Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

Serious issues & ideas. Trusted Sources.

Improving the School Education

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I. How to improve performance in the Exam

  • Prepare question papers according to the mental caliber of the students. So, there’ll be more than one set of question papers in every class

    [March 19, 2009: Kayalpatnam.com>What special steps have you taken this year to improve the results in the public examinations?
    Prof. K. Syed Abbas M.Sc., M.Phil., the Principal, Muhyideen Matriculation Higher Secondary School> We identified weak and good students. When conducting tests, we prepared separate question papers for weak and strong students. Apart from weekly and monthly tests, we also conducted tests everyday morning at 8:30 am ]

  • Conduct Oral questions and internal assessments and award marks for them. Assessments include watching students’ activities, including participation in class discussions.
  • Identify top students at district level and give them special training by best teachers, so that they could become State toppers.
  • Dispel exam fears. Give them tips like ‘meditate for a minute’, mnemonics for remembering, health guidelines etc. ‘Turn off TV’ advice to parents.
  • Conduct Periodic exams, and sending progress reports to parents with SPECIFIC suggestions for improvement. The suggestions may be for both parents and students. Reporting marks alone, with no suggestions, doesn’t help much.
  • Convey how daily prayers and Dhikr help to focus attention. Yoga helps too.
  • Improve handwriting at an early age. Conduct handwriting improvement camps / classes. Excellent answer, in a poor handwriting, gets low or average marks.
  • Prepare easy to understand notes for the average students.

Note: There will always be top performers, and below-average performers. The objective should be 1) Enable the poor and average performers to learn basics (and thus help them to pass) and 2) Enhance the marks of the top performers.

  • Refresher training for teachers (in Subjects as well as in using modern methods in class).

  • Provide spacious class rooms – where one teacher’s class / voice doesn’t disturb the next.

  • Conduct Students’ and teachers’ exchange programme with some best schools.

    DAV Matric Principal’s Interview. Learn the secrets from the Principal of the school (actually, group of schools) that consistently grab the top state ranks. This article is primarily intended to the School Principals, Correspondents, and Teachers

II. How to avoid dropouts at School level

  • It’s a social problem prevalent in poor families, especially those with many kids. Work with school authorities, social workers, NGOs and Government.
  • Many teachers ignore low scoring students. They need to be counseled by the principal.
  • Noon meal scheme helps a lot.
  • Parents like foreign jobs than getting a degree. Even in foreign countries, a degree helps to get high paying job.
  • Our food habits and dressing preferences are costlier than many other communities. When the money is spent on these, the families don’t have enough money for education. An Iyengar friend of mine in US (IT professional, has an MBA from India, drives a used car) compared the benefit of a new car and an MS degree, and commented: “the degree will be with me forever, while a new car will lose most of its value in 5 years. So, i’d spend $18,000 for the MS degree, and not for a new car”.
  • Create awareness among mothers / women about the importance of education. Most professional bridegrooms want only educated girls.
  • Don’t suspend or issue T.C. as punishment (for misbehavior or any other reason). Counsel students and parents.
  • Don’t give unnecessary pocket money. It diverts the students. Many students ask for cell phone, because their friends have one (Peer pressure). Buy cell phones for them only if they are absolutely necessary – like safety, and please dont give them phones with Camera, MMS, Recording facilities.
  • Even a drop-out with SSLC can join Distance education / Open University later when he wants to pursue higher studies. So, don’t terminate.
  • Corporal punishment (beatings, kneel downs etc) and verbal abuses (scolding, “you are useless” etc) hurt the ego, and creates hatred for studies, teachers and society.
  • Problem with girl students: Before and after the school they do house work (cooking, cleaning, taking care of infants etc) and so can’t focus attention on studies. So they score less marks or fail in the exams. Then the parents pull her from school, complaining “We enrolled her in the school, but she didn’t study well”. I’m not suggesting girls (or even boys) shouldn’t do domestic / house-hold works. But, when they cook & clean all the time and can’t study, who is responsible for their failures at School?

Note: The Montessori (Gonzagareddi) curriculum has a section devoted to Practical Life Activities. That includes things like Ironing board, floor cleaning set, crushing fried gram using உரல் உலக்கை (the kitchen tool used by women to crush ginger or betel leaves & nuts), kneading Chapati etc in the Indianized version.

  • Inculcate high ambitions on the minds of students, so they have a goal / purpose / interest in continuing studies. If they don’t know what they could become after the education, they will be less inclined. APJ Abdul Kalam has visited so many Schools, none of them belonging to Muslims.

  • Discourage teenage marriage for girls. Early marriage proposals distract them.
  • Encourage NCC, NSS, picnics etc – so students get attracted to school.
  • The boy stops going to school, when dad gets sick or very old, to take care of his business or other needs. Dowry and other expenses are way too high. Since we don’t like the girls going to work, the entire burden falls on the boy’s shoulder. So, he is forced to quit the school.

III. The inadequacies – Economy, Health and Environment

  • Conduct periodic medical / dental / eye checkups at school. Utilize the free services of Lion’s Club, Rotary etc.
  • Advise parents and students to keep a clean environment and homes, so students don’t get sick.
