:: Education3
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Prof. S.Muthukumaran

In addition, the curriculum must include the development of the child’s ability to think and reason mathematically, to formulate and solve problems, to find logical conclusions and do abstract thinking. At the primary stage it is important to develop a positive attitude and a liking for mathematics. The children should be made to enjoy learning mathematics. At the secondary stage, they must be made to realize the power of mathematics and its relationship to other branches of knowledge Science is an expanding field of knowledge. It liberates the society from ignorance, superstition and poverty. As such at the primary stage, the child must be allowed to explore the world around it and enjoy learning about it. This will satisfy the curiosity of the child and enable it to observe, learn about the observed object, clarify or analyze the observation and make its own inferences. At the secondary stage, the child must be slowly introduced to the various sub disciplines and their relationships to real life, their usefulness to the civilized society and the like.

Social sciences include history, geography, economics, political science, sociology etc. A study of social sciences makes one a complete person by providing an account of the past and making one realize where he is, by introducing the geography and making one understand the physical realities and by explaining the present events and the activities of the society and making one lead a worthy life. In a pluralistic society such as ours, it is important that every social group is able to relate its special contribution to the society. At the primary stage, social sciences may be a part of the languages and other subjects. But the different sub disciplines are to be introduced to the child step by step as it moves to higher standards. At the secondary stage the different sub disciplines may be studied as distinct subjects. However, stress may have to be laid on contemporary issues and the child may be given an opportunity to understand the social aspects of the nation and the State.

Learning of Languages:
The country adopted some years ago, a three language formula. In the words of Ramamurti Committee, the three language formula “includes the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi speaking States, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non Hindi speaking States.” Tamil Nadu State consciously rejected this formula and adopted a two language formula which includes compulsory study of English and Tamil or any modern Indian language. This paved the way for one permanently residing in Tamil Nadu not studying Tamil but yet passing all the standards and even getting a degree. In due course, this was considered anachronistic and during 2006, the State Government issued a new policy by which it made study of Tamil compulsory in the schools in Tamil Nadu.

The idea behind making every child to learn two or three languages was that every child in this country will grow up with proficiency in the State language and the official languages of the country i.e., Hindi and English. But in actual practice after several years of implementation of this policy most of the young ones are unable to read, write and fully comprehend what is stated in any of the two or three languages and are unable to speak grammatically a few sentences in any one of the languages which he is supposed to have studied and passed. Some are able to speak well one of the languages of study. Only a handful has mastered the two or three languages they have studied. As such it is only this last group that is able to fulfill the laudable aims of this policy i.e., they could understand what is written or studied in one language and translate it into another language Thus it is seen that this policy has miserably failed. Should this policy be continued ignoring such evidence? In the report on ‘National Curricular Framework, 2005’, the committee has observed as follows: ‘A student may be allowed to “pass without English” if an alternative route for English certification (and therefore instruction) can be provided outside the regular school curriculum’. In other words, this committee has observed that one need not pass in English in order to be promoted to the next higher standard. This observation requires serious consideration.

Medium of Instruction:
In the English speaking countries, when someone uses the term medium of instruction, he usually ;means by it the method of teaching i.e., the conventional class room teaching or teaching with teaching aids or teaching using modern educational technology or teaching through the distance mode and the like. Only in countries such as ours, does the medium mean the language. In the words of Yaspal Committee on ‘Learning without Burden’, the question of medium of instruction will not be resolved ‘till the time our dominant and externally connected sections of society continue to give more importance to elementary graces in a foreign language, than to intimate connections with the vernacular knowledge.’

Knowledge generated in languages other than the local language can be made available to the large body of learners by translations made by a few who are trained to make such translations. One need not have any apprehensions in this possibility if one considers the fact that every day hundreds of news items in English and other languages are translated into the local languages by the local news papers throughout this country as well as the world. Further, if study of English is not compulsory as suggested in another section of this article, there will be an end to the discussion about the language of instruction. In conclusion, one may not take much time to accept the fact that knowledge can be imparted through any one language and the most natural language of instruction is the local language.

Art, Work, Moral and Health & Physical Education:
Almost all the Education Commissions constituted in our country have stressed the need for inclusion of art, health and physical education, work and moral education components in the school curriculum. But not much progress has been made in providing these components. The main reason is that people in general continue to think that education in the school means listening to the teacher, reading and writing. There is a need not only to educate the public but also those in the field of education the importance of getting trained in arts and in appreciating good arts to make the young ones grow as complete human beings; similarly physical education is required for healthy growth of the individuals. There is no need to stress the fact that moral education makes the students blossom as good useful citizens. In this country it is accepted if a school takes the students to do work in a public place under the National Service Scheme or National Cadet Corps. However, if the same work is required to be done at its campus, there is a hue and cry from the parents that the school is making the students do work for them. Even a child of two years will try to imitate its parents and do household work. It may also be observed that it is happy doing the same But it is the parents who brainwash them to believe that educated people will not do any manual work. On the other hand, it is known that work can be used as a mode of teaching and it gives self confidence to the young ones. Therefore, children must be encouraged to do work commensurate with their age and ability, thereby, introducing them to the world of work.

