Quality or Quantity Education
As the popular saying goes ‘Quantity is not synonymous to Quality’; and it is especially true in regard to education in the country which has a long way to go despite government initiatives like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which was launched in 2001 to address the issue of school infrastructure, teacher quality and training, and filling vacancies.
The Prime Minister of India has himself admitted in a recently held programme stating that ‘it is time to lay more stress on the quality of education, rather than on its quantity’; and only a few days back, the department of Education (S) of Manipur decided to enforce a ‘No School Bag day’ on all working Saturdays for students of standards 1 to 8 for government, government-aided, and private schools. The decision was taken after considering the long term physical and mental effects of carrying heavy school bags everyday by the young students which has been proven by a 2016 study carried out by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India under its Healthcare committee which estimated 68 percent of pre-teen Indian school children might suffer from mild back pain, that can lead to chronic back pains, and later into hunchbacks. The survey, according to The New Indian Express, also noted that over 88 percent of children, in the age group of 7-13, carry more than 45 percent of their weight on their backs. And it may be mentioned here that the study was carried out amongst more than 2500 children and 1000 parents in major cities and the findings included startling facts such as most students mandatorily carry over 20 textbooks and exercise copies daily, together with sports kits and other equipment on certain days. Hence, the initiative of the department of Education (S) is in fact a welcome decision by most parents and guardians considering the physical aspects.
However, the issues may be easily solved through development of infrastructures such as installation of lockers not to mention spacious classrooms with requisite furniture, boards, electrical fittings like lights and fans, clean and hygienic toilets, accessible drinking water, activity and play areas, laboratories with requisite instruments and equipment along with computers for students to learn and experiment with.
But the main question that remains is the quality of education as the findings of the Annual Status of Education Report of 2017 show that the number of students completing elementary school has increased over the years; however, they lack foundational skills. So it is a key measure that teachers ensure that students get the requisite lessons that keep their minds ignited for seeking knowledge since students’ likes and dislikes for attending classes, or interests in a particular subject, can be linked to their teacher and his or her quality of teaching.
The challenge of improving quality of teaching by training teachers and supporting them with modern teaching aids, tools and methodologies such as smart classrooms and digital course content need to be taken up, so that teachers take pride in their jobs, which might also address the problem of school kids having to carry heavily loaded bags. And that is exactly what we need in context to the Education system in the State and country for which teachers will have to play the most vital role because if the teacher is not affectionate and sympathetic to students, their intelligence and character cannot be developed. No man can be a good teacher unless he has feelings of affection towards his pupils and a genuine desire to impart to them what he himself believes to be of value. Teachers who have genuine sympathy and welfare-consciousness for students can only adopt appropriate methods of teaching.
But what is more worrying is the nature of education or the curriculum in the country; and with nearly a quarter of India’s population being in the age of attending school and college, whether our demographic situation is an asset for our country or not depends on the quality of their learning. Here, emphasis must be given on enlargement of the mind and heart; although one of the glaring defects of the existing system of education in India is the rather large emphasis on the acquisition of job oriented skills along with the special emphasis on narrow, perverted and virulent nationalism. This is one of the most dangerous aspects of the educational curriculum in the country as it does not inculcate a spirit-of international peace and amity; and without this, human civilisation cannot be saved.
Bertrand Russell noted the aims of education are not static and absolute since they differ from country to country as these are determined by the objective conditions of each country or community; but “Welfare of students should be the ultimate aim of education and they should not be used for any other purpose; and only through education, conscious and superior types of individuals can be created.” Education is a process of self-development, but self-development is possible only in and through society. Individual development is not possible without social progress and vice versa. All around development of an educated individual depends on character formation; and hence, character formation should be the avowed aim of education not noxious nationalism.
Nationalism is undoubtedly the most dangerous vice of our time which is far more dangerous than alcoholism, drug addiction or commercial dishonesty; and unless the noxious sense of nationalism can be abated, civilisation cannot continue.
Leader Writer: Danny Haobam
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