Education Reform refers to the goal of changing public education. The motivations for reform usually come from the current needs of society to ensure modern educational standards and social returns in citizens health wealth and well-being. We need to reform, revolutionize and modernize education system in order to produce moderate global citizens and to build a strong workforce for our society.
Since taking over the reins of UT administration, Honorable LG Manoj Sinha has taken a keen interest in the education sector and has already created a task force in the form of education reform committees at different levels of the hierarchy. The education department has also seen a dynamic and dedicated Principal secretary Mr.B K Singh who is willing to work hard in streamlining the things to produce better results. In Kashmir division Mr. Singh has been ably supported by a visionary Director school Education Kashmir Dr Tassaduq Hussain Mir, Dr Tassaduq has generated a lot of goodwill for his kind approach and professional dealings with the stakeholders. As part of the reformation many steps like introduction of Kindergarten in govt primary schools and detachment of teachers from various non teaching assignments have already been taken and some are going to follow in the due course of time which is quite appreciable but many educationists and experts have their point of view which could make the process of reformation more beneficial and result oriented. Some of the steps that can be considered for the implementation include:
Teachers Transfer Policy
The transfer policy for J&K teachers needs a comprehensive review, it was stated by the government that transfer of teaching personnel shall be made in the beginning of the academic year only but we are already in May and the Teachers are still waiting for the ATD. Some experts firmly believe that instead of ATD at the highest level the job of transfers should have been assigned to the chief Education officers and the Zonal Education Officers with clear cut guidelines from the higher authorities. Ideally a teachers transfer should take place after every three years and must be in the interest of the students only. since the government has done away with the academic arrangements in the higher secondary schools and over the last three years teachers with subject specific qualifications have been deployed to such higher secondaries where there is a need. ATD being an automatic system won't cater such requirements and also in case of female teachers ATD has many shortcomings.
Some govt schools especially in cities and towns have lesser enrollment and would need fewer teachers but ATD won't be able to address the issue of People Teacher Ratio. There are already education reform committees at District and zonal level and for the smooth conduct of the process they could have efficiently helped the officers in the transfer of teachers. It is also important to highlight the fact that CEOs and ZEOs are in a much better position to know the staff position, Enrollment and even the competence of teachers in their jurisdictions.
Rationalization of teachers
In order to promote a better PTR (People Teacher Ratio) in the schools the department has been carrying out the process of Rationalization for some time now but it has not served the purpose because it is being done at the Zonal level only where one subject specific teacher from one school is deployed to another or a higher secondary school without considering the PTR. It is very important to highlight that there is a low PTR in cities and towns as most of the Educational institutions in urban areas have lower enrollment but higher number of teachers which defeats the purpose of Rationalization. A better Rationalization would have been to deploy the teachers from the cities and towns to nearby rural educational zones where poor students are enrolled. it has been observed that the government schools in urban education zones have more teachers than required and the nearby rural education zones even at a distance of two or three kilometers have huge enrollment but lesser teachers. The schools at various administrative headquarters have usually more teachers than required. This discrimination needs immediate attention.
The teachers whether transferred or deployed to hard areas should be given special incentives while as the female teachers should be given certain concessions during the annual transfers. As already mentioned govt instead of appointing candidates for academic arrangements in higher secondary schools where there are vacancies has preferred the deployment of higher qualified teachers to fill the gaps, it is not a bad move but such subject specific teachers should be given some weightage during promotions for their contribution.
All professions offer their recruits the opportunity of pursuing a career, in the sense that individuals can be promoted through a clearly delineated promotions hierarchy. Promotion is the passage to a higher rank and is one of the reinforcers of the rewards system to help motivating employees. From a motivation perspective, if rewards are allocated only on non performance factors like seniority, job title etc employees are likely to reduce their efforts. On the other hand in a hierarchy using promotion solely as a reward for good performance people tend to enhance their performance, in fact 'pay for performance 'programmes are gaining more popularity but we in J&K continue with less motivational promtionary policy of employees especially the teachers which is one of the reasons of declining performance of government teachers.
There are so many other departments which offer promotions to their employees through departmental examinations, why no such opportunities for teachers who deserve to be rewarded, recognized and motivated on the basis of their performance. There is no rational logic behind promoting an employee or a teacher merely on time bound basis. Many a times teachers are promoted as lecturers or masters when they are at the verge of the retirement or have lost their interest in assuming a new role. It would be really beneficial even for the students and the department itself if after 5 or 6 years service in the school education department a teacher is given an opportunity to appear in a departmental examination to enable himself to become a master or a lecturer. It would always keep a teacher motivated and up for the challenge.
Special attention to kindergarten
Over the last decade government schools in J&K faced a huge issue of declining enrollment in the schools but since last two years the school education department has been able to enroll a good number of students and for which the due credit goes to the Principal secretary and the DSEK but there is an apprehension if these new entrants could be retained. To address this issue the integration of anganwadi Centres with the nearby primary or upper primary schools should be done without any further delay.
Curriculum and text books
A carefully designed and well-executed curriculum plays a significant role in the success of a school and its students and teachers. Strong curricular design, when delivered by well-prepared and qualified educators, ensures that the students can achieve the appropriate learning outcomes. In J&K schools the curriculum needs a revision while as the text books are not upto the mark. The text books at primary and upper primary level are outdated, boring and devoid of any attraction.
Assessment and Evaluation
The assessment of the students: The intent of assessment is to measure effectiveness; evaluation adds a value component to the process. A teacher may assess a student to ascertain how well the individual successfully met the learning targets but there are various faults in the process which needs to be addressed. Also the teachers with better outcomes need to be awarded and appreciated. The teachers with poor results are punished but surprisingly the officers are not held accountable, it is important that the officers are also ranked by their performance and held accountable.
In-service training or staff development and skill enhancement programme for teacher’s plays an essential role in successful education reform. It also serves as a bridge between prospective and experienced educators to meet the new challenges of guiding students towards higher standards of learning and self development. In developing the professionalism status of teachers, the training program such as in-service training should not be run away from the reformation that occurs. In-service training offers are one of the most promising roads to the improvement of instruction. As such the SCERT and DIETS should be made more vibrant and goal oriented. Unfortunately our B.Ed Programme is the most outdated and obsolete one, it needs immediate revamp to cater the modern educational standards of the Educators and Teachers.
Further government should introduce special monthly scholarship schemes for BPL students, provide smart gadgets to such students and try to provide a better infrastructure for better results. Teachers acquiring higher education should be encouraged and facilitated as it would ultimately benefit the students and the community as well.
(The Author is a Freelance writer and columnist and can be reached at Rayeesrocks20@gmail.com)