Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mass Promotions up to Standard VIII

Mass Promotions up to Standard VIII

By Tomazinho Cardozo

There is yet another furore in the educational circles these days. It appears that all of a sudden the Department of Education (DoE) has asked the school authorities to promote all students to higher classes up to Std VIII.
The press has reported about the circular of the DoE directing the school authorities to comply with its contents. Reactions of many educationists too have appeared in the press. The said circular has not been received by the schools as yet ie at the time of writing this article. The heads of educational institutions as well as teachers are furious because such a directive from DoE has come after the academic year was over. If such a circular has been issued in reality, I feel, the DoE has committed a blunder and hence the Circular needs to be withdrawn.
The academic year started in June 2010. As per the prevailing system every class from Std I to Std VIII has a certain syllabus according to which the teachers carry on the teaching-learning process. As per the prevailing system there are tests and examinations to evaluate the performance of the child in every class. Accordingly the school authorities have evaluated the performances of all the students after the final examination took place in the month of March 2011. The recently implemented grading system, which helps even the weaker students, progress to the higher classes, has been applied and the students are promoted to the higher classes or detained in the same class. The results were declared in the last week of April 2011. When the process of promotion has been done by strictly following the existing DoE approved norms then what right has the DoE to direct the school authorities to promote all students and that too after the declaration of the results?
I cannot understand the idea behind hurriedly implementing only one section ie Section 16 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act which states, "No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education." Is it educationally appropriate to implement only one section of RTE which fully depends on so many Sections of the same act? No! Some of the provisions of the Act which will make the implementation of Section 16 effective and meaningful is Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) and the strength of a class should not exceed 25 students. Is the strength of a class restricted to 25 students? Has CCE been implemented in the schools? The answer to these questions is in the negative. If so the DoE has no right whatsoever to direct the school authorities to promote all students up to Std.VIII. This amounts to mockery of our educational system.
The existing norms of admissions in schools in Goa allows up to 59 students in each class ie from Std V to Std VII and 63 students in each class from Std VIII to X. Accordingly the enrolment of students have been done by the managements of schools in June 2010 for the academic year 2010 – 2011. No CCE has been implemented. It is also not possible at all to implement CCE in a class of 60 students. Also are the teachers oriented to have CCE effectively? If the teachers are not trained properly there is bound to be an educational disaster in times to come. As far as my knowledge goes, no teachers are trained in CCE. Without doing any preparation how can we implement Section 16 of RTE and that too after the results are declared?
The Department of Education has not so far cleared the confusion of whether primary education ends at Std IV, as it stands today as per the prevailing system in Goa, or if it goes up to Std VIII, as proposed by the RTE. Until and unless this issue is solved, even the thought of implementing RTE is a crime. Has the Department of Education found out a solution to this very serious problem? Has this issue been discussed with the persons related to educational activities in Goa? Have the Heads of educational institutions and Parent Teachers Associations been taken into confidence to arrive at a certain solution? I am not aware of any such exercise being done by the DoE. I am also not aware if the DoE has a solution to this issue. Whatever may be the state of affairs, the circumstances demand that the issue needs to be debated and all stake holders must be taken into confidence before arriving at a solution. The issue is very serious because it directly affects the future of our children.
Under these circumstances the DoE has no right to impose their directives on school authorities. The RTE Act needs to be discussed minutely with people involved in education. It appears that the government has failed in implementing the RTE Act on time. It may also be under the pressure of the Centre to implement the same. This does not mean that the DoE can take decisions arbitrarily and impose them on school authorities. Hence it will be in the interest of education if the DoE withdraws the circular immediately.

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