Ways to improvWays to improve Government Schools in J&Ke Government Schools in J&K

Javaid Ahmad Dar
Education is the best and long term investment. Hard work brings achievements only when coupled with efficient and appropriate study techniques and proper strategy. Our curriculum and syllabus teaches us what to study but lesser focus on how to study. Students, parents and teachers all of us have to keep learning new ideas and secrets about world class education system and what is lacking in ours. Policy of Jammu and Kashmir government to impart education according to Right to Education Act is that a child should get a primary school, upper primary school, high school and higher secondary school with in 1km, 3kms, 5kms, and 7kms radii respectively. Beside this free uniform, free text books up to 8th standard, free meals, and a number of scholarships are provided to the children studying in these schools, still government run schools are lagging behind in terms of enrolment and pass percentage as compared to private schools in Jammu and Kashmir a reason to ponder upon. The irony is that even the government teachers hesitate to admit their wards in Government schools.
Parents’ perspective:-
Every parent dreams of better future of his/her ward and leaves no stone unturned in weaving and achieving the same, money least matters for a parent. Although parents clearly visualize that some private schools have been turned into money minting machines, still admit their wards in private schools because of the presumption that their future is bleak in Government schools, this phobia has turned into a craze nowadays . The survey reports reveal that Government school kids are more competitive and social than those studying in private schools.
Work culture and accountability:-
Government teachers are highly qualified and remuneratively well paid but are least accountable to their bosses, and the chain leads up to top hierarchical post in the Union Territory. Private school teachers attend school by compulsion as their future is at the mercy of their bosses. Last year Government ordered biometric system of attendance but that too lasted for some months only, as biometric machines were not connected to higher authorities, but were institution specific and localized and at the submission of pay bills a print out was necessary ,but unfortunately in most cases that too was fabricated. Majority of the government teachers excel in coaching / tuition centres but not in government institutions where they work, the reasons are known to everyone. Biometric system of attendance should be made compulsory for student community as well.
Pupil teacher ratio:-
The New Education Policy 2020 recommends a pupil teacher ratio of under 30:1 but in our Union Territory only 43% schools are in accordance with that which means 57% of schools have disproportionate pupil teacher ratio and study reveals that 14:1 and 11:1 at secondary and middle level respectively. There is further disparity between districts and within the districts of union territory. Srinagar district has worst pupil teacher ratio of 5:1, in other districts of the Jammu and Kashmir union territory clear disparity exists in pupil teacher ratio between town and rural schools, so far rationalization of staff has remained a distant dream. In order to strengthen rural India particularly Jammu and Kashmir, and to deliver education at every doorstep it should have been according to New Education Policy.
My suggestions:-
In our union territory it should be made mandatory for ministers, bureaucrats and all Government employees to admit their children in Government schools. This action will change negative perception of Government schools among general masses. We have to make our schools and society inclusive and also adopt credit based system of promotions for the staff . Result, in other words, should not be an instrument of measurement of teacher’s performance /calibre. For those teachers availing leave like maternity leave, paternity leave, child care leave, medical leave etc. for more than 15 days a prior alternative should be kept in place to minimize loss in studies to student community. Academic calendar, examination reforms, transfer policy should be followed in letter and spirit and those persons overstaying at a particular place on flimsy grounds of health and security should be reviewed. The aim to transform Government schools must be started in every district picking up almost 2 to 3 schools in every education zone on priority basis and developed on modern lines, refurbishing entire school buildings, equipping them with modern infrastructure to improve the learning outcomes. Researchers believe that home work is outdated concept child should get 10 to 15 minutes break after every 45 minutes of pedagogy and 3 to 4 hour daily schooling is enough because a happy student is a good student.
It is better to provide kids opportunities to grow rather than to keep them busy e.g in teaching of mathematics children should work for one hour in school tuck shops/canteens and understand profit and loss, this is the way to teach math in real life and then make students apply in examination . Our focus should be on morals and ethics of children to make their foundation strong by placing real life dilemmas in front of children and observe how children react to that; this can also be done by story telling method. Provide vocational training to those children who are not interested in class room teaching. Last but not the least improve infra structure, replace outdated syllabus so that our Government schools can prove we are second to none.
Final word:-
Education sector is craving for Government attention for basic structure and planning, revamping elementary education which continues a liability where private sector takes the lead. The government of Jammu and Kashmir should take pragmatic landmark decisions to ensure quality, equality, accessibility, accountability and affordability in the system besides improving teaching and learning standards in schools. If Delhi Government can do it why can’t we……?.
(The author is Lecturer Botany at Government Higher Secondary School Pakhar Pora Budgam)