I have born to a middle-class family in a not so popular village of Odisha and completed my Upper primary schooling in a Government School. Then we moved to Cuttack City and got enrolled again in a Government High Schools, then Govt University and hence can differentiate a little between Urban Education and Rural Education. These differences give rise to some of the major challenges that we need to overcome immediately. The below points are not based on any research, rather these are my personal observations during my student life and during our team’s work at Mo Pathashla.
- Teachers are just teachers
When we thought of teacher we thought of a tough sir or mam who is strict enough to make us fear of them. The same feeling continues in our village schools even today. The most fearsome factor is that teachers are not even upgrading their subject knowledge. However, Govt. Department arranging several training camps, help is rectifying the condition. I will only have one suggestion to my fellow teachers, that take teaching as a service and not a job for earning money.
- Science is just theory
Science classes are even pathetic without any practical demonstration, even the basic experiments. However, Govt supplies every school required scientific instruments to be stored in cupboard only. I recollect one memory of mine here; when I am at 5th standard we have taught about Sun Dial and we a group of people started exploring the working in the school playground during our lunch break. Science is interesting and everywhere, our schools need to emphasize on the practical demonstration during the theoretical delivery.
- Exam is just an event
Examinations are now just a joke with steps by Education Department to have no fails till 7th grade, moving to a grading system, where teachers and school authorities do not know the meaning of a grade or properly awarding them. Even today what I see in my village high school and others a trend of malpractice during the examinations and they just want to increasing passing percentage of the school. Despite of doing a risky job, they should rather focus on quality delivery of the contents to students to know their real potential.
- Books are the only resource
Here comes another interesting observation. Despite of more than half of the high schools having a computer lab, they are just used to teach students about keyboard, mousse, basic, C, Paint, word, Excel…and that’s all. The students only depend upon the text books and to some extend so-called test papers to prepare for the exam. They do not have access to external or additional content to explore.
- School is a political play ground
Last but not the least, our schools are used actively for all the political affair of the village, be it mid-day meal, infrastructure development, annual village function, panchayat meets and may more. Our village leaders even have issue with the teacher appointments or transfers. Schools are now becoming political battlefield for leader to showcase development in terms of creating new school building, providing sanitation facility, etc. but no one cares about the quality.
Despite of all these issues there are many teachers, staffs and schools who are making a lot of progress and driving change. What we really need to do is to critically analyses the nagging issues and prepare action plan. We do not need to take reference of foreign education systems, rather need to develop customized plans for each area or locality. There is a lot of work to do and we need at least a decade more to correct the things. The evolvement of public private partnership can be a lot of help to reduce this timeline significantly and we are awaiting to see the changes.