School System Fails Students

School System Fails Students
  • Considering Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s caution regarding the insecurity that people face over a lifetime due to the deprivation of basic education, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 calls for a hard look at the situation.
  • ASER’s  findings amount to a distressing catalogue of the failures inherent in the pedagogic methods of instruction in vogue.
  • The foremost among them is the overemphasis on a curriculum that is geared to outcomes in the form of examination results
  • This is at the expense of a process of learning that is oriented to a mastery of concepts.
  • These shortcomings underlie the original assumption that students of a particular grade would not measure up to commensurate standards and that any such evaluation would hence be an exercise in futility.
  • That is the apparent rationale behind the ASER assessment of actual student performance based on a lower set of metrics.
  • The report points out that just a small proportion of third-graders are able to read even a text from a lower grade, let alone their own.
  • Further the report says any improvement in later years is at best marginal.
  • The fact is that reading skills are not imparted as part of classroom activity.
  • ASER also shows that pupils from the higher classes are unable to perform even simple tasks of division or subtraction.
  • This may have to do with the inadequate reinforcement of concepts over the years owing to the structure of the syllabus:- for instance, the use of logarithms that were once taught from Class 9 has been dropped from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum.
  • Students are hence denied the opportunity to learn complex mathematical computations.
  • The mathematics knowledge that people need in daily life is mostly arithmetic-based yet, the latter has been omitted from the Class 9 and 10 syllabus.
  • Time was when students could opt between a basic and advanced level of math from Class 8 or 9 under some State boards.
  • The current CBSE paper, tailored to the requirement of engineering aspirants, may be imposing an undue burden on students inclined to pursue different academic streams.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act stipulates a 30:1 ratio.
  • ASER notes that the country has come consistently close to universal enrolment in the 6-14 age group for six consecutive years that may have afforded some consolation in an age where the prevailing wisdom held that poor families are disinclined to send children to school.
  • In today’s competitive environment, the ability of students to read, write, count and measure is a bare minimum, hence the country cannot continue to fail its children.