or 25,562, under eight general education boards are from the capital city, where educational institutions are better equipped with teaching staff and educational facilities. The results further show that students in rural areas lag behind their fellows in urban areas also in terms of pass percentage. The pass percentage of students from the capital city is 83 while the national average is only 3.4. Besides, the number of institutions, offering both higher secondary and madrassah education, having less than 50 per cent pass has increased fourfold to 2,081 in five years and most of the institutions with pass percentage in the 0–50 ranges are in rural areas. The number of institutions having less than 50 per cent pass was 1,771 in 2017, 862 in 2016, 1,236 in 2015 and 542 in 2014. The number of institutions having no successful examinee more than doubled to 55 in 2018 from 24 in 2014.
Educationists and educationalists both blame this situation on the shortage of competent teachers resulting in poor classroom teaching and library, laboratory and other educational facilities in rural areas, which the government claims to have, for some years, been attending to. But the results suggest that such government efforts, if any, are not adequate or the claims are mere empty rhetoric. The government should immediately step up its efforts to improve the academic environment, with all that is needed, in educational institutions in rural areas. In addition to this, the scope for coaching, private tuition and proper guidance from teachers and parents are better in urban areas compared with rural areas. The only way that seems possible for the government to make any intervention here is to stop the business of coaching and to put in more efforts to improve classroom teaching. What also comes up as an issue that warrants attention is that, as the examinations controller of the Dinajpur eduction board seeks to say, the rural students lag behind as they are poor, mostly, at English and mathematics and, in many cases, also at science subjects. The education minister seeks to say that there have been measures for additional classes in English and mathematics in institutions in rural areas. But any visible improvement has not as yet been in sight.
The government, under the circumstance, must immediately increase its investment in national education and attend to the problems that plague primary, secondary and higher secondary education. About 94 per cent of all cadet college students are reported to have achieved GPA 5 this year; the results are expected given the facilities that are better and spending on eduction that is higher in the colleges. The government must not delay in taking step to narrow the widening gap between rural and urban students in national education.
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