Enhancing Quality Of School Education
(The writer is based at Himmer, Hamirpur)
The state government has proposed to change the school uniform for students to look smart and started the process for same also. But there is an urgent need to improve the quality of school education which is the foundation of our future generations. As per a survey conducted by the NCERT, the students of Himachal Pradesh have a lot to make up in terms of performance in all subjects. In comparison to the national average of 252, Himachal Pradesh students have managed to score a paltry 229, 232, 230, 234, 239 in English, Math, Science, Social Science and in languages tests respectively conducted by NCERT under National Achievement Survey.
The test was conducted by the NCERT across 12 districts, 318 schools and among 11,817 students in state run government and government aided schools. However, the girls managed significantly higher than boys in Language test. Students at elementary level are below the national average in addition, subtraction, division, place value, measurement, geometry, money & data handling. Rural and urban students scored lower than the average. The SC/ ST students contributed maximum in the under performance group and they constitute more than 50% that need improvement. The NCERT survey found that the performance of the private schools are significantly higher than the government schools. Earlier RTE Act was facing frequent criticism for not promoting quality education in schools. So the central government in February 2017 amended the rules to include class wise, subject wise learning outcomes till Class X to improve the quality of school education. Spending on schools rose by about 80% in 2011-17. The literacy rate has risen from 52% in 1991 to 74.04% in 2011 and now estimated around 79% as per a survey conducted by an agency. However, the quality of schools education remains a scandal.
Frustrated by the government schools and keen for their children to learn good education especially English, parents have turned to private schools. The state government has been opening and upgrading more government schools, but the enrollment rate, especially in primary schools, continues to plunge. In primary classes, the number of enrollments came down from 5.89 lakh in 2003 to 3.23 lakh in 2015. Last year’s annual report of the education department had painted a grim picture of government schools. The data revealed that in all there are 14,33,260 students in the schools, out of which, 9,31,187 in 2014-15 (65%) are in government schools and over 5 lakh in private Schools. New report reveled that strength of students in 2017 session dipped to 8,89,642. Now the state government has proposed to change the four decade old school uniform with smart one, but this alone doesn’t change the mindset of the parents towards government schools. Till now state government has not proposed any new plan to improve the quality of school education, which is necessary.