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  2. 2. WHILE CLOSE TO 90% CHILDREN IN THE AGE GROUP 6-11 AGE GROUP ARE FORMALLY ENROLLED IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS, NEARLY 40% DROP OUT AT THE PRIMARY STAGE ITSELF.  Half of India’s schools have a leaking roof or no water supply.  35% have no blackboard or furniture.  Close to 90% have no functioning toilets. (Keep Your Promise Campaign)  Student-teacher ratio in most states is 1:80.  Only 58% of the children enrolled in class 3-5 can read a class 1 text. (ASER Survey, 2011)  Only 47% are able to do simple 2 digit subtraction. (ASER Survey, 2011)  Reading and Maths skills of class 4 pupils in India’s top schools are below the international average, in fact near the bottom. (WIPRO-EI Quality Education Study, 2011)  Only 16% of class 4 pupils could measure the length of a pencil with a ruler. (WIPRO-EI Quality Education Study, 2011)  2 out of every 3 school-going children were physically abused. (Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2007)  12% of schools have just 1 teacher. Half of the schools had no teaching activity on the day of unannounced visit of investigators due to teacher absenteeism. (PROBE, 2006)  The rapid development of “South Asian Tigers”, that is, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong was greatly helped by achievement of these countries in public education.  Ability to read, write and count has a direct effect on the quality of life and the freedoms that we enjoy.  Basic education can be instrumental in tackling health problems and improving public health.  Divisions of class and caste are eradicated in the classroom.  The foundations of an individual’s cognitive, creative and intellectual abilities are laid in the primary school. PROBLEMS SIGNIFICANCE OF PRIMARY EDUCATION “There should be no community with an illiterate family, nor a family with an illiterate person” Meiji Code of Education, Japan (1872). Japan achieved 100 literacy in 1910.
  3. 3. MAJOR OBSTACLES • LACK OF ADEQUATE INFRASTRUCTURE •SHORTAGE AND INEFFCIENCY OF TEACHERS •SOCIAL HURDLES •FAULTY EVALUATION SYSTEM ACTIVE PLAYERS •GOVERNMENT •COMMUNITY •CIVIL SOCIETY/NGOS •CORPORATE SECTOR •FAMILY POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS •STRENGTHENING THE EXISTING FRAMEWORK. •UNPRECEDENTE D AND INNOVATIVE MEASURES. “In a society, particularly in the modern world, where so much depends on the written medium, being illiterate is like being imprisoned and school education opens the door through which people can escape incarceration.” - Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions
  4. 4. HOW TO TACKLE INFRASTRUCTURAL ISSUES • Since government financing will remain the cornerstone of public education, responsibility to improve the existing infrastructure of primary schools falls on the government. • Infrastructure must not be taken to mean merely brick-and-mortar structures. Atmosphere needs to be sufficiently comfortable to ensure an environment for children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. i. Electricity - Since at the primary level, the amount of electricity required is minimal, solar power generation devices can be installed for powering schools, especially in rural areas. ii. Learning Aids – In addition to basic requirements like blackboards, chalk, chart-papers et cetera, every school must have availability of computers and connectivity to internet. This will facilitate learning via innovative means such as audio-visual lectures via Skype. iii. Drinking water, toilets and other essential amenities – These facilities are very important as girl students are prevented from attending schools in the absence of an in-built toilet. Availability of drinking water facility will pre-empt occurrences like students being instructed to fetch water from the nearby well, as is frequently observed in rural schools.
  5. 5. HOW TO DEAL WITH SHORTAGE AND INEFFICIENCY OF TEACHERS? BETTER TRAINING •Over 99% of 7.95 lakh teachers taking Central Teaching Eligibility Test failed. •Reason: Outdated B.Ed. Degree system. •B.Ed. Curriculum should inculcate practical skills (such as skill, ability and attitude required to teach students) instead of theoretical knowledge. Apprenticeship should be made a must before teachers are regularized. Under this policy, B.Ed. students can be made to act as teaching assistants for a certain period under supervision of experienced teachers. GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY •Next requirement is to make teachers more accountable. •Paying urgent attention to issues of teacher governance, including better teacher monitoring and supervision as well as teacher performance measurement and management will be helpful. •Here the role of community steps in. Parents must be encouraged to seek feedback from their children regarding what their teachers taught them. A regular meeting of parents must be organized wherein they can discuss their ideas about teachers’ efficiency received from the children. •Biometric system of recording attendance must be installed so that instances of teacher absenteeism can be monitored and punished.
