Cash windfall for rote learning?

COMPARED to none from the many government schools being able to produce even a single student among the top-25 rank holders in the recently declared result of the HSLC 2017 examination, private educational institutions not only hogging the limelight for the past many years but also handing out eye-boggling cash incentives and floating attractive schemes to lure meritorious students speak volume about the intensity of competition amongst the latter schools. Without an iota of doubt, some established as well as recently set-up private schools announcing fee waivers to the top mark getters and offering handsome awards in case the students perform excellently in future examinations also demonstrate expertise of school management committees or boards to enhance reputation of their respective institutes and to what extent private schools would go in trying to impress upon the parents to educate their wards in these schools. The latest BSEM-conducted examination results also exposed the wide gap in quality between students of public-funded and privately run educational institutes as was evident from the official figure of only 7539 students representing government schools in the said examination when compared with the comparatively expensive private schools having a commanding presence of 25,505 candidates and 18,874 of them emerging successful with high marks. Thus, it a fact that in-spite of taking a heavy toll on the parents’ earning and the students themselves having to toil hard to stay ahead of the pack, the private schools remain the first choice for quality education in Manipur.
Though no comprehensive research works have been conducted on teaching method or academic activities of both private and government schools in Manipur, with the exception of almost all the student’s organisations criticising the high fee structure of the former and holding the incompetent state authorities accountable for the threat posed to the existence/survival of the latter, a key finding in a recent study conducted by the WIPRO-Educational Initiatives ‘Quality Education Study’, that covered 89 schools, concluded that even top schools in major cities in India suffer from the entrenched tendency to impart rote learning. The finding is learnt to have generated shock reactions from among those who believed that private educational institutions place greater emphasis on quality and holistic education. In sharp contrast to the common belief, researchers involved in the said study observed that the school education scenario was re-affirmation of the bitter truth; about schools in the country, by and large, sticking to the antique process of imbedding knowledge through mere transmission of information in a rigid classroom atmosphere, where the emphasis is on memorisation and the objective is to rush through a pre-determined syllabus and prepare children for examinations. Manipur found no mention in the Wipro study, but the firm’s findings have close relevance to the state, where private schools are known to pass on the curriculum load upon the children, with the parents consequently shouldering the burden to perfect their wards, academically, by enrolling them in private tuition centres as well as keeping a hawk’s eye on their in-house activities, so that the children remain continuously focussed on their textbooks and examinations.

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