Research Study-II on School Education*
A Summary Gurcharan Singh
It has been alleged by secondary school teachers in Punjab that children joining 6th class after having passed 5th standard exam by SCERT are deficient in basic mathematical concepts like fractions, decimal, area, average, percentage & interest, and also that they are unable to read & write simple Punjabi, their writing is bad & their general awareness & imagination are lacking. As a result, unable to cope up with studies in secondary schools, most students drop off and relapse into illiteracy. The remark by planning commission that 62% primary students failing to achieve permanent literacy is not without meaning & warning. The Primary teachers, on the other hand, claim that they have taught conscientiously & regularly and that exam have been conducted by SCERT and the results have been geniune. (100%)
The stand of primary teachers & block education officers look prima facie wrong. 100% success can be achieved only if students are wrongly pushed out as passed. The investigator took upon himself to collect facts & look into conflicting claims.
The objective of the study was to verify allegations levelled by secondary school teachers in the opening para above.
Patiala Block III consisting of 62 primary schools having 7143 children (3674 boys & 3469 girls) taught by 223 teachers (teacher pupil ration 1:32) were selected. In March, 2000 610 boys & 561 girls appeared in SCERT exam of 5th standard & all were declared passed.
These 1170 children joined 6th class in middle secondary or senior secondary school located in Block III, with no interviews conducted, just on results cards. The block is rural-cum-urban. Only two subjects, viz Maths & Punjabi were selected.
A sample of 384 students, 187 boys and 197 girls drawn from 3 rural area schools and 2 urban area schools were subjected to analysis.
All the 6th class students above were considered in the sample. The syllabi of Maths & Punjabi were studied item by item in a meeting of 12 primary teachers who had taught for more than 3 years.
A question paper of half an hour was prepared/approved by teachers for re-assessment of achievements of students who had joined 6th class. This was in Punjabi language.
The paper in Maths included questions involving:
1. Division of big numbers
2. Multiplication of decimals
3. Area calculation
4. Average concept
5. Percentage concept
6. Simple interest concept & calculation etc. etc.
Similar exercise in Punjabi was to test
i. ability to write correct Punjabi.
ii. ability to write letters in correct form legibly & beautifully.
iii. Ability to imagine situations.
iv. General awareness.
Paper set had max. marks 30, time 30 mts. The average score was ( combined boys & girls)
Maths = 2.9 Punjabi 5.1
No. of successful students :
a) Maths - Boys 9 (2%)
Girls 12 (4%)
b) Punjabi - Boys 44 (12%)
Girls 55 (14%)
The investigator literally wept at the total collapse of the system indicated by the results. Out of 378 boys & girls only 3 could correctly divide. 12012 by 6. Not a single Student could multiply 0.3 with 0.2. Children have no concept of area, nor could read a watch. They have no idea if a kilogram or gram.
The intriguing point was papers set by SCERT cannot be said to be easy. How could they have cleared SCERT exam which is more difficult than the paper set by the testing team, cannot be imagined except that the students have been helped by malpractices and pass percentage raised by grace marks. Still the teachers denied charges & DEOs were non-committal.
The evaluation done by the investigator was :
i. Language, expression & correctness 15 marks (50%)
ii. Formation of letters/handwriting 5 marks (16%)
iii. Awareness 5 marks (16%)
iv. Imagination, creatively 5 marks (16%)
The language skills are only slightly better than their mathematical skills. Pass percentage among boys is 12% & amongst girls 14%.
They are unable to write correct Punjabi & express themselves. Their spellings are horrible & sentence construction very poor. Their weakness is in spellings & use of ‘matras’. 85 to 90% have poor handwriting. This is because of lack of practice & lack of corrections.
In spite of maps of Punjab showing districts demarcated on the walls of every room, 95% had no concept of district or could name them. They were asked to imagine conversation between a doctor and a patient and write 3-4 lines. All they wrote was advantages of a doctor in society. They lacked imagination.
The charge leveled by secondary school teachers that children passing out of primary schools were deficient in mathematical skills stands proved doubtlessly and the boat has sunk completely.
Everything is not lost in Punjabi language skills. A low percentage 12% boys 14% girls, did pass, but their spellings are poor, handwriting is bad, awareness shallow & imagination is lacking.
The study is confined to one block of 115 blocks in the state. More studies are desirable. The fact remains that much is required to be done to reform Primary Education.