Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Narrowing down Gaps

The performance of government school students is deteriorating over the years despite the huge resources and government support those schools receive in comparison to private schools that are solely run and managed by individual investors. The government has invested a lot in government schools, the donor countries pour millions of dollars to support them and the teachers are also provided with more facilities. On the other hand, private schools are purely run by students' fees. The teachers get lesser facilities and they do not have job security either. So, it seems that students' performance in government schools must be better than those students in private schools, but the scenario is always reverse.

A recent research study funded by Danida has shown that the overall national average pass percentage in the SLC examination of government schools is about 30 percent while that of private ones is 70.

The sole success of a private school depends upon its quality that it can offer. The most important fact is that a private school cannot survive with its bad reputation, so the success is gauged by its academic performance.

The ownership factor is an essential part behind prospering private schools. The school management committee pays immediate attention if any problem arises. This will be a concern of all the investors to find out its solution. The responsibilities are shared and clearly defined among the concerned people. Parents have a huge investment to educate their children. So, if they are not satisfied with their children's performance they will promptly demand for its clarification. Teachers must also be dedicated, dutiful and honest towards their profession. If they cannot satisfy the school management committee, parents or students in terms of their competency, they get terminated from the job any time.

In contrast, in government schools, nobody is ready to take responsibilities in the matter of quality improvement. Despite job security and other benefits teachers are reluctant to participate actively in teaching activities. The situation is just like rajako kam kahile jala gham. The permanent teachers are not compelled to abide by the head teacher's leadership. They are sure that nobody can snatch their job. They believe whether they work or not it is their right to hold it. However, there are some good teachers who really want to do something to improve teaching learning situation but they cannot get favourable working environment. If they try anything, other jealous teachers immediately start to throw a satire, "Keep on doing this. You are going to get some gold medals, aren't you?" So, to fit in the crowd of their co-workers the enthusiastic teachers have to strangle their enthusiasm and follow the same line.

This all is happening in government schools due to the lack of effective follow up mechanism. It does not matter if teachers teach or stay outside chatting or knitting sweaters. Even though there is a provision of school supervisors they rarely visit schools to observe how teachers are teaching. Surprisingly, most of the teachers do not know who their supervisor is. Even if some supervisor goes to the assigned school by any chance s/he does not bother to enter the classroom. Parents are also not concerned enough about the school affairs.

Realizing the deteriorating teaching learning situation of government schools, a concept of community schools has emerged recently. It is assumed that if a school management is transferred to a particular community the community will take care of that school and it will be responsible to improve the academic status. However, the performance of community schools is not found as satisfactory as expected. Some education experts analyze that it is the lack of clear government policies that hinder a growth of community schools.

There should not be such a vast performance difference between students of government and private schools. The government schools' teachers themselves do not trust their teaching so they send their children to private schools. This may mean that they accept that they teach worse than their counterparts from private schools. It however does not mean that they are less competent. Instead they do not use their potentials to the fullest.

To improve the teaching learning situation of government schools, the government must take some steps strongly. First of all, there must be reward and punishment system. The teachers who work hard must be rewarded and those who cheat must be punished. For this also, there must be some regular and transparent evaluation and monitoring system; that is, the system must not be based on someone's personal judgment. School supervisors must visit the assigned schools regularly, supervise teachers, provide immediate and constructive feedback and help them solve their problems, if any. Head teachers should be authorized to lead teachers so that some systems could be developed to run schools smoothly.

There must be some sort of fear and motivation among teachers which insist them to work honestly and wholeheartedly. If teachers are committed and sincere the performance level of students will certainly increase. Then without any doubt students of both types of schools - government and private - stand at the same performance level.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, July 16, 2004)     


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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).