Friday, January 24, 2014

Raise Quality of Teaching in Government Schools

Raise Quality of Teaching in Government Schools

Published: 23rd January 2014 06:00 AM
Last Updated: 23rd January 2014 01:07 AM
Government spending on elementary education does not seem to yield adequate returns. Between central and state governments, a staggering sum of Rs 1,47,000 crore was spent on elementary education in 2013. It marked double the sum of Rs 68,500 crore spent in 2008. It is a matter of national satisfaction that enrolment in elementary schools is now as high as 96 per cent. Nobody would, therefore, grudge the higher spending on education. However, the quantitative growth is not matched by any qualitative growth, as borne out by the latest Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) for rural India.
The report shows the proportion of students studying in private schools in rural areas has been steadily increasing. In 2013, the percentage of rural students studying in government schools stood at 29, against 17 in 2005. It is a pointer to the parents’ lack of confidence in the education imparted through government schools. They cannot be blamed for this as the Aser report has found that only 37 per cent students studying in Class V of government schools were able to read books prescribed for Class II. In comparison, 62 per cent students in private schools were able to pass this simple test. Several other reports like that of Dr Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Trust have pointed out this growing hiatus between the quality of education in private and government schools.
The reasons for the disparities are well-known. First, the system of all-pass allows students to reach higher classes without a proper grounding in various subjects. Absenteeism among teachers, poor monitoring of teaching and lack of adequate teachers are mainly responsible for the decline in the standards of education. The government spending is mostly on infrastructure rather than on teaching aids. School committees do not have any control on the spending. There is also a growing tendency among central and state governments to withdraw from the education sector, leaving it to the private sector. In fact, there is a strong case for strengthening the government presence in school education and ensuring that the quality of teaching is never compromised.

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