by Dr Khurshid Ahmad Tariq
Despite numerous technological breakthroughs, immense research and innovations, education is still in transition and is the centre of debates worldwide. However, it differs greatly among developed and developing nations. The hallmarks of developed countries are their better education systems and dignified status of the teaching community. No doubt the money each nation spends on the education is a decisive factor of progress and prosperity, however, it is a fact that significant financial investments do not always result in the best academic returns. There are other factors as well. The culture and societal set up plays an important role in education and learning. The educational curriculum is only meaningful when it is student-centric and in this direction, teachers have a crucial role to play.
Education starts at an early age from home and that carries a lifetime impact on a person’s life. There are a deep-rooted connection and relationship between home environment and schooling. If we look deeply at the prevailing educational scenario either at lower or higher level in Kashmir valley, it sends the waves of disappointment across our lengths and breadths.
The present educational system of our valley is struggling on multiple fronts due to the prevalent socio-political turmoil since long. It may be in the form of untimely closure of educational institutions, compromised teaching, lack of innovative teaching, diminished ability to complete prescribed courses and syllabi within stipulated time, development of student-teacher conflicts, lack of moral education, development of disobedience among the student community, diminished ethics of teaching-learning processes, institutions turning into stone pelting and battle fields, delay in the conduct of examinations, compromises in student evaluations, delay in declaring the results, diminished co-curricular and extracurricular activities, administrative lacunae, lack of well organised and concrete educational policies, negligible role of society in educational betterment, negative and compromised recruitment of teachers and supportive staff, lack of well organised and innovative teacher training centres, stressful and uncertain environment, and many other factors having direct and indirect bearing on the education system.
Sometimes these problems and difficulties are traced to teachers in our society and a teacher is being labelled as a scapegoat. Although a teacher always tries in the best possible way to address these issues and grievances, the circumstances and the policies in vogue hamper the process.
Identifying the key areas for a better education system is not easy but a herculean task full of challenges. It will require a complete overhaul of the present education system but in a phased and regulated manner. Some argue that privatising the whole education system will do the requisite engineering and improve it in a better way. Another school of thought stresses on innovative and skill-based teaching-learning processes. However, opinions vary.
We need to learn from mistakes and stop wasting our resources in the wrong direction. It is the high time that complete change in the examination and evaluation system (which constitutes the core of education) is made operational. Student opinions need to be carried forward with autonomy and flexibility for a better educational system. Pertinently, the Government has come up with academic calendar/ planner for schools to streamline the ailing education sector with special emphasis on overall and inclusive education, however, it will be quite interesting to see its progression under the prevalent political and social disturbances.
Quality education is the most crucial sector for the successful development of a nation. It is the education system which transforms the fate of a nation. Every country wants to be among the World’s top nations in terms of better education, governance and economy. A nation’s prosperity means how well educated and trained its citizens are to face the challenges in life. History is witness to the fact that successful nations utilise their resources effectively and in the best possible manner to achieve better educational gains for the welfare of their societies. These initiatives have enabled them to exhibit supremacy and control towards the weaker societies and nations. The nations who compromise on education finally perish. In this perspective, we need to introspect and utilise our resources in the best possible way to protect and improve our education system.
There is no doubt that teachers are a role model and have a multi-dimensional role to play in the institutions and in the society besides imparting quality education and life-enhancing skills to the students. Ensuring skill based, creative and innovative learning is the hallmark of today’s education. The teacher’s role in enriching the students with the timely knowledge, imparting skill-based education, enlightening the students’ critical thinking, inculcating moral principles; problem-solving and development of scholarly capabilities is inevitable.
Listening, counselling, facilitating, guiding and mentoring the students besides teaching is the quality of a superior and an excellent teacher. How many of students become successful entrepreneurs, innovators, scholars, doctors, engineers, professors, scientists, civil servants, etc. depends on how good education and professional development they have obtained from their teachers.
Teacher’s role is above all. Teacher’s job is no way an easy task where everyone will fit, it requires a lot of efforts, guts and diligence to prove as a successful teacher. However, in the present times, the teacher’s role has changed from mere traditional teaching to facilitators/managers of teaching-learning process in light of the easy and open access to sources of knowledge these days. Students have full access to the Google, YouTube and other sources wherefrom they can fetch full knowledge, provided they learn and know the positive usage of the internet rather than spending precious times on social networking sites and domains. Here becomes the role of parents, teachers and society pivotal in guiding our young generations towards a sincere, honest and right path.
There is no clear-cut formula or shortcut for effective teaching but there are ways, means and methods to achieve a brilliant teaching attitude that of course leads to a successful institutional growth and positive development of academia. Teaching blended with research assumes high significance enabling the best way to teach. Therefore, teaching integrated with research proves very successful for imparting better education. That achievement also demands honesty, diligence, modesty and a disciplined life of a teacher full of moral values and ethics besides requisite teaching skills and qualifications. These qualities finally enable a teacher to become an institutional and a nation builder.
The role of a teacher is not confined to a classroom only but is beyond the boundary walls of an educational institution. History is the witness that it is the credible role of a teacher that is responsible for great institutional development and nation building. Alas, our society which has failed to give the desired status and honour to a teacher. Although the teachers need to be treated differently with more respect and honour in the societal setup.
The systematic approach is lacking somewhere although we can’t blame the Government only. Most often we don’t get good teachers to teach, able administrators to rule as well as effective planners to govern. The different people at the helm of affairs coming for the same task at different times try to do things differently and that proves disastrous for the education system in absence of a set framework of policies.
Even the ministerial changes one after the other made during these years has not proved beneficial for our education system, albeit it has suffered due to frequent change in policies suiting to their respective taste and political gains. To conclude, utmost priority must be on protecting the rights of students while devising and implementing the policies, and I believe, a teacher still has the best role for a better education system.
(The writer is Assistant Professor of Zoology at Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar. Views expressed are personal.)