It is a matter of concern that the governments continue to fail our schoolchildren. For, when the children perform poorly in exams, it is more due to fault lines in the education ecosystem that we have given them than any lack of ability in the students. Barely had the euphoria over the excellent results of Class X Punjab School Education Board exams earlier this month settled than now comes a downer: only 32 per cent of the government school students have qualified for admission to the 10 meritorious schools in the state. This poor show is shocking because the cream — students scoring 70 per cent or more — takes this test. It is this lot that had pushed the results of government schools in Punjab northwards and, in a first, even bettered the private schools in the Class X PSEB exams. The state government provides infrastructure and education free of cost to students of these boarding schools. So, what has gone wrong? The learning crisis in government schools once more underscores a vacuum in quality teaching. A major reason for even meritorious children floundering in entrance tests to prestigious courses is that board exams focus on maximising marks with the rote-and-recall-based structure rather than with understanding and application.
In Chandigarh, the failure of government schools, despite having adequate staff and spacious buildings, to provide well-rounded education to children is driving parents to expensive private schools. Sadly, they even trust unrecognised schools running from shops, rented houses and rooms lacking in proper ventilation, what to say about playgrounds and toilets. The UT is finally out to caution the public by naming and shaming such unauthorised teaching shops after the Chandigarh Tribune exposé a couple of days ago.
Sound primary education is fundamental not only to the growth and future of a child but also of the nation. At the core of this sector is a competent teacher. The governments would do well to invest money in identifying, training and ensuring that conscientious teacher-recruits become nation-builders.