June 30, 2016 8:47:57 pm
On Wednesday, the Delhi government introduced a new education policy to address the issue of mass failures in Class IX, plaguing government school children, through child mapping, special classes and grouping them in specific segments. Blaming the Centre’s no detention policy for the academically low standards, Education Minister Manish Sisodia said the policy’s aim would be to ‘make children work hard and pass the 2018 exams’.
Appreciating the intention behind the policy, educationists and school principals are already expressing scepticism over the results it is likely to achieve. As per educationists, the government’s move seems aimed at ‘bumping the pass percentage’ in Class IX ignoring the many ‘systemic failures’ that are responsible for the issue.
“When a child fails in a school, it is the system that fails the child,” says Ameeta Mulla Wattal, Principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road. “So it is important that an initiative of this kind be introduced, but it is extremely important to identify the errors in the system that are leading to the problem. Even if one blames the no-detention policy, it is difficult to explain students failing in any class. It could be because of the students themselves, but mostly it is about the quality of teaching, the curriculum and the way children are taught. And these are things that need to be addressed foremost”.
As per Professor Janaki Rajan, an educationist with more than two decades of experience and now teaching in Jamia, the scheme is unlikely to yield positive results on account of the government’s flawed understanding of the issue.
“Class IX is not a Board exam, but an internal exam conducted by each school. The formative assessments are project based and extremely scoring, while the summative assessments are test based. It is impossible to fail at least in formative assessments if the teacher assigns projects on students’ learning levels. In Delhi government schools, the entire system is centralized leading to students from across the city writing a more or less common exam irrespective of what they learn in school. And teachers having little autonomy in setting papers. The entire spirit of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) goes for a toss,” Rajan says.
Instead, principals suggest creating a ‘minimum learning module’ in entry level classes of government schools to address the problem at hand. “Devising a minimum entry level learning module for government schools wouldn’t just be more effective but will help to solve the problem from scratch. Working on a coordination mechanism with MCDs from where a huge chunk of students come from to improving learning outcomes is another viable option,” says S K Bhattacharya, President, Action Committee of Unaided Private Schools in the capital.
Government school principals have also expressed reservation over the way the scheme is going to be implemented. “ It’s going to be chaos in classrooms. I am not sure how we will maintain an optimum student teacher ratio or teach the deluge of students who will be coming in. Many schools are already overcrowded. Then there is the issue of schools not having enough permanent teachers. Most schools are running on guest teachers who are just not motivated enough to do anything extra. We can take as many classes as we want, but till basic issues are not sorted, the problems will remain,” a government school teacher said.