As we all gather here, we are now aware of the dismal state of the education in the rural Punjab today. The pass percentages cannot get lower. But given the country where mass scale cheating is a practice, invigilators overlook parchis, sums are solved on the blackboard, proxy is a possibility, paper leakages are common, someone, somewhere deserves to be accredited for letting such results be declared, as this indicates a fair conducting of the examinations. On the other hand, courtesy the above-mentioned factors, not everybody carrying a Matric certificate have actually cleared their exams. Many do not even know the spellings of the subjects they are supposed to have cleared. So, we shall not go by the results alone, if our aim is a truly educated youth.
I wish to bring some very general points to notice, which, if possible, may be looked at while drafting the blueprint for bringing about the required reform in education. These may not be directly relevant, but do deserve attention, I feel, in the interest of the child, our future.
Given the Scene
Given the highly competitive world in which we live today, we have to strive to be one of the best. And that, whatever the field may be, can only be achieved through concerted, concentrated efforts started early in life.
Our decisions must relate to the realities on the ground. Punjab is an agrarian state, and its people robust. As such, agriculture and sports are the two fields, which deserve our maximum input. As for the former, i.e., agriculture, we have the case of Denmark and New Zealand before us, which industrialized primarily by commercializing and mechanizing agriculture. Today, their products are the most prized all over the world. We must expose the students to what is happening in the world, using the visual media. The teaching should not be limited to the syllabus. Additional, interesting information, outside their syllabi, which students do not have to memorize for exams (say, at least once or twice a week), will generate an interest in them for knowledge. Let studies not come in the way of education.
And for the latter, i.e., sports, since the people are robust, the basic requirement is the infrastructure. An affluent person(s) desiring to serve could adopt a school, and finance the required infrastructure, and the performance of children in various games at city, and then state level will form the progress report. For excellence in sports, we have to catch them very, very young. And opportunity must reach every child.
Could do Without
The standard of some subjects, especially Math, is too high, given the varied abilities of different students. So, just as the Open Schools offer choice to students so that Math as well as Science is not compulsory, the regular schools too should introduce this system to enable more and more students to take pride in having completed Matric. As it is, all those who would be going in for vocational courses/training could do without Trigonometry or some Algebraic equations.
Study at Ease
School uniform should not mean all suited, booted, and neck-tied. If at all there is a games period, children are made to play matches in leather shoes. Apart from the fact that a necktie symbolizes the Christian cross, the summer in Punjab is too hot for this item. Childhood is a period marked with vibrancy, jubilancy, and so on. Let the uniforms not mar this spirit. Lets make the children comfortable in T-shirts, sports shoes, etc.
School timings are such that the children, throughout their growing years, go without breakfast, eat cold paranthas for brunch, and have late lunch. Leave alone sportspersons, we cannot even expect healthy individuals with such lifestyle. One balanced meal must be provided in school. Lets take langar to the schools, where it is needed most. Without health, all the education will have gone waste.
Every child, as per the adult franchise, becomes a voter at the age of 18 and, hence, participates in nation building. Basic information about factors that affect the future of our nation (its environment, policies, etc.) must be imparted. This information, too, could remain outside the syllabus. I am sure children will show interest in facts, which are not a part of their syllabus. Our best achievement would be to create an urge for knowledge in them.