ByÂ Achilles Rasquinha:
Myth 1: A change in teacher-student ratio will increase quality education
Right to Education Act (RTE) aims for an ideal pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1 for primary level and 35:1 for upper-primary level. But, the current ratio of 49:1 for primary level and 59:1 for upper-primary level statistically shames us and remains a severe problem in Uttar Pradesh schools. The ratio in Chandigarh reaches to a whooping 80:1.
Interestingly, studies show no correlation between teacher-student ratio and quality education. Also, teaching is not regarded as a preferred career option. So, a simple way of generate interest in teaching is to raise the income of teachers to create meaningful economic opportunities.
To improve learning inputs for qualitative education, here are a few cost-efficient strategies:
Increasing teacher’s incentives:
This remains a government versus teacher propaganda. Consider a system that equates a teacher’s pay to his or her student’s attendance. The method remains fair to both the parties as teachers individually attempt to address each pupil and understand their ability. There isn’t a necessary track-down over individual teaching skills as it remains evident in pupil’s attendance.
Teaching according to a child’s ability:
Grouping students according to their ability and not by class or age have experimentally proven that a student’s learning improves impressively. This implementation needs patience, understanding and tolerance.
Volunteering for educational programs:
Volunteering during non-teaching hours for educational initiatives like field trips, research on curriculum been taught and summer camps are pure sources of effective increase in quality education. Recognition over participation and volunteerism is in abundance within local societies.
Myth 2: Physical structure increases quality education
Recent statistics provided by the Voice of People, an organisation working on RTE which conducted a survey on 255 schools covering 18 districts, shows that:
– only 9 per cent of the upper primary schools have proper furniture
– merely 8 per cent schools have a separate room for library
– more than 50 per cent of the schools have no proper usable toilets. 9 per cent have no toilet facilities.
– 38 per cent of schools have no boundary fencing while 9 per cent of them have damaged boundary walls.
Many other shocking statistical data denotes poor physical infrastructure of the common patshaala in India. But an improvement in such physical structure too has shown no correlation to the betterment of education output. Here is one strategic method with regard to improvement in physical structure which surely increases not only quality education but is also an efficient way to manage physical infrastructure.
The minimum required classroom area is about 300 square feet but in case of smaller classrooms which still exist in India, here is a technical formula:
PTR (Pupil Tutor Ratio) = (Area of the classroom in square feet-60/8)
This also highlights the futile emphasis on decreasing the PTR, and proves a relative relation between the size of a classroom and PTR. Such an initiative has been adapted by the Gujarat RTE and has done wonders. Technical methods such as these which attack the crucial core of the problem and not the external physical significance are cost-efficient as well as very simple to implement.
Myth 3: How about implementing some more initiatives?
The Midday Meal Scheme is currently implemented in almost 85.6 per cent schools but the scheme remains one of the most corrupt malpractices in India. A simple solution is that the quality of food under the MDM scheme must be checked on the spot and a detailed report regarding the lack of content must be submitted at the earliest.
The MDM scheme is an impressive initiative to widen the educational structure and surely has significant benefits in acting as a ‘supplementary nutrition’ for children. However, another problem within this scheme is that, most of the school activities exist before lunch time. So, MDM may not really feature itself to be ‘nutrition’ for learning students.
– Provide beneficial nutrition in the morning before students engage in their school activities for the day.
IIT Madras on monitoring this scheme has provided a notable quote, “one fruit and one glass of milk for every child every day.”
Implementations of initiatives aren’t necessary, but improvising the existing ones using low-cost and effective methodology will provide a better path towards quality education. Being one of the largest providers for elementary education, RTE fails to deliver quality education. Once the improvements are made, we can move ahead and implement extra-curriculum, ‘going beyond the usual textbook’ debate, vocational training and guidance.
Education is the stem that reaches every part of the nation’s output, be it societal changes or economic growth. As the saying goes, Padega India, tabhi toh badega India!