Showkat Ahmad Wani
There are always comparisons between the performance of government schools and that of private schools. Most of the times, government schools are declared as failures and the teachers of government schools are derided and disparaged. No one can deny that private schools show better results in various board examinations and the pass percentage of private institutions remains more than eighty percent while as our government schools report about sixty percent. The contribution of private institutions to the education sector is commendable and praiseworthy, but at the same time government schools cannot be ignored and disregarded, irrespective of the shortcomings prevailing in the system. Let us try to understand why our government schools are not able to keep pace with the private schools.
Government schools serve children of a lesser God, mostly coming from families which are economically downtrodden and lack an educational background. Government school students often help their families in domestic chores and even students of secondary classes are forced to miss a number of school days. Sending their children regularly to schools is not the priority of the parents and they never bother to ensure that their child opens school books at home. In comparison, majority of the students of private schools come from affluent families with good education. Their child is never supposed to help the family in domestic chores or to earn an income. Parents ensure that their child regularly and punctually attends school. At home, the parents take a keen interest in the child’s education. This concern of the parents makes a huge difference.
In government schools, most students are lacking necessary stationary items as their parents seldom are concerned about the same or in many cases cannot afford them. Parents of private school students ensure that theirchild is always in possession of everything that is required. A government institution has to admit every Tom, Dick and Harry and cannot deny admission to any one, nor can it fix a written test/ viva voice test as criteria for admission. Government schools cannot deny admission to even those students who may have left regular schooling for years together for some reason. Contrary to this, private schools admit students strictly through tests (written /viva) and at many places parents are also made to sit in the examination to see if they have a suitable educational background and sound financial health. Private schools always ensure that they admit the best talent, which reflects in their results and performance.
From the infrastructural viewpoint, private schools have well-furnished classrooms, smart classrooms, seating arrangements, laboratories, toilets, drinking water, playgrounds, sports equipment, recreational facilities, all of which act as a motivational factor for the student to participate in all the activities of the school. This helps a lot in the overall development of the child.
There are also sufficient teachers in a private school with good pupil-teacher ratio. A teacher has to teach only 5-6 classes and gets time for attending to the children individually. In government schools, at the primary level, we have maximum of three classrooms and two or three teachers for teaching all five classes. Each teacher has to teach 12-14 classes in five hours and attending children individually is impossible for him or her. The attraction and motivation of a child towards school activities diminishes every passing day because of lack of furnished class rooms, playgrounds, sports equipment, and recreational facilities at his school. Same is the case with upper primary government schools where we have five classrooms for eight classes and four to five teachers where every teacher has to teach 10-12 classes daily.
Posts of Zonal Education Officers, Principals, and Headmasters at various places remain vacant for unknown reasons and are not filled for years together, which badly affects the functioning of the schools and tells upon their performance. Parents of students of private schools in most cases arrange private tuition for their wards but our government school students do not get that privilege. A government teacher also has to prove his or her worth as manager of mid day meals, Polling Officer/ Presiding officer during elections, and as enumerator/ supervisor during a census. The Board authorities also trust the teacher for examination and evaluation duty, and government teachers these days are also at the forefront for educating the common masses about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Being public servants, teachers accept these assignments as essential and important, but while managing these obligations a good number of days are lost which otherwise a may have been utilised for teaching or learning. The private school teacher does not have to perform these types of duties and can devote all the time to teaching activities.
If one looks at the syllabus for primary classes, it is such that many times a teacher is himself unable to understand what he has to teach. Since we have no official Nursery and KG classes in government schools, our students are directly admitted to Class 1, and are given such books that are beyond their comprehension. On the other hand, the Nursery, LKG, UKG classes in private schools enable children to easily understand the Class 1 syllabus. The authorities concerned need to reframe the syllabus in such a way that it serves the purpose.
In spite of all these lacunae in the system, there are many government schools which are performing well. We can cite the examples of schools like Ranbir Higher Secondary School Jammu, HSS Kothibagh, SP HSS Srinagar, most of the district Higher Secondary Schools, and a number of others where there is sufficient staff and required infrastructure. Of late, students of government schools are grabbing top places in board results. Such achievements make it amply clear that government schools can also compete with private institutions but they have to be provided with adequate staff and requisite infrastructure, reframed syllabus, and resolution to the problems that have been aforementioned.
Every time a government teacher cannot be hanged for a crime he or she has not committed. The administration and the society need to understand that in spite of innumerable lacunae in the system, coming out with about 60% results in board exams is an achievement to be appreciated and ridiculing/ mocking the government teachers is not the solution. There may be scope of improvement on part of government teachers, there may be teachers who shrink from work, there may be teachers who don’t deserve to be called teachers, but generalising the whole community is not fair. The solution to the problems in the system is not in their hands but in the higher levels of administration. However, the government teachers also need not harp on excuses and should try to do the best within the available resources, so that they regain the confidence and trust of parents and society. If we pull up our socks, the day is not far when parents will feel the future of their wards safe with us. We will admit students in our schools with pride and our teachers will regain the lost respect of society.
The writer is a Lecturer in Political Science at HSS DH Pora, Kulgam. [email protected]