|QUALITY OF EDUCATION VERSUS QUALITY OF LITERACY
In every session of National Assembly, the members of Joint Assembly express their dutiful concern about deteriorating quality of education. They debate, deliberate and sometimes even decide among themselves that quality of education really is deteriorating. Then they try to find loopholes that are visible in the surface. The so-called concern in Assembly misleads the so-called already concerned parents. Then parents together blame the teachers and Ministry of Education, cleaning themselves of the responsibility towards their children and future generation. The so-called concerned parents are not illiterate but those who are literate and are in services or doing business. Do they sit five minutes a day helping their children to do homework? Do they care a hoot if their children are facing any emotional and psychological problems in the schools? The answer is emphatic no.
Is quality of education really deteriorating? The definition of education is complex and subjective. It differs from person to person as our opinions differ. Jumping to the conclusion in today’s situation would be like judging book by its cover. Till now, Bhutan never carries out any nation wide research to determine the quality of education. Nor does Bhutan have any definite tool to measure its quality. Nobody has assessed in what way our quality of education is deteriorating. However everyone seems to have noticed two things; the inability of high school students to write a proper application that was easily written by class two students twenty year before and the growing rate of unemployment where even collegians find difficult to get jobs. Many seem to base the standard of education on these two circumstantial reasons which is obsolete and outdated. Lets us ask ourselves, weren’t class two students twenty years ago father of few kids where today they are hardly of age eight? Isn’t it possible that employment in the past were given to those who could just sign as there was nobody who could read and write?
The education in old time was purely academic based and students who studied were already mature than high school students of now when they started their schooling. They were mature and could know the value of writing and reading, sometimes even memorizing each text in monkish way. It could be judged from the way elderly write application in Dzongkha. Almost every word written for same purpose is more or less same to one written by another elderly. What they studied was purely book based. They lacked wholesomeness. The older people can be called literate but not educated. Secondly, if we say quality is deteriorating based on employment, it is too simplistic. There were not much educated people for so many vacancies. Their supply was far less than demand. Hence, every Tom, Dick and Harry who studied in India were revered as ‘babus’ whereas those who studied in Tibet were revered as ‘Geshey’ or ‘khenpo’. Even those who can only press their thumps on paper became dashos. The dashos as we can see now are obsessed with power and what they can do is just ordered blindly. They expected those who are below their position to obey them but what they lacked is innovation and practicality.
In contrast, youth today are critical, innovative, experimental and creative. They even know about world more than what would have been known by graduates of ten years ago. Youth today are curious, and ready to ask questions. Youth today are energetic and restless not submissive and blindly obedient. When their teachers and parents failed to understand them and failed to channelize their energy to right course, they become frustrated and misused their energy. What they need is someone who can say, “what you are doing is wrong but
I am ready walk together with you through your doing”.
The ministry of education’s policy of wholesome education is a success. Students now know something of everything and everything of something. Indeed, the seven years old class one students know many things about world even some learned man can’t. They know about Maradona of Argentina, Madonna, the pop queen and Obama, the president of United States. The educated men of yester years wouldn’t have known who was president of China. They would have been textbook-wise but worldly-foolish.
Of course students of this generation have one fault. They can’t write the things written in the textbook. Students today have taken education from ears to eyes because of different media of entertainment and electronic learning. The old time tested method from ears to hands and ears to eyes is being ignored. However, given the choice and responsibility, this generation youth can do better than what Khenpos and Babus could have done in their life time with their text book ideas.
Of course, opportunities should be created and education should be of choice and of interest which youth can put to use once out of schools. The exams on textbook tested nothing but how much they have memorized in last one month.
The current unemployment is not the tool to measure the quality of education. Unemployment is just a problem of supply exceeding demand. It is nothing but simple mathematics. This also reflects on traditional thinker’s idea of education as reading and writing which now become mismatch in the job market as State run educational qualification cannot fulfill the criteria that are demanded in the market.
Do actress has to know mathematics more than basics? Do fashion designer has to study history of Second World War?
If the quality of education as the MP deliberated is really going down, the failure is system and us. Every one of us should be blamed; government, ministry, teachers and parents in equal measure. Blaming the teachers who sweats minimum of ten hours a day is not only unfair but blasphemous and giving them increment of few hundred cannot change. Teachers cannot teach well than what they teach now because they are trained that way. The systems made them that way and their teachers made them that way.
The ministry of education’s changing syllabi like cat shifting kitten from place to place is not helping teachers and students either. Teachers just can’t read today and teach tomorrow. They need to collect knowledge and research on that syllabus. The poor student-teacher ratio is also the problems especially in remote villages. The female teachers should be also sent in remote village. It will not only help solving girl students’ problems but also will work as motivation to girls in the village. The teacher should be also student friendly. They shouldn’t act like authority. There should be sufficient teachers in the village just like in towns. When there is no sufficient teachers, teachers get bored and they even gave unconfirmed holiday to students.
My idea of needing female teachers is not that I am jealous of female students living in town with their Dasho husband but it is more to do with moral support female students need in village where their role is pre-defined by society as housewife in Bhutan. Lastly, the system that emphasizes quality education in terms of writing and reading should be changed into better and future oriented system. Teachers who emphasize on forcing student’s to listen should encourage students to ask question and learn to learn themselves. Parents should take more responsibility for their children than teachers. Finishing syllabus is not important but preparing for future is.