Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How do we improve the quality of education?

The teachers have been flogged at for too long for not ensuring the quality of education. They have been at the receiving end all along.

Yes, the parent felt that they were not doing a good job. The education ministry or the school department also felt that they were not doing anything good. Of course, it has often said, rather in a derogatory tone, that if you don’t find a job the best option is teaching.

In some way or the other, the nobility of the profession has been degraded with all these debates. And we have lost our sense of respect for the teachers. What is it that has really lead to it is one big question that needs an answer from the ministry that dispenses education and is responsible for a so-called literate society.

In the past, and in all our culture there was always this theory about the transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the pupil. In the Hindu tradition, there was this guru-chela parampara and in Buddhism too, we had the similar tradition. Every teacher passed it down to the next group or the students.

That was the time when writing materials were expensive and not readily available. Every thing had to be transmitted orally, with practical examples. Perhaps, it would do us good to know how Marpa the translator taught Milarepa, one of our great Karguep leaders.

For a sorcerer, it was not easy, according to Buddhist tradition, to attain that level where he can be ordained and be worthy of receiving the teaching. That’s what the master said. At this point in time we don’t want to dispute what the great masters said and their way of teaching.

They did it for what they thought was good for the posterity and for ensuring transmission of knowledge to the future. And they chose their pupils (chelas) accordingly. If they didn’t qualify for the lessons that they were supposed to receive, they were not accepted.

At the time of Socrates, or for that matter, the great Hindu sages or Buddhist lamas who dwelt in the Himalayas teaching the values of religion, we had no formal schools. Everything was oral. It came from the masters to the students.

In Bhutan we follow the same tradition. We still have a great respect for the teachers. Or we had.

When education went on what one may call mass production that is when we went into problem. There is nothing wrong in the concept itself. When every one is educated, the world as a whole is educated. That is good for the world.

But somewhere along the line about this great concept of educating the world, something went wrong.

For one thing, we never gave enough importance to teachers, particularly at the lower level. They slogged at remote places without enough incentives and they were not provided with the right trainings or opportunities to improve their skills.

So, demotivation set in. In some schools, even books failed to arrive in time, forget about the news of change in the curriculum. It was reported that some principals didn’t even realise that there was a change in the curriculum. This is what is called information gap.

Another thing is we have always treated our teachers in an ungenerous manner. More often than not, principals and vice principals have been nominated for workshops and trainings and the workers in a remote school is always neglected.

If teachers are not given the opportunity to upgrade themselves, then we should not complain about the quality.

Some one has to do something about it.

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