On January 19, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released by the Pratham foundation acquired sufficient space in almost all the leading newspapers. It recorded the trends in school enrollment, attendance on one hand, and reading and writing abilities on the other hand. The report puts forth many observations but the one made on the increase in the proportion of kids taking paid tuition besides schools intrigues me as a teacher and a parent. Some states like Bihar, Nagaland, Jharkhand Manipur, and Uttar Pradesh too show a growth of more than 7.9 percent in 2022. And all India's percentage is 4.2. this excludes the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Tripura.
The age group of 6 to 14 is part of the survey. 11% to 15% is the percentage in the rural areas.
Children have to invest a lot of time and almost double their energy in mastering the skills in their schooling phase. It is essential to analyze this situation carefully. The fundamental reason ought to be identified and worked upon. Even in the cities like Pune, the picture is not different.
We as a society invest money and energy in the education system and it doesn't seem to be adequate as children need additional support. Society has to spend twice on the same need. If the time invested is to be considered, a society spends much more than what is measured and visible.
Probably our education system needs an overhaul. There is an urgent need to carefully examine our teachers' training system.
Probably continuous training and inclusion of relevant technics have to be made a part of the system. A teacher once a part of the system, works for at least three decades. During this period the requirements and expectations change a lot. Should there not be some way to accommodate this? The teachers should be equipped to face the change.
Usually, service training is just 'ticking the box' events. Reports are submitted with barely any serious content by the participants and there is hardly any critical analysis or will to introduce meaningful changes in the system.
Even the training colleges need to change the mindset of the trainers. The resource persons ( the teachers from the training institutes) permanently remain at the institution, they never work with schools to asses the changing expectations and needs of the student's fraternity. Neither is there any provision for enthusiastic and innovative teachers to work in the training institutes? No such mobility exists. Both classes stand to be deprived of the advantages of interaction or interchange of roles.
Resource persons gradually are stuck with the theory and become disinterested and rigid thus pay attention to the external and visible factors only. The soul of the process of character building for the society and nation gets totally neglected. Such a huge system is rendered futile.
When a child with normal intellectual abilities cannot learn the most basic skills, doesn't it point out at some weaknesses of the system? Is it not a disservice to society? Should even the parents not be made to understand the changes? They along with the children are the major stakeholders. All ought to work together. The ideal situation would be that schools should be able to state with confidence that once the child is enrolled in the school, parents don't have to worry about their learning.
The child would definitely learn at every step the essential skills. The rest of the time outside school may be used for other things. This is not the case now.
It is understood that the parents of first-generation school-going children want to ensure that they cannot help kids much.
There is one observation that parents expect more from their wards, so they try to get help wherever it is possible. Fortunately, they are aware that education is essential for progress and development, but the root cause is probably they don't have confidence in the system. Even they need to invest twice in education. This is to be changed.
And there are many in rural areas who totally depend on the system provided by the government. If the system is not efficient we would fail them. The present situation is a complex phenomenon, but we need to start somewhere. As we have a new national education policy drafted very carefully to cover many factors, it is time to examine the present system and start attempts to change it.