Thursday, July 4, 2013

Getting into goal setting

The recent news in the daily newspaper is another eye opener for all those who are really concerned about the future of the country. Though we come across many such reports which are of concern to common people and also others but many of them affect all the citizens of the country and also the citizens of the globe. The most important of all the concerns is education to all and in that also quality education to all children. There have been reports published by NGOs where children of class VIII were not able to read Hindi or English text even of the level of class IV. The recent example which I mentioned above goes further and says that about fifty percent of the graduates are not employable at all. They are very poor at languages and in many other areas. I do not know how attention will be paid towards this and what steps will be taken to tackle this problem which seems to be a serious one. If we continue ignoring the things then this disease will become incurable and there will be no panacea for it. So this is a high time for all to stand and do something so that the quality of education is not only available to all in numerical terms but which transforms the life of the people for the better. Many people wonder about the goals and objectives of the education. The body responsible for the innovations and research in the field of education in India is National Council of Educational Research and Training, popularly known as NCERT. Many great educationists have been associated with this body and they contributed to the best of their ability to improve the quality of education. But the problem is that the common people of the country did not get the fruits of the hard work put in by them.
We also talk a lot about providing quality education but seldom come across the real meaning of such education. Should the meaning of education be narrowed down to employability only or it goes beyond that? As on today it appears as getting good marks/grades that would qualify one to get a decent job and thereafter live life comfortably. Before paying some attention to this let us try to understand the concept of quality education. Our former chairman of UGC writes in one of the books that a general definition of quality education to enable the input, processes, outcomes and contexts. By input he meant learners, teachers, community leaders facilities etc., by process he meant national policy, governance, curriculum development, teaching methodology and evaluation, by outcomes he meant academic standard, life skills, social skills, spiritual and secular values and by context  he referred to cultural, economic and ecological and leading from local to global. If we analyse it then it would be found that academic excellence is one of the factors of quality education but that is important without doubt. Along with this I think all should know the national goals of education also. I did try to know from many people (teachers and parents) about the same without much of success.  Then I realized that the condition of ‘national goals’ knowledge has become equivalent to that of our ‘constitution’. People may refer to our constitution but most of us know very little about it. We may  have thousand of books in our school library worth lacs of rupees but this collection rarely have the copy of the constitution of the country. When we do not encourage our children to know how to gain knowledge about the same then can we expect a transition ?  The Aims and Objective must be very clearly specified which should be known to all concerned including the parents and the children. Many commissions have been set up by the government of India to purpose the pattern of education in the country. Some of them were specifically for the secondary education and others catering to the entire education of a citizen of the nation. The first such commission probably was Radha Krishan Commission in the year 1948. The Commission observed a total  emphasis on the examination conducted by external agency and no weightage was given to internal assessment. The commission made a recommendation to give 30% weightage to internal exams. Then Mudaliar Commission was set up in the year 1952 and this also advocated for 20% weightage to be given to internal assessment. Then in 1956 a body known as All India Council for Secondary Education was established to implement the recommendations of the Mudaliar commission. This body recommended that 20% marks be reserved in subjects for internal assessment. Several boards immediately implemented this .The scheme started with good educational intention was to be dropped because of misuse by some selfish people. Thereafter Kothari commission was set up which gave its recommendations but did not show enthusiasm towards the internal assessment idea. However an idea emerged that a separate certificate can be issued to the students which would have the mention of co scholastic and extracurricular activities achievement of the children. This concept was further reinforced in the national educational policy 1986 in which there was a clear mention of continuous and comprehensive evaluation to be implemented in scholastic and co scholastic aspects.
What I have mentioned above talks particularly about the evaluation system and not really the goals of the Indian education. What I want all concerned to understand is that the goals of education system should be specified and made known to all. This should not be taught only to the teachers taking a degree course in education. Though national policy of education talks about different objectives in terms of education for women, education for SCs and STs, education for handicapped, education for OBCs, early childhood education and so on and so forth, but the basic goals of the national education are still to be framed and mentioned very clearly. The goals mentioned above can be the subdivision of the basic goals. One of great educationist mentioned somewhere with regard to India that the national goals could be mentioned as: promotion of the principles of democracy, respect for the individual, equal opportunity for all, respect for the constitution and the law, preserving the cultural heritage and promotion of divulge cultures, international cooperation and peace. In the context of above goals, we can write the aims of education. The most important aspect being ignored is the appropriate curriculum based on the requirement of the nation. The basic goals and the objectives might remain unchanged but the objectives should be reviewed periodically as per the need of time. The school and university education should be treated in tandem and in isolation. One important mention in NPE 86 is delinking of degrees from jobs, but I do not think any attention has been paid in that direction. The documents prepared by the government with the help of experts should not be for the purpose of records only but should be followed in the right spirit then only the efforts of those people might yield some results.
It is not that the country has made no progress in the field of education but a lot more could have been done if sincere efforts were made to involve more people in this. As I mentioned above also that the ones responsible for the implementation should be very clear about the approach of the government in regard to the education. There can be a common policy regarding the syllabus and examination for the entire country. Let the states be given some freedom to make a few changes, depending upon local requirement but the soul of the education system should be the same for the entire nation. Changes should not be sudden and on too short a notice which might create situation of chaos for many. I would seek help from all my friends who can guide me in knowing clear goals of our national education policy.