GOVERNMENT primary schools falling behind non-government schools and kindergartens in primary-final examinations for three consecutive years, as New Age reported on Sunday, comes to be concerning. In 2016, 6.97 per cent of PEC examinees could score GPA 5 from government 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, which include a negligible few that are government, and 24.43 per cent from kindergartens. In 2015, the percentage of GPA 5 achievers from government schools was 6.56, from primary schools attached to high schools 44 and from kindergartens 24. In 2014, 6.97 per cent of the GPA 5 achievers were from government schools, 41 per cent from primary schools attached to high schools and 24 per cent from kindergartens. With the pass percentage in the PEC examinations in the three years remaining almost the same, the figures point to something that has gone awry in the primary education management. With government primary schools far outweighing non-government schools in number and students, it is time the government resolved the problem.
Academics and guardians all put the reasons for the sorry state of government schools down to the lack of quality classroom teaching, absence of adequate facilities, which include adequately trained teachers and 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 kindergartens is 1:22. Besides, the average number of classrooms in government schools is 4.9 while it is 7.2 in kindergartens. The organisation also found 13 per cent of government teachers remaining absent from schools on the day it conducted the survey, 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 spend that much on the education and associated facilities that well-off families can do in sending their children to non-government schools or kindergartens. Education officials also routinely blame guardians, especially in cities, for turning their children away from government primary schools, leaving the schools to falter in the outcome of public examinations. Setting aside this rhetoric, in efforts to wash hands of the failures that keep plaguing primary education in government schools, education managers should now resolve to better the imparting of education in government schools.
It is for the government, under the circumstances, to improve teaching and academic environment in government schools by recruiting trained teachers, training the existing teachers and affording better atmosphere for learning. Guardians send their children to non-government schools and kindergartens, at an extra cost, as the government schools are mired in problems. Guardians would certainly be willing to save their money by sending children to government schools only if the quality improves.
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