BANGALORE: Concerned over various academic studies painting a dismal picture of education in the state, the government has prepared a seven-point agenda to improve the quality of learning in schools this academic year.
Not surprisingly, English skills is a prime area of focus. The agenda directs government schools to conduct at least one discussion, short play, singing and other programmes in English. Teachers in schools have been specifically asked to fine-tune pedagogy in order to improve listening, speaking, reading and writing skills among children in Classes 1 to 5.
The focus is not only on English. Schools have been asked to improve language and mathematical skills -- two areas in which schoolchildren have recorded low performance according to the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).
In the new action plan for improving skills, teachers have been asked “not to assume that children join schools with the ability to speak.”
Children should be able to express their feelings effectively, teachers have been told. Besides coherent speech, children should be able to read with clarity and write effectively.
“There’s no denial that quality is the issue in school learning,” said Commissioner for Public Instruction, Mohammed Mohsin, who is a member of the newly-constituted Education Quality Monitoring Cell that has formulated the seven-point agenda.
According to ASER-2013, only 20.2 per cent and 35.3 per cent of children in Classes 1 to8 can read Class 1 and Class 2 textbooks, respectively. Further, only 28 per cent and 17.7 per cent can perform subtraction and division, respectively.
“We don’t want to simply point out mistakes. We have taken these steps with the hope that there will be improvement,” the Commissioner said.
The Department of Public Instruction has already added English as a subject to be evaluated from Class 1 from this academic year, he added.
Precise directions have been issued to schools to prepare day-to-day activities in advance, to chalk out teaching activities and distribute academic responsibilities at the school-level. Schools will also be responsible for creating a conducive academic atmosphere for children to learn.
While teachers are expected to play an active role in enrolment of out-of-school children, their own attendance in schools will be strictly monitored. “Unnecessary use of mobile phones is strictly restricted,” the directions state.
K Sameer Simha, a senior educationist, says teachers themselves need adequate training and improvement in subject knowledge.
“We are trying to help children improve in language and mathematical skills, but teachers are in dire need of these skills, they must be trained,” he said.
In a District Primary Education Programme survey conducted in Raichur, which Simha was part of, he said teachers there could not solve Class 4 math problems.
The Seven-point Agenda
■ School academic plan and attendance
■ Improvement of teaching-learning process
■ Ascertaining basic skills in languages and mathematics.
■ English learning
■ Ganitaandolana in Classes 4 and 5
■ Achievement of grade-level competencies
■ School-level monitoring and supervision