Text Books:
Text means the original words of an author without notes or commentary. Textbook means a book for study or a class book. But during the course of years it has become a convention that the textbook is the basis for the examinations. As the annual examinations have become the basis for deciding to promote a student to the higher class, the criterion for assessing whether a student has learnt a particular subject has got reduced to his ability to repeat what is found in the textbook. In due course, a number of worked out examples and exercises were added and the textbook grew in size. Today, what is required is that the student is able to recollect the appropriate portion of the textbook and repeat verbatim the same at the examination hall. Consequently, if a question in the public examination question paper is not found in the textbook, it is declared out of portion or syllabus! The end result is that the young ones passing out of the schools know only to repeat what is found in the textbook. Many of them have lost their inherent abilities to think, to reason, analyze and synthesize information gathered from a written text or oral communication. In other words, they have gained a lot of information in the school but not turned it into knowledge. It is also likely that they do not possess the ability to convert information into knowledge

In its report, Learning without Burden, the Yaspal committee pointed out that the child must be seen as a receiver of knowledge and must be encouraged to study the textbook and constitute knowledge out of its experience. Writing of textbooks is an art. It is a creative work. Educational institutions are places where creative work is done. Such places by nature bubble with enthusiasm and energy. Any attempt at uniformity will lead ultimately to decay and death. The Government may with good intentions arrange to prepare textbooks with a select group of experts and prescribe the book as the textbook for all the educational institutions. That can never help the institutions to flourish. In other words the institutions may be uniform and may have uniform standards, if a single textbook is used. However, the standard may not be worthy. Only in a free atmosphere with the availability of a number of texts will there be a learning environment. National Curricular Framework, 2005, says “availability of multiple text books widens teachers’ choices and also provides for the incorporation of diversity in relation to children’s needs and interests .. . .. the teacher can be encouraged to decide which text lessons are appropriate for specific themes for her pupils.”

In essence, a good educational system will encourage the publication of a number of textbooks for use by the student community and the student will be encouraged to learn the text, think, assimilate the information and be ready to face the examination where for a given question he will construct the answer in his own way.

Evaluation:
Examinations are necessary for providing an assessment of the knowledge gained by the student. Every student is naturally interested in knowing for himself, the extent of mastery he has gained over the subject of study. The teacher is interested in knowing the result of his teaching and how effective he was. The principal and the management of the educational institution are interested in assessing the work of the teachers. The Government which may be providing the grants would like to know how effectively the money was utilized. The evaluation of the students by means of appropriate quizzes, assignments, tests and terminal examination provides the necessary inputs to the Government, the management, the teacher and the student. Thus, the examination or evaluation is not only for the student but also for all those connected with education.

In the present system of education, the student moves to another standard, class or institution when he completes a year of study. Therefore the evaluation of the student provides the necessary information, the strengths and weaknesses of the individual to the teacher of the class to which the student moves. This would mean that apart from providing a progress report of the performance of a student to the parents and the student himself, a continuous record has to be maintained about the student’s performance in curricular and extracurricular activities and made available to the institution and the teacher who will be receiving the student into their fold.

Concluding Remarks:
A good society will do everything in its command to impart education to all its members, as education brings with it prosperity and the prosperity of the society depends on the prosperity of every one of its members. Education for all is meaningful only if quality education is made accessible to all i.e., all schools will be of good quality and will be available within a reasonable distance of the residence of every one of the children. Quality implies relevance and appropriateness to the individual. Therefore, the educational programme must be relevant and allow study at a suitable time and pace. Towards achieving this, the school timing will be staggered and holidays will also depend upon local practices. Uniformity will be aimed not in content or hours of study but in quality. Thus, education for all encompasses the concepts of neighbourhood schools and common school system.

Quality of a school would depend upon not only the syllabi and textbooks but also depend upon every aspect of education including method of teaching, teacher competency, and number of teachers, infrastructural facilities and evaluation procedures. In order to maintain quality every one of these components will have to be of the required standards.

To achieve good education for all, each school will have to be assessed individually and its standards raised to the desired level. Excellence is the goal. Uniformly high quality will be achieved by providing necessary grants as well as opportunities to innovate and experiment by the individual school. The education system will be allowed to function autonomously in order to attain the desired standards.

Let us hope and pray that the people of this country desire for good quality education for all and make it a reality.



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