Umpteen times there have been speculations as to why government-employed teachers send their children to study in private institutions. That is because a government school teacher knows best the educational environment in government schools, better than even higher officials who don’t know what he knows. He has a bird’s eye view of the whole system and ecosystem, though he is helpless to do anything to change the same. Some reasons why this is so are as follows:
1. Less teaching days: The academic calendar of government schools resumes from 1st November and culminates on 31st October next year. Though the academic calendar is the same for private schools as well, yet a government school teacher gets less number of teaching days. He has to first wait for results of the previous session and textbooks for the new one, for almost all of November month. No sooner does he begin teaching, winter vacations knock on the door. The teacher now meets the students in March. Private schools declare results in time and resume classes at the earliest.
2. Official burden: No doubt there is necessity of maintaining official records, but this exercise cannot be dragged on for months together. The primary official information that has to be recorded is MDM (midday meals), information of staff, building, roll, new enrolment, scholarships, etc. In private schools the same exercise is carried out by clerks or accountants. Besides, higher offices never store information permanently, hence take fresh statements every week, thereby adding to the burden of the government school teacher.
3. Textbooks and syllabi: Textbooks and syllabi are not up to the mark in government schools. The books are more activity-based and demonstrative in nature. Though activity-based methodology is good, how can a student come directly to activity when he does not know the theoretical part? The result of it is that while students understand the activity in their vernacular language, they cannot pen down the same in examination.
4. Teacher trainings: Though capacity building and knowledge updating is a good idea, mid-session trainings put the academic calendar on halt, and do more harm than good. The government needs to train teachers in winter vacations so that the teaching/learning process is not impeded. Such disturbance in the academic calendar is not found in private institutions.
5. Miscellaneous work: A government-employed teacher has to work in different capacities to run the government machinery. He has to act as BLO, PO, Census Officer, ZRP, RP, etc. Though these tasks do not require too many days, but when added to the gazetted holidays, the number of non-teaching days becomes huge. Here again, private teachers have it much easier.
6. Poor infrastructure: No doubt there is huge emphasis of the government on building infrastructure, but government school buildings in the majority of cases still have only three to four rooms. Combined classes are often held for different standards, which is not the case in private schools.
7. Enrolment drive and mushrooming growth of private schools: On the one side there is thrust on enrolment drive in government schools while on the other side there is clustering of private schools in the same habitation. The number of private schools has grown at a tremendous pace, that too within small areas, which has led to better pupil-teacher ratio and migration of primary students from government to private schools, as they acquire basic skills in government schools like reading and writing and then shift to private institutions. Here, the government needs to frame laws to give registration only to schools where there are no other schools in the catchment area.
8. Deployment of teachers: Majority of government school teachers are deployed from one school to another, creating hurdles in maintenance of daily teaching routine, that too in mid session. Here again, the teacher is helpless.
9. No provision of nursery classes: In government schools, nursery and KG classes are not officially recognised for textbooks and other facilities. Contrary to this, in private schools there is much focus on pre-primary stage, the result being that students’ basics are clear, which gives them a solid foundation. The majority of students are enrolled in Class 1 in government schools, to enhance the roll. The pre-primary stage is skipped, which has consequences in higher classes.
There are other problems as well, beyond the control of the government school teacher, who is reduced to helplessness and to being the parent of a child in a private institution. Unless and until the government rationally thinks about the work culture in government schools, and focuses on effective teaching/ learning process more practically, merely forcing government school teachers to enrol their wards in government schools will not solve the problem. Ensuring quality education in government schools is the key. For this purpose, teachers together with the administration have to work tirelessly till the light of quality education shines in the yards of government educational institutions.
The writer is a government school teacher with qualifications of MA English, MA Philosophy, BEd. [email protected]