THE education minister has recently said that the government wants to bring about changes in the education system to make education joyful. She has said that the education system is very much dependent on examinations and certificates; and education from the pre-primary to the university level is devoid of joy. So, the government wants to bring joy in education so that curiosity could grow among students.
It is learnt from newspaper reports that the government is planning to step over the present education system to make it more enjoyable and time-befitting to enable students to acquire knowledge with joy.
There are a few questions: how to make learning joyful? who are the biggest agents to make lessons joyful? what are the main barriers to making lessons joyful? How to ensure joyful learning? All are easy questions. But the answers are not simple.
Joyful education means engaging and empowering students and a playful learning of meaningful contents in a loving and supportive community. Students always improve their knowledge of themselves and issues around them through a learning process that is joyful.
We always aspire to have quality education. This is why the government formulated the Education Policy 2010, which came to be lauded But the Education Policy 2010 could not be fully implemented for a number of practical reasons.
Based on the education policy, new textbooks were written with authentic materials and contents. The government brought changes in the syllabus and the curriculum, evaluation process, introducing of new subjects, etc. A technological revolution took place in the period; Technology and technological equipment are made available to almost all teachers and schools or colleges. And adequate training was provided for the teachers and academic administrators.
The government is further bringing major changes in textbooks. It appears that the government is trying to achieve quality education. In spite of that, teaching and learning neither could be made joyful nor quality education could be ensured in the past decade. Teaching at primary, secondary, and higher secondary level is almost miserable, which warrants that corrective measures should be taken early.
We have campaigned for quality education for long. Now the government has realised the truth and is taking proactive steps. The minister has said that textbooks have no connection with reality. So, the government is bringing about changes in textbooks in a shift of focus on quality education. We have come to know that changes are coming in different branches of science and our knowledge.
The government has now taken initiatives to revise the education policy that was formulated in 2010. There is no denying that many changes have taken place in the world during this period. It is, therefore, time to revise, refine and add to the education policy.
The government plans all this to ensure quality education through a joyful teaching and learning. The government has succeeded in decreasing illiteracy and containing the dropout rate. Now, the government has put attention on quality education at every level — primary, secondary and tertiary.
If we want to ensure joyful learning for students in all stages, especially primary, secondary and higher secondary levels, we must concentrate on a number major issues. There is no single-point solution for success. Firstly, the formulation of textbooks based on reality and needs is essential. The textbooks which are written after 2012, based on the Education Policy 2010, are still good. New thoughts and ideas, issues and contents are incorporated in books.
Textbook lessons are also comprehensible, but we could not create an appeal in students. However, if textbooks are further modified based on students’ needs, it will be most welcome for the cause of joyful education. We must remember that textbooks of any sort cannot ensure joyful education until the delivery is not given by teachers.
Secondly, the role of teachers is very fundamental in all respects to ensure a joyful learning. All steps and efforts of the government will utterly fail if teachers do not perform their duties as per the guidelines set in the curriculum. Classes must be participatory; learners must not be kept as passive listeners; teachers must not appear as threats to learners. They must study new things to attain new knowledge, and should be aware of what is happening in the present world.
They must learn new techniques to apply. Joyful learning is possible if teachers believe that it is possible and perform accordingly. We must remember that teaching is about inspiring and motivating students to realise and hone out their potential. Great teachers have always devoted their lives to inspiring and empowering their students to achieve great things and be good human beings.
Thirdly, the monitoring of teaching should be a must by the government and the authorities concerned. Teachers’ activities irrespective of government and non-government institutions should be brought under supervision. Teachers must follow the instruction set by the government. They cannot perform based on their whims and whatever they like to perform.
Fourthly, in line with the Education Policy, the teacher-student ratio at both primary and secondary levels was determined as 1:30. But, the teacher-student ratio is now 1:37 at the primary level and 1:45 at the secondary level, which is quite quorrying. Joyful learning is hardly possible in a large size of class. So, an ideal classroom size is essential.
Fifthly, internal formal tests must be reduced because it creates stress and anxiety in learners. A test or examination can be a stressful time for any student. Students experience big amount of stress and anxiety before and during examinations that can impair learning and hurt student performance. Terminal and mid-term tests should be done away with and classroom-based alternative progress tests may be introduced for assessment.
Joyful learning can flourish in school if we give it a chance. Teaching is hard. We should give the students something to do, not something to learn. And they will start thinking when they start doing all this. Learning will naturally come forth.
Dr Md Enamul Hoque is a researcher and teacher trainer.
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