Rural Education Curricula Need Overhaul

During our school days of 1950s, most of the students in rural India used to be scared of two subjects- English and mathematics. While one of my uncles, who ranked very low in his class, was very good in conversational English, I myself even after always topping in class was not so good in spoken English. Somehow my uncle got interested in speaking in English and attained excellence in that. Another uncle just couldn’t pursue further education because of English, as the subject was compulsory in school final examination.

While mathematics may be requiring certain special frame of mind, English as language doesn’t remain today a subject that scares the students. Even the rural students can learn English, particularly communicating in English through digital technologies. Few years ago the media reported how a student from a poor rural family picked up American English so well that even teachers couldn’t find how he did that before he himself revealed the secret. And he had learnt it by closing himself in a room and listening to audio and videos of famous American films. Presently many schools set up English laboratory to teach English. I don’t think it would cost huge to have one in rural schools.

Unfortunately, English teachers in the rural schools are themselves not proficient in English. How can they teach rural students coming from families where only local dialects are used for communication? Further, the examination system adopted for the languages doesn’t lay emphasis to test the capability of communication- spoken, reading, and writing. Surprisingly, it is not only English in which the rural students are poor, they are poor even in state official language such as Hindi. The excellence in communication in English has become an important factor in improving employability. A special attention is necessary to improve the English of students coming out from the rural schools instead of creating special classes for such students in higher education.

Almost 12 years of schooling must make the students proficient in talking, reading and writing in simple and correct language, be it English or Hindi. It’s unfortunate that students from even the so called English medium schools are also neither proficient in English nor in vernacular, as reported by various surveys. Thrust must be on learning sufficient vocabulary and its proper use rather than answering questions based on the text in course in a particular manner.

All other subjects such as geography, history, science, and hygiene may also be part of the language text books with well written essays meant for the class level. Teachers need not be highly qualified. Even some one with good school final education with intensive training in teaching techniques can teach language with help of digital gadgets and teaching aids that are available these days. The teachers must encourage the students to form groups and focus on reading, writing and talking with each other in English.

Thrust of education up to class VIII in rural India must be on few subjects: the two language languages- vernacular and English, mathematics, fundamentals of farming, creative skill, and preventive healthcare through physical education.

For example, 88 per cent of the total population in Bihar lives in rural areas and agriculture is the primary source for their livelihood. A majority of them go back in agriculture as on today. A basic course of agriculture must be part of the curricula up to class X. It will create a right type of the manpower that will remain and get engaged in the villages. Presently almost 100% of the persons engaged in farming had hardly any formal education about agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. Whatever they know has come from their parents or from neighbours.

It’s shocking that the quality of education getting imparted in rural schools is not only poor but irrelevant for the students and their career. The state must not only ensure 100% enrollment, it must also focus on making the schooling interesting imparting knowledge and skill that improves employability.

The rural schools still run on the mercy of the poorly motivated teachers for the students allured to the schools for midday meals or for getting the cycles or dresses free. The committees expected to supervise the work of the teachers are dysfunctional. Can the government think of appointing a mentor for each school with a background in education such as retired teachers or an educated army pensioner or some NGO? During our school days of 1950s, most of the students in rural India used to be scared of two subjects- English and mathematics. While one of my uncles, who ranked very low in his class, was very good in conversational English, I myself even after always topping in class was not so good in spoken English. Somehow my uncle got interested in speaking in English and attained excellence in that. Another uncle just couldn’t pursue further education because of English, as the subject was compulsory in school final examination.

While mathematics may be requiring certain special frame of mind, English as language doesn’t remain today a subject that scares the students. Even the rural students can learn English, particularly communicating in English through digital technologies. Few years ago the media reported how a student from a poor rural family picked up American English so well that even teachers couldn’t find how he did that before he himself revealed the secret. And he had learnt it by closing himself in a room and listening to audio and videos of famous American films. Presently many schools set up English laboratory to teach English. I don’t think it would cost huge to have one in rural schools.

Unfortunately, English teachers in the rural schools are themselves not proficient in English. How can they teach rural students coming from families where only local dialects are used for communication? Further, the examination system adopted for the languages doesn’t lay emphasis to test the capability of communication- spoken, reading, and writing. Surprisingly, it is not only English in which the rural students are poor, they are poor even in state official language such as Hindi. The excellence in communication in English has become an important factor in improving employability. A special attention is necessary to improve the English of students coming out from the rural schools instead of creating special classes for such students in higher education.

Almost 12 years of schooling must make the students proficient in talking, reading and writing in simple and correct language, be it English or Hindi. It’s unfortunate that students from even the so called English medium schools are also neither proficient in English nor in vernacular, as reported by various surveys. Thrust must be on learning sufficient vocabulary and its proper use rather than answering questions based on the text in course in a particular manner.

All other subjects such as geography, history, science, and hygiene may also be part of the language text books with well written essays meant for the class level. Teachers need not be highly qualified. Even some one with good school final education with intensive training in teaching techniques can teach language with help of digital gadgets and teaching aids that are available these days. The teachers must encourage the students to form groups and focus on reading, writing and talking with each other in English.

Thrust of education up to class VIII in rural India must be on few subjects: the two language languages- vernacular and English, mathematics, fundamentals of farming, creative skill, and preventive healthcare through physical education.

For example, 88 per cent of the total population in Bihar lives in rural areas and agriculture is the primary source for their livelihood. A majority of them go back in agriculture as on today. A basic course of agriculture must be part of the curricula up to class X. It will create a right type of the manpower that will remain and get engaged in the villages. Presently almost 100% of the persons engaged in farming had hardly any formal education about agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. Whatever they know has come from their parents or from neighbours.

It’s shocking that the quality of education getting imparted in rural schools is not only poor but irrelevant for the students and their career. The state must not only ensure 100% enrollment, it must also focus on making the schooling interesting imparting knowledge and skill that improves employability.

The rural schools still run on the mercy of the poorly motivated teachers for the students allured to the schools for midday meals or for getting the cycles or dresses free. The committees expected to supervise the work of the teachers are dysfunctional. Can the government think of appointing a mentor for each school with a background in education such as retired teachers or an educated army pensioner or some NGO?

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