  6. 6. CONFRONTING SHORTAGE •The next issue is shortage of teachers. •Local Recruitments must be encouraged, as this would ensure end to absenteeism and the sense of belongingness which a local teacher will enjoy with the students will ensure better teaching. •Unlike recruits from city who may seize any opportunity to go home, locals would be available on a daily basis, owing to their residence in the vicinity. RELIEVING WORKLOAD •Teachers must not be delegated tasks such as supervising elections to panchayat & legislatures, acting as census agents and workers in immunization camps. •This will reduce the workload from their shoulders, as these extra tasks distract them from their primary task of teaching. CARROT-AND-STICK •Regular assessment of students by external agencies would be an effective means of ascertaining the performance of the teachers. •Unsatisfactory results in these assessments would indicate that the teacher has failed in dispensation of knowledge commensurate with the grades the students examined are in. •While poor performance must be dealt with strictly, good performance must be recognized and duly rewarded. •This will boost the motivation levels of the teacher which will in turn lead to significant improvements in teaching standards and hence primary education.
  7. 7. HOW TO TACKLE SOCIAL HURDLES IN THE PATH OF QUALITY PRIMARY EDUCATION? ENROLLMENT STAGE •Incentives must be given to the parents to send their children to schools. •Existing schemes like mid-day meals should be more efficiently administered. •Economic support may be provided to poor-households on the condition that they send their children to school. •School funding allocations should be published in local newspapers so that the additions to existing school infrastructure can convince parents to send their children to schools. INCENTIVISING GOOD PERFORMANCE •Recognition and reward in case of improved performances would be an incentive for students to attend classes frequently and learn diligently. •Further, a collection of books must be maintained and incentives must be provided to students to engage in reading exercises outside their academic curriculum. •A child-centered and activity based process of learning should be adopted at the primary stage. OTHER SOCIAL INCONGRUENCIES •Teachers recruited from cities cannot connect and empathize well with students from a rural background and this leads to friction and creates communication barriers between the teacher and the taught. Hence, local recruitments must be encouraged.
  8. 8. IMPROVING THE CURRENT EVALUATION SYSTEM… •To ensure meaningful learning, both the outcome and the process of evaluation/assessment are important and essential. •The information on the indicators of achievement can be collected from school records, teacher’s interviews, pupil’s assessments and evacuation records which would help in: 1. Identifying the gaps in the evaluation strategies to develop new and improved strategies for enhancing learner’s achievement. 2. Adopting and improving upon existing assessment and evaluation tools. • The current system of examination promotes rote learning instead of testing behavioral skills, application skills and creative thinking skills. • Students have been known to copy paragraphs as though they were drawing pictures, with the result that they were unable to read what they were writing. Neither did thy understand the meaning of what they were writing. • Classroom participation, co-curricular activities, extra-curricular activities should be an important criteria of assessing the student’s performance in the school. • The curriculum must be such that it does not merely focus on rote-learning. • The focus should be upon making the curriculum more and more contextual adopting a holistic approach to educational development by incorporating knowledge, skills, values et cetera relevant to the child’s life situation.
  9. 9. OTHER MEASURES TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF PRIMARY EDUCATION • NGOs and civil society must be proactively engaged in supplementing the learning process by involving students and professionals in teaching at community schools. • They can help sensitize teachers towards individual needs of the students. •Students from senior classes and colleges must be encouraged to teach primary school students on weekends. • Since many parents want their children to become “officers” and students themselves nurture certain aspirations, occasional visits by those who occupy high positions can serve as a great motivator to students to work harder and excel at academics. •Motivated students shall make strong demands of their teachers who shall then be required to deliver better performance. • Projects on the lines of ‘Hole-in-the-well’ scheme of Essar Foundation which aims at providing effective educational and learning solutions to the under-privileged children residing in Essar Power (Jharkhand) Limited project villages. •These enhanced contributions by the corporate sector, supplement the government efforts of reaching out to the marginalized sections of the society.
  10. 10. • Tax rebates for corporations if they invest in primary education. The idea of intersection between Corporate Social Responsibility and primary education must be explored by policy makers. •Finally, the government must implement and execute existing programmes and policies in the field of primary education such as mid-day meals, RTE, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan with reignited zeal and efficiency. “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” - John F. Kennedy