Government schools must take steps to attract more students
WITH the government-run high schools in Goa showing better performance at the secondary school certificate (SSC) and higher secondary school certificate (HSSC) examinations, the perception of parents of schoolgoing children vis-à-vis government schools is beginning to change. In the recently announced SSC results, many government-run schools did extremely well: 31 of them secured 100 per cent passing percentage. The performance of higher secondary schools has also been much better than in previous years. The state has 882 government-run schools, of which 9 are higher secondary schools and 78 secondary schools. There are also 42 middle schools and 753 primary schools run by government. Until a decade ago, the performance of students studying in government schools was highly unsatisfactory, with many of the schools scoring zero pass percentage, which compelled education authorities to step in to try and improve things. The efforts made by the authorities in turning the situation round are visible. If their campaign continues, the government schools could become as much preferred institutes of learning as private ones in the future.
Better performance by students at the SSC and HSSC examinations in the past several years is an indication that the teachers and managements of the schools have taken their jobs seriously and are delivering. Also, the infrastructure in many schools has been upgraded by the government with the help of the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) to be at par with that at government- aided or private schools. It is heartening to note that students in government-run schools, most of them coming from lower income families, have shown zeal in learning and complemented the efforts of their teachers, as is evident from better results. It is widely accepted that better infrastructure helps in teaching and learning process and the government efforts in upgrading infrastructure has apparently paid off. Till some years ago most parents shunned government schools because of their poor performance and preferred to get their children admitted to private schools. If improvements in government-run schools continue, more and more parents would send their children to them.
Though the performance of students at the SSC and HSSC examinations in government schools has brought cheers, education authorities are worried about the fall in number of students seeking admission to primary schools. Over the years dozens of primary schools have been closed down or integrated with neighbouring ones. Good showing of students at the SSC and HSSC exams coupled with better infrastructure is likely to help the government arrest the closure of primary schools, which serve as feeder to middle, secondary and higher secondary schools. The falling numbers of students in primary schools despite addition of facilities should worry the education officials. They should carry out a study to find out why parents were shying away from admitting their children to these schools. Is it because there were cases of only one or two teachers handling students from first standard to fourth standard? With parents eager to give their children best education it is for the government to ensure that the teacher-student ratio improves and so does quality of teaching.
The government must invest more in improving educational standards in government-run schools. Only formal degrees and training do not make ideal teachers. The quality of teaching is absolutely essential for enhancing attraction to government-run schools. Private schools score over government schools not just with their infrastructure but also with their quality of teaching. If the quality of teaching improves in government schools, even children from higher strata of society might join them. The process of upgrading the infrastructure and teaching-learning process should be continuous. The government should make all-round improvement in schools to attract more students. The government should redesign the B.Ed and D.Ed courses and enrich them with modules and training components that would develop the teaching quality, the language proficiency and the overall personality of the teachers.