“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela.
Education is the backbone of any enlightened society. No society can dare to exist without providing quality education to its members. If we keenly analyse the overall condition of government schools in Jammu and Kashmir, it will give us a very gloomy picture. It is often said that the destiny of a nation is shaped in its classroom. But it is unfortunate that the educational excellence and achievement of the government schools in J&K is severely lacking.
The infrastructure of most of the schools lacks proper seating arrangement, teaching aids, drinking water and toilets. Besides this, students cannot get quality education due to certain reasons like student-teacher ratio. According to educational authorities, the teacher-student ratio should be 1:25, but in some schools, there are 6 teachers for 20 students whereas in others there are 3 teachers for 90 students. This shows the flawed education policy of the government. Most of the teachers who teach in the government schools in Jammu & Kashmir send their own wards to private schools. This clearly reflects the status of the government-run institutions. When teachers are unable to shape the careers of their own children, how can they shape the future of poor students who can’t afford admission in private institutions?
In government schools, administrations never force strict attendance neither for students nor for teachers and that creates the problem of students dropping out. Nowadays, private institutions in J&K attract large numbers of students who pass board exams with flying colour whereas students of the government schools learn English alphabets only in the fourth or fifth standard.
Educational authorities are equally responsible for this quandary as teachers who are called ‘educational and human engineers’ don’t get salaries for months which results in indefinite strikes, ultimately affecting the education of students. It is argued that if students would receive quality education in classrooms they will not go for tuition centres which have become a hub of money making where so-called ‘teachers’ provides them cheap notes and get their syllabus done. If the government is really concerned about improving the condition of the government schools then it needs radical change. The government should start a mass campaign about benefits of schemes in government-run institutions and teachers should be held accountable for the students they teach. In addition to this, the government should provide basic training to all newly recruited teachers so that pedagogical blunders can be avoided.
Modernisation demands an improvement in infrastructure and other basic facilities in government schools which could attract students towards government schools and prove fruitful in achieving educational excellence.
Zulafqar Ahmed is a doctoral fellow in the department of political science at Aligarh Muslim University. Email firstname.lastname@example.org