THE National Academy for Primary Education coming to find that primary students do not acquire the expected competences in Bangla and English is concerning. And what remains further worrying is that the study, Weakness of Grade Three Students in Bangla and English: Causes and Remedies, published in June, blames the situation on the teachers most of whom are not capable of teaching their students properly. The study, as New Age reported on November 3, blames substandard teaching methods employed in classrooms which stop primary students from developing the intended skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Apart from a lack of skills of teachers, educationalists, in addition, believe that the scarcity of standard books is also responsible for the situation and say that the textbooks used are not appropriate for teaching language in schools or for encouraging students in supplementary reading. With an additional burden of scoring good marks in the result-centric examinations, the students, therefore, hardly acquire the competences in languages that are required for higher education. The study that surveyed students and teachers of 16 government primary schools finds a wide gap between the public examinations results and the competence assessed.
While 95.18 per cent of the students passed the Primary Education Completion Examinations 2017, only 12 per cent of Class V students could obtain 5 on a scale of 1–10 in Bangla reading, which is considered working, and 74 per cent of Class III students obtained 3–5 on the scale in Bangla reading, which is considered poor. The study also finds that students perform better in skills such as listening and speaking than in reading and writing. While unseen texts still remain a problem for the students, most of them are not able to tell all the letters in the alphabet, make words with letters or deal with conjunct letters in Bangla, which points to the weakness of students in telling which letters constitute certain conjunct forms and into which letters the conjunct forms break into. But the blame that the study passes onto the incapability of the teachers in teaching the students and the employment of substandard teaching methods brings up the issue of the absence of teacher training. The blame that the educationalists pass onto the textbooks being inappropriate should squarely fall on the National Curriculum and Textbook Board. And the gap that the study finds in the examinations results and the assessment well suggests that the teaching and evaluation methods are either flawed or they are not in sync with each other, which could warrant an overhaul of the education system, from teaching to examinations system, and the evaluation method.
The government, in what appears to have happened, must, therefore, attend to a number of issues to set the national primary, and perhaps secondary, education aright. There has been enough of experimentation with education, having little or no preparedness and continuity. The government must now tie up loose ends.
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