Goa needs to make a lot of improvements in education
THOUGH Goa has the image of a progressive and development-oriented state, the latest rankings by the Union education ministry show the state is among the lowest-ranked states and Union territories in the domains of ‘learning outcomes and quality’ as well as ‘governance processes’ in the educational sector. The ministry report has come as a shock. The rankings as per the Performance Grading Index (PGI) developed by the ministry were released earlier this week for the academic year 2019-20. The report has placed Goa in the bracket of between 751 points and 800 points, along with Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Sikkim and Telangana, with the maximum score standing at 1,000 points. The latest ranking should send the alarm bells ringing for the state government that never misses an opportunity in claiming that Goa was a well-performing state in all spheres of life including education.
The observation in the report is that Goa has remained ‘stable’ in the educational sector during the academic year 2019-20, which means there was neither any improvement nor any decline in the performance in the school educational sector. The PGI score of states and UTs in the middle range improved by less than 40 points from the academic year 2018-19 to 2019-20 but Goa, with a score of 783 points, got just one point more than what it had during the period. The states were assessed by the Union education ministry on 70 parameters for the quality of their school education, where Goa has been placed in ‘Grade II’. The assessment done by the ministry is that Goa could have performed better to move from the middle grade to the top grade. It suggests that Goa had the opportunity to do so but could not. Though the state government may claim that education has improved in the state, the fact is it has been lacking in key parameters, largely due to administrative incompetence or instability.
Educationists are of the view that the state government has been slothful and negligent in taking measures that would make education more dynamic. Lack of initiatives in this regard has led to stagnation and downgrading of education in Goa. Ever since the present regime led by Pramod Sawant took over after the demise of Manohar Parrikar, it has changed director of education four times. The government appointed Nagaraj Honnekeri, Vandana Rao, Santosh Amonkar and D R Bhagat as director of education between March 2019 and June 2021. On an average each director got just over six months in office which educationists believe is too short a period to the head of a department to work with future in view and bring about basic changes. In a short tenure they get to do routine things. Even if a director wanted to pursue a new objective the person could not do it. No wonder Goa fell short of the optimal line in the parameters considered by the Union education ministry for the ranking for the academic year 2019-20. The government must resist political temptation to appoint someone as director of education who only works to fulfill the wishes of the minister. The director should work for the cause of education. Frequent changes of head show that improvement in education was not a priority for the state government.
Goa’s schools are lagging behind. Hardly a few students make the grade in competitive examinations. Schools have not been able to do anything substantial to improve education. The Goan schools have been unsuccessful in handling the framework of continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) mode, wherein the onus of performance and fair judgment falls on the students and schools, respectively. With the implementation of no-detention policy up to Class VIII, the CCE mode has become an important aspect of school education. Let us hope that the state government learns from the Union education ministry’s latest report and focuses on removing the shortcomings and improving education. It is the state government’s responsibility to make school education robust so that students are able to get a solid foothold to chalk out their future. A roadmap must be drawn for improvement in the education sector at all levels and implemented with sincerity.