Samacheer Kalvi Prof. S.Muthukumaran
Education enhances the inherent abilities of the individual and makes him a good useful citizen. The enhancement of the capacity to engage oneself in useful and purposeful work leads to increase in the earning capacity and therefore will tide him over in life in times of crisis.
The prosperity of a society is the sum total of prosperity of all the individuals comprising it. In a country where there are a number of highly educated and well qualified individuals, everything good will happen and all will be leading a happy and contented life. Therefore in the interest of the welfare of the society as a whole, it becomes the duty of the society to provide for education for all its members. The concept of education for all presupposes the availability of equally good quality education to every child. Identical syllabus, text books etc. by themselves do not provide quality education. Only if the syllabi, text books, facilities for teaching learning process including the quality and number of teachers, facilities for extracurricular activities and everything connected with learning are of a good quality and appropriate to the learner, it can be said that quality education is made available to every child.
Secondly education for all will be meaningful only if it is easily accessible. That is why it has been stipulated that the primary school should be available within a kilometer of the residence of every child. So also upper primary school is to be available within three kilometers, high school within five kilometers and higher secondary school within eight kilometers. As every school is required to be a good school, there will be no need for a parent to search for a good school for admitting his child. In other words the concept of education for all implies neighbourhood school system
Steps Taken in Tamil Nadu:
Over the course of years, Tamilnadu has formulated the following aims for providing quality education to all children for at least eight years:
- *Admitting in schools all children of school going age.
- *Retaining all children in school up to the eighth standard or at least up to fifth [standard
- *Providing access to primary education to all children
- *Giving approval for establishing kindergarten schools
- *Providing free nutritious meals
- *Providing free text books
- *Providing free uniforms
Parents who are unable to send their children to school due to poverty are helped to send their children to school by the provision of free text books, uniforms and nutritious meals. More recently the Government of India has also introduced a scheme for universalizing education known as Sarva Siksha Abiyan (SSA). This is a programme with a clear time frame for universal elementary education. It is in response to the demand for quality education for all children. It effectively involves the community and the local government. It also provides for the State to develop its own vision of elementary education.
The aim of this scheme may be broadly stated as follows: All children are to be enrolled in schools by 2003. All children are to complete five years of primary schooling by 2007. All children are to complete eight years of elementary schooling by 2010. Elementary education is to be of a satisfactory quality with an emphasis on education for life. Gender and social category gaps are to be filled by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010. As far as the detailed steps are concerned the State has freedom to formulate its own programmes.
The foregoing steps taken by the State in the previous years has considerably reduced the dropout rates up to the 8th standard from 32.54% during 1995-96 to 5.22% by 2005-06. In general, it is known that in any effort the last few steps are more difficult than others and hence, it may safely be stated that the achievements as on date are satisfactory. Further as punishing the parents is not the best way to bring the children to the school, the reasons for the dropping out by about 5% of the children may have to be identified and appropriate action taken to retain them as well.
Aims of Education:
The perceptions of the student, the parents, the teachers and the State in respect of the aims of education vary. But it is not likely that they contradict each other. The young one may be inquisitive and would like to learn anything that is new; may like to understand the family members, relatives, friends and the members of the society of which it is a member. But the aims may change as the child grows. The child may develop interest in certain areas of knowledge or certain arts, games etc. and may like to distinguish itself in that subject, art, sport or game. The child may have its own dream about its future. The parents may wish the child to grow and distinguish itself in a particular profession or vocation. Some parents, who have failed to achieve what they wished, may attempt to realize their dreams through their children. They may hope that their children may earn both fame and money. A teacher may attempt to teach what all he knows to the student. The Government may consider that the children may grow as good useful citizens.
In view of the foregoing, the aims of education may have to be stated briefly as follows:
- *To acquire necessary and sufficient abilities in the State language in order to communicate with other members of the society and to engage oneself in the day to day activities
- *To understand the culture and practices of one’s society, their relationship to the culture and practices of the nation and in turn the relation of the country’s culture and practices to the culture and practices of the world at large.
- *To acquire good concepts, ideas, conduct, character and the like and blossom into a good useful citizen.
- *To learn a vocation or profession in order to earn one’s livelihood.
Good School and Good Education System:
In a good education system, all schools will be good schools and each school will maintain the minimum required standards. As every school will be constantly monitoring its working and consciously upgrade its standards, there may not be any measurable differences in standards among the schools of the system. Such a system will not need regulation of its functioning from outside. It will be a self regulating system.
A good school will be admitting every young one in its locality, provide the little one with the appropriate education in a manner in which that child will learn and thereafter act according to what it learnt. Good syllabi, text books, appropriate teaching method, desired infrastructure facilities, fully trained teachers and everything connected with good teaching learning process make up a good school. It may be seen that a good school may arrange for an entrance test not for admission but to assess the present knowledge of the young one and provide the appropriate learning environment i.e. the test provides the necessary details to evolve the strategy for teaching the child. A good school will not only not refuse to admit a child but also will do everything in its power to retain the student for as long as it is in need of education i.e., it will not a declare a student has failed and will definitely not refuse to admit a qualified child to the next higher class
The present curriculum, method of teaching and evaluation are tuned towards training the students to locate the answers in the text for the questions given at the end of the lessons. Such an environment is not conducive to development of the children as good and useful citizens. This has to be remedied and the curriculum, teaching learning process and evaluation should be modified so that the young ones are helped to acquire knowledge and skills required by them to mould themselves in to useful citizens. The size of the syllabus should also be such that there will be no need to do home work or utmost it may be about 2 hours per week at the primary classes, which may go up to about 10 hours per week at the 10th level.
With the introduction of the new education system, the existing four school education boards i.e., State Board, Matriculation Board, Anglo Indian Board and the Oriental School Board, may be abolished and in their place an autonomous Tamil Nadu State Board of School Education may be constituted with a chairman, secretary and members. Its powers and functions in respect of school education will be similar to those of a University. It may be assisted by a number of subject boards and also boards for taking are of areas requiring special attention such as Oriental languages, interests of Anglo Indians.
The Government appears to lay considerable stress for making all citizens literate. But literacy alone may not be sufficient. It may even be dangerous. Since with the new found capacity to read and not knowing what to read, one may not only be lead astray but also may be persuaded to use the acquired information in a manner that is dangerous to the society. Therefore it is more important that the children are educated.
Indian Constitution enjoins the Government to provide free and compulsory education up to the 8th standard. This would mean that one who has undergone education for eight years will shape himself or herself into a good useful citizen i.e. the syllabi up to the 8th standard has to be such that one who has undergone successfully the eight years of education would have all the knowledge required to pursue a useful and worthy life. Therefore, the syllabus up to the 8th standard must cover all the necessary subject areas that may be useful in later life of every ordinary citizen.
Presently the syllabus is common for all students up to the end of the 10th standard i.e. up to the age of 16. It is known that all children do not have the same tastes, talents, aspirations etc. and the inherent individual differences clearly manifest themselves at the age of 10 or 11 i.e., by the time the children are in the 5th or 6th standard their needs vary from one another. The children at that age are curious to learn and are in the process of showing their preferences. If they are forced to learn something they do not like they naturally do not do well in those subjects. This does not mean they are lesser individuals but they are told by the school and the society that they are not up to the mark. This naturally has a psychological repercussion on these children. In order to save the children from such torture there has to be flexibility in the educational programme from the time a child joins the 5th or 6th standard. One option may be to start diversification at the middle school and another option may be the children may be exposed to uniform syllabus but may not be required to make the grade in all subjects but only in certain minimum number of subjects.
Subjects of Study in Schools:
It is generally accepted that the main subjects of study in schools will include languages, mathematics, sciences and social sciences. There has to be ample opportunity to learn useful arts like music, drawing, dancing etc. sports, games and several extra curricular activities. The first duty of a primary school teacher must be to teach well the mother tongue. The children while joining the school may be aware of a few hundred words in their mother tongue may be able to respond to others who speak to them, may be able to understand and express several emotions, understand the mood and tenor of the speaker etc. But they may come from diverse backgrounds and hence may know less or more number of words and may speak using colloquial words depending upon their environment at home and family background. It is the duty of the primary school teacher to make every child speak its mother tongue grammatically. Teaching of the State language if the mother tongue of the child is different from the State language will be the next most important duty. Teaching of any other language may have to wait until the child has acquired certain minimum competencies in the mother tongue and/or State language.
In respect of mathematics the school teacher must develop useful capabilities relating to numeracy, number operations, measurements, decimals, percentages etc. 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.
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. 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 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.
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. At the nursery level there should be only oral examination. At the primary school starting with oral tests, slowly written tests may be introduced. As the student progresses to higher standards, the tests may become more complex. At the 10th public examination, there has to be practical tests also.
Teacher Education and In Service Training Programme:
At present in Tamilnadu, there are quite a number of untrained teachers working generally in the unaided schools. All these untrained teachers must be given an opportunity to get trained. They must given priority in admission and they must also be given leave of absence for the period of study. The curriculum of the teacher training programmes requires updating to provide for the present needs of the schools. The number of seats in the training programmes for nursery school teachers must be substantially increased to provide sufficient seats to meet the present needs. All teachers must be given appropriate in service training at least once in three years. The services of the senior teachers may also be used as resource persons. In order to ensure that the class work does not suffer during the time the teachers go for training, there must be at least a sanction of 10 percent of posts towards training vacancy.
Inspection of Schools:
The Inspecting officers in the department of school education do not find time to properly inspect the schools in their jurisdiction mainly because they are overburdened with administrative work. There is an urgent need to have two officers in place of one in each education district. For every 30 schools there must be an inspection officer and an administrative officer. The inspecting officer must dote sufficient time in each school depending upon its size. After the completion of the inspection the officer must send a copy of his report to the school and get its replies to the comments. There must be training for the inspecting officers regarding the curriculum and administration. There must be wide publicity regarding the best practices through a monthly or quarterly news letter.
Manual and Code for the Education Department:
At present there is no manual as well as financial and accounts code for the department of school education. It is time the department prepares a manual which will contain all the important Government orders, procedures, powers and duties of the officers and other employees of the department. Important circulars of the department should also find a place in the manual and code. The Government should also take steps to prepare a comprehensive law for school education and get the law passed by the legislature.
At present there are two committees working in the villages known as village education committee, one established under the SSA scheme and another under Panchayat Act. There is an urgent need to merge these two and have only one village education committee which will have to function under the school education department. There is provision under the Panhayat Act for constituting a Panchayat union education committee. This committee must be constituted in every union and made to function effectively. Such committees must be in a position to effectively supervise the working of the schools in their jurisdiction and take also all much needed policy decisions.
Similarly, District level education committees should also be constituted as per law so that these will be able to coordinate the education activities at the district level The number of schools and students has grown and is likely to grow for some more time. There is therefore an urgent need to strengthen the administrativeve set up of the department. A separate wing should be set up to collect statistical data on the state of school education in the State
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.