IMPROVEMENT OF QUALITY EDUCATION IN PUNJAB SCHOOLS
Prof. Gurbax Singh Shergill Former Principal Khalsa Colleges Amritsar and Chairman P.S. E.B
It is a well-known fact that majority of Punjab students are unable to compete for admissions in the selected higher courses which could enable them better options for their careers. Even the high IQ students are unable to come up to the desired standards due to the lack of the quality of teaching and learning, especially in the government, schools in the absence of guidance and motivation programs for students and lack of proper accountability of the teachers. No wonder that there is little response by them to all India competitive examinations for admissions to higher professional courses in top level institutes like IIT, IIM and top medical and engineering colleges. Results of all India talent competition held by the NCERT, PMET, CAT and even state level tests clearly show the negligible share of rural students who are about 65% of the total student’s population. Most of the students after passing the Matriculation examination are even unable to pass the police recruitment tests. Before we try to understand the present situation of school education in Punjab it is necessary to understand the background of school education in Punjab.
The Quality Education Foundation conducted a survey for standard of government school in Punjab in 1995. Teachers in high and senior secondary schools complain that the standards of primary education are very low and the students from govt. primary schools are unable to follow the syllabus when they join the 6th class. The Foundation took initiative to conducted a sample study through on the spot tests in primary schools and found that the standard of teaching was very low on account of automatic promotion up to 5th class coupled with the carelessly conducted 5th class examination by the SCERT. Survey of Middle and High schools showed that their level of teaching was in no way better. It was found that the standard of teaching and learning process has been continuously falling for a long period of all most two decades, ever since the imposition of Emergency and its after effects. The separation of Directorates and lack of any in built accountability in the system was the main cause of this calamity. Large scale use of unfair means, unchecked absenteeism of the teachers due to politicalization of the teaching staff and rampant corruption and favoritism in appointments. This gave a general feeling that when appointments can be got with ‘money’ or ‘sifarish’ why not a matric certificate or a degree.
After a thorough discussion in Experts Panel, the quality education foundation in collaboration with the Kendry Sikh Vidyak board launched a pilot project for merit promotion in selected primary, secondary and senior secondary schools in district Roopnagar in 1995, based on the modified version of NCERT concept of continuous cumulative evaluation record (CCER). The main emphasis was on Self Improvement Quotient (SIQ) of the students and merit promotion Quotient of the whole class (CIQ) for the teachers. The CIQ is determined after adding up all SIQs divided by number of students.
The students with higher SIQ were identified from 6th, 8th and 10th classes. A system of differential teaching and homework was introduced so that each student may be able to achieve his/her possible level of excellence. The foundation was assisting these schools for standardization of class tests with the guidance of experts. Continuous Cumulative academic record (CCAR) of these tests was being kept in specially designed registers provided by foundation to all the participating schools. Cash awards and certificates were given to the 3 top students in 8th, 10th and 12th classes with highest SIQ. These cash awards and certificates were given every year in special morning assembly of the school.
One day guidance and motivation camps were held for identified students with the help of DEOs. Three one day camps were held at Anandpur, Fatehgarh and Charan-kawal Banga (Nawanshahar). Food and tea were served by the local Gurudwaras. The students in these camps were addressed by eminent Doctors, Engineers and Army Generals who volunteered their services. One hour general awareness objective test (GAT) was also conducted and the result was declared the same afternoon with the help of pre solved question paper, before evening tea and dispersal.
The functioning of the above project was being monitored by the expert’s panel of the quality education foundation on the basis of their field visits and half yearly reports. The expert’s panel finalized their recommendations which were submitted to the education minister on 18th June 1998 at the Punjab Bhawan in a round table meeting called by the Education minister on the advice of chief minister. This meeting was attended by all the DPIs, CEOs and the principal education secretary.
Special scholastic achievement test (SAT) in December 1998 was also given to selected outstanding students in every adopted school. These students were given cash awards in proportion to their higher SIQ at a central function held at Satluj Public School at Roopnagar presided over by the Education minister S. Tota Singh on 17th July 1999. Two outstanding principals and teachers were also honored with high appreciation recognition awards. A follow-up study of all these award winners was very encouraging as many of them qualified for medical and engineering admission and for army commission.
As desired by the Education Minister a meeting was held in the office of education secretary to explain the results of merit promotion projects launched by the foundation. The cumulative academic record registers of various adopted schools were also shown. The Education Secretary issued an official letter f;Zfynk gzikp vkJoh BzL 244-50-N, fwshL 19/08/1999 to DPIs, CEOs and DEOs to adopt merit promotion project in all schools along with the new register for keeping academic promotion record by every teacher. A follow up seminar cum workshop of principals, DPIs, DEOs and block officer was held for creating better understanding of the merit promotion project at Khalsa Senior Secondary School Kharar presided over the special secretary education.
Soon after the above circular letter, a good start was made in adopting the merit promotion scheme all over Punjab in selected schools. Later on, this new scheme became the target of proverbial lethargy due to change of the administrative setup and Government.
The level of teaching/learning process in government schools continued to fall for almost a decade. Large number posts of subject teachers, principals and headmasters of schools remained vacant. 90% of the schools had only officiating Principals and Headmasters for more than ten years .Powers of the Heads of the schools went in disuse along with their accountability. It was surprising to note that BSc 3rd class teachers with M.A. in Arts subjects were working as science lecturers at the senior secondary level. In some cases the rural government schools with no science teachers or laboratories for senior secondary, sent hundreds of students to appear in +2 sciences by fake admissions of regular students, who were studying in some city schools. This was the method used by city students for qualifying to get the benefit of reserved rural seats in some Engineering and -Medical colleges the intervening period of two decades was academically a stagnant period. The huge backlog of semi-literate unemployable youth with drug addiction in the rural areas is the product of th