Students’ Recommendations

While expressing a poor level of satisfaction with the quality of school education, students also gave voice to important suggestions:



Reduction of the syllabus: 30% of the students who expressed themselves (notably as regards ways to make examinations less stressful) asked for the syllabus to be reduced. Their view may be summarized by one student’s comment: “Large quantity but little quality.” Cutting down the size of the syllabus is the first step to be taken if room is to be made for quality. Unfortunately, in recent years, the overall national trend has rather been the opposite, adding ceaselessly to the number and size of topics to be learned.




A less mechanical pedagogy: 17% of the students who expressed themselves on this aspect felt that examinations test only their memory. Many complained in strong terms about a pedagogy which, they felt, brought no stimulation to thinking.




A practical-oriented pedagogy: A related and better expressed voice consistently asks for a more practical, less bookish or theoretical orientation or a playway method of teaching (each by 16% of those who made a suggestion), also for more sports (7%). A detailed study on such demands concluded that 65% of all students made them in one form or another. (The demand was stronger in higher classes and in government schools.) Some students complained that their education is unrelated to their life and environment. Among specific suggestions, we may mention innovative methods of teaching making use of audiovisual material and computers, more sports and physical activities, visits to places, industries, Nature spots, etc.




Quality of the teacher: Although this did not appear in the statistics, many students commented on the poor level of qualification of their teachers (some also complained about corporal punishment, clearly a widespread evil). Many wanted the teacher not to mechanically repeat the textbook, but to provide explanations based on practical examples. Even more than qualification, students asked for human qualities such as patience, understanding, cheerfulness, etc.




Book load: Well over half of the students came up with sensible suggestions on how to reduce the highly excessive load of textbooks they have to carry to school. The first suggestion is of course that books should remain at school. Others include a demand for a less “bookish”, and for computerized education.




Mother tongue: Many students were in favour of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction, even 40% of English-medium students, who do not seem able to follow the teaching in English (and often complain about the teachers’ poor level of knowledge of English). Since English-medium schools are unlikely to go, the solution clearly lies in excellence: excellence in teaching in the mother-tongue medium as well in English medium. A vast improvement in the quality of teachers seems to be the key here as elsewhere.




Examinations: A significant proportion of students (24% in all) suggest either doing away with exams altogether, replacing them with daily evaluation, or making them more flexible in terms of subjects and timing. Many students wanted exams to test the child’s real talent and understanding, including practicals — not merely his or her capacity to “mug up” the textbook. This seems to be the root of all other changes one would like to envisage in the educational system.



Our educationists and policy makers would do well to pay heed to such sensible and practicable ideas.

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