Many believe that educational standards have fallen and are falling. There is therefore the urge to do something about education. The decoration of senior secondary schooling was targeted for change by some and it became a major issue when government changed the duration from three competent years after a highly competent committee it had set up had recommended no change after detailed study.
Naturally, the rival party made three-year senior secondary schooling an issue in its manifesto. Now that it has won the election, it is entitled to maintain the status quo. I howev-er suggested that the new government should try to obtain a clear national consensus before any change.
The obvious reason being that we cannot subject the system to change every four or eight years.
Opening the debate however has resulted in some confusion. Even those who should know better about the reasons for the refrains which ushered in the junior and senior secondary schools are making strange arguments.
The fall in standards of education is not primarily due to the duration of schooling or to the name senior secondary school instead of senior high school. I am aware that when a problem is complicated and appears to defy solution human beings get frustrated and irritated and suggest and do things which have little bearing on the problem.
One need not be a professor of education to realise that a class of 20 will get more from the teacher than a class of 80. If you keep the class of 80 in school for four years, the students are most unlikely to learn what the class of 20 will learn. It is not primarily a matter of the num-ber of years spent in the senior high school and senior secondary school but class size, avail-ability of textbooks and supplementary books, thoughtful syllabus, domination of examinations, special attention to students with social and psychological problems among others which should receive our attention.
I was amused when a learned group suggested that more games would be played if the secondary school duration was four years. Have we the football fields in the schools, the hockey sticks, the cricket bats and nets, the basket ball and-net-ball arenas and so on?
We should be serious, we should face facts.
Government spends a lot of money on education. Yet the facilities on the ground are not adequate. Even teachers employed do not get their salary. They have to work for months before receiving their first salary.
The way discussions are going, the government Should implement its manifesto which the people can be said to have accepted and go on to a more serious and fundamental analysis of our educational aims and purposes. The universities had to change or modify things to accommodate the three years senior secondary school. We should not saddle them with a reverse exercise. Rather, we should change them to come with ideas and short and long term solutions to our problems.
So far as duration of schooling is concerned, I would suggest the reduction of compulsory basic education to five years. The aim should be to make every boy or girl literate enough to read the newspapers and institutional brochures. I have the available resources in mind. We should use the little resources to satisfy our basic needs and do more when the economy expands.
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