As long as the system of education and its assessment allows, producing toppers of secondary and higher secondary examinations is generally considered as accpetable and prestigious. Producing toppers and students securing of high marks is the primary objective of every managment of the private schools in Manipur to keep up their business.
However, it is not possible to fit all the schools as positon holders in the limited lists of toppers of High School Leaving Ceritificate (HSLC) Examination of Board of Secondary Education, Manipur and Higher Secondary Examination (HSE) of Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur.
Therefore, there is a keen competition whether healthy or unhealthy amongst the top notch private schools in Manipur to hold positions in the said examinations, as the public perception of a good school is the one which makes the cut in the top rankings. And such schools try to produce position holders by using all kinds of means available and best known to them to keep up their business, as most parents rush to such schools for admission of their children. The schools also admit the toppers and students who secured high marks by offering scholarships/freebies to ensure their students perofrm best in the next examination.
Unfortunately, the parents are not aware that the kind of education their children learn from such schools which primarily focuss on scoring of high marks doesn’t develop all round personality to be competent in this global world, and doesn’t train the skills needed to compete in this techologically advanced world where rote learnng fails.
Here, it is pertinent to ask what school edcation is about and what are the roles of a government?
Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development. Providing universal access to quality education is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership on the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation.
The global education development agenda reflected in the Goal 4 of Sustainabe Development Goals (SDG4) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by India in 2015 – seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.
Accordingly to achieve such a lofty goal, National Education Policy 2020 has been made to be able to support and foster learning, so that all of the critical targets and goals of United Nations Sustainabe Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Moreover, education is a basic human right that works to raise men and women out of poverty, level inequalities and ensure sustainable development. But worldwide 258 million children and youth are still out of school for social, economic and cultural reasons. Education is one of the most powerful tools in lifting excluded children and adults out of poverty and is a stepping stone to other fundamental human rights. It is the most sustainable investment. The right to quality education is already firmly rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international legal instruments, the majority of which are the result of the work of UNESCO and the United Nations.
In the simplest way, education is not about learning facts and also not about what to think but more so about how to think.
However, practically we have observed how bright, curious, and creative students change almost instantly once they enter secondary school. They lose their zest for life and learning, and become like programmed automatons focusing on the single task of taking exams and tests efficiently. This is because schools, teachers and parents, all seem to scheme at making their lives completely centred on the two public examinations that are held in classes 10 and 12 before they leave school. The worth of a student is mostly measured in terms of examination results so too the worth of a school.
Therefore the second half of a student’s school life is currently mainly devoted to securing good results which mean high marks. Consequently, these ‘wonder years’, when they should be learning joyfully and exploring the world with uninhibited curiosity and sense of adventure, are drearily spent preparing for exams. The nature of each examination is such, that students have to learn vast amounts of data, and stock questions have to be answered in set ways.
During the present day secondary school years, students’ creativity and thirst for learning beyond the syllabus are also deprived. The learning time for other students who are not examination candidates is also affected since a large part of the teaching faculty is otherwise busy, having been assigned to help in carrying out this routine exercise. Moreover, every year the much-acclaimed marks that students score in the high school and higher secondary board examinations makes some right thinking people to ponder the credibility of the assessment system.
On the other, elementary education as part of school education provides students with a basic understanding of various basic subjects as well as, the skills they will use throughout their lives. It fosters learning process and focus on strategies, which assist students in developing their creative and critical thinking which the New Education Policy 2020 includes in order to encourage logical decision-making and innovation.
We know that in India, primary education forms a part of elementary education or compulsory education from ages 1 to 14 years. It is mandatory for all the children to enroll in this stage of education as per law; the government of India also recognised the fact that primary education is the foundation for entire super structure of Indian nation.
The objectives of primary schools today and in the future necessitate children to be critically literate so that they can fuse information, make informed decisions, and communicate capably to prosper in an ever-changing world.
In this age of globalization and technological advancement, we need to prepare our children to thrive in future. Our schools should build competencies for 21st century. The basic aims of primary education are to identify his life as an individual; citizen education as one of the main aims of all round education; full and harmonious development of children; promotion of spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of students and in school and society; to prepare students for the opportunities responsibilities and experiences of the adult life; emphasize, in addition to the acquisition of basic skills to literacy, arithmetic and reading; there are other skills that are necessary live happily and usefully both as children and as adults.
More importantly, secondary education occupies a very strategic position in the educational pattern of the country. It is the link between primary education and higher education. Primary education is intended to provide minimum requirements for survival where as secondary education enables an individual to become a full member of the complex society.
School education has a structural change under the New Education Policy 2020. Besides introducing the 3-year pre-schooling for every child, the NEP 2020 also focuses on skill building from very early stages. As per individual skills and interests, the students will be provided with options of choosing vocational courses from Class 6 itself. Further, the students will also be allowed to do internships as part of the vocational programme. This will also help students excel in their areas of interest.
Another radical change is the flexibility of choosing subjects at Higher Secondary level. As per the New Education Policy 2020, there will not be any rigidity of selecting streams like Science, Arts or Commerce. Now, students will be able to choose a set of subjects that they are interested in. The policy says this will help nurture their interest and also lead to developing critical thinking among school students.
Thus, the focus will be to help students in learning ‘how to think’ instead of ‘what to think’. The NEP 2020 also aims at a 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in school education by the year 2030.
However, statements like there is overall increase in pass percentage of government school students besides subject toppers and that the government is planning to start special coaching with the objective of producing toppers are very unfortunate.
If the State Education Department is going to function like private schools to produce toppers in the name of improving government schools, the future of Manipur looks disastrous. The Government’s role is to provide all round equity development of all the schools to educate all children of the State. Manipur Government’s planning to start special coaching for government schools with the objective of producing toppers itself is against the objectives of the National Education Policy 2020.
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics