Primary Education: A foundation of academic elevation

Published at May 06, 2017 12:34 AM 0Comment(s)10668views

A committee needs to be constituted which shall exclusively study the entire system of primary education 

Primary Education: A foundation of academic elevation

Reyaz Ahmad Mir

Imparting education in formal school system must be focused to make it productive and to transform it into a well established institution of knowledge economy.

To this, the top priority of the focused approach warrants to be essentially put in place at primary stage so that the 'software programmes' in-build in human brains are decoded at appropriate time to lay a solid foundation for intellectual development. 

It is actually the lower level in the system which odiously suffers from complicated snags responsible for the absence or lack of academic excellence in the government schools. The dogma that mega structures can be erected on weak and fragile foundations is only fool's foolishness and the manifestation of engineering inefficiency.

How can the secondary or higher secondary levels produce fair output when there is no strong and integrated educational foundation at the bottom of the whole process?

The schooling at primary or elementary level is gruesomely and equally victimised at the hands of the system, the faculty and the society.

The disinterested and truant teachers amidst scanty approach of the system coupled with the ignorant parents have virtually put it in shambles, which is a known phenomenon to all.

Unless the root cause for the systemic rot at primary stage is taken on, the resources and efforts being invested at higher levels shall not be expected to yield miraculously.

The institutions being taken to task for dismal results at secondary stage is essential but a holistic mechanism of accountability must be evolved from lower levels too. This needs to be evaluated as a unit involving all levels, not in an isolation, to make all teachers and officers equally and collectively engaged and accountable.

The primary educational area demands a massive intervention at policy level to infuse a new spirit into the system with special teacher education including teacher training programme, infrastructural build up and innovation in contents and curriculum.

General consensus exists for the assertion that primary teachers significantly need knowledge of their subject that is, different sorts of knowledge, such as subject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for their professional development.

The current trend of imparting training to primary teachers by the District Institutes of Educational Trainings (DIET) is of no or very minimal benefit. This is a formality without full-time teacher trainers who are scientifically trained or for that matter exposed to the highly modernised teacher training institutions outside the state.

There is another problem which is seldom visible, but potentially debilitating that plagues primary classrooms. This may be at the root of why children are not learning. If we observe the typical fifth standard classroom, for example, we can perfectly understand the challenge for the teachers.

In our schools, the fifth standard teachers use the fifth standard textbook, trying to cover the material and activities that the textbook lays out. But whom should they teach? And how should they do it? Should they focus on those children who have basic skills or who are more likely to attend school regularly, and, are, therefore, easier to teach?

What should they do with other half of the students in class who are not even at standard one or two level? Or, who are not attended at home at all. This is a problem faced by almost all primary school teachers. What this “low learning trap” does to children must be the priority concern.

Sadly, it appears as if educated citizens and civil societies, education experts and researchers, and planners and policymakers have not seen this problem for decades together.

However, it is now being expected by the incumbent Head of the Department to ponder over and subsequently evolve a focussed framework for revamping the system at primary level.

I hope that he would potentially utilise his treasure of knowledge which he has got as a genuine scholar and author of dozens of books and research papers, apart from possessing a huge experience in civil administration.

Education has also been his area of research work and projects. And, he himself has served as a successful and very popular teacher at Kashmir University before turning to the administration. I believe he would strengthen the foundation of education to make his contribution truly historical.

Coming back to the issue of primary education where it is traditionally forced to focus on completing the curriculum and is failed to make an organised institutional structure to provide extra help to children who are not moving ahead at the expected pace or to those who are falling behind.

Without the learning support that is critical, a large fraction of innocent and poor children slip through the cracks. The problem is made worse by textbooks and curriculum whose pace and content accelerates through the primary school years.

Some time ago, some schools at higher level have been declared as ‘Model Institutions’ which is indeed an appreciable step but neglecting primary sector in this endeavour is again a legacy of earlier weak educational policy and approach.

If we can't ensure to go like Germany, Finland or New Zealand to revolutionise the elementary education, what makes it a herculean task for authorities to declare at least one primary school as model institution in each education zone? I don't think that the state's excuse of limited resources would come in a way to thwart the idea.

Equipped with all modern academic and sports facilities, specially trained teachers and the relevant content framework, the primary model school institutions would surely demonstrate the potentiality of government run institutions and emit a huge amount of inspiration for teachers and parents and would provide a lead to the authorities in strengthening the academic development in primary sector as a whole.

Broadly speaking about the improvement of primary schooling, the focused approach with independent area of operation is a must. To ensure the effective teaching and standard of education under close monitoring and strict observation, a separate directorate of primary education department is essentially to be established with separate officers at district and zonal levels.

And, apart from imparting teacher training, providing infrastructure and affecting change in contents, practical introduction of feeding classes like Pre-Nursery, Nursery, LKG and UKG with uniform syllabus and mandatory prescribed study material is one of the vital pre-requisites to ensure a standardised change in primary schools.

The Department of Social Welfare is imparting the pre-school education in its ICDS centres is only a theoretical reality. Still relying upon Social Welfare for preparatory schooling even after the clear manifestation of its failure on ground is suicidal.

The casual classes with no uniformity, in contrast to the private institutions, of pre-primary schooling shall not do in the contemporary pragmatic society.

More pathetically, the books from the very first standard in government schools pose a tough challenge for students and teachers as well. The learners are handicapped before the books which need a minimum three years pre-primary schooling to develop the capacity comprehension.

Neither can they read them not can they write to the level of the books taught. They are just listing the translation. Beyond this, the teacher fails to teach the students as being guaranteed in the principles of genuine teaching pedagogy.

They are plainly promoted to the next standard year after year without achieving the corresponding level of the learning. The weakness is subsequently manifested in the upper primary and secondary classes leading to a huge number of drop outs.

This strongly suggests that the feeding classes are significant in the contemporary competitive educational scenario without compromising the standard of the reading material.

Understanding the issue in its totality for ensuring the practicable and better primary schooling, I suggest, a Commission/Committee needs to be constituted comprising of distinguished educationists, resourceful academics, senior child psychologists and reputed administrators which shall exclusively study the entire system of primary education and put forth concrete and comprehensive recommendations to translate it into a vibrant institution for better educational foundation leading to the excellent academic structure ahead.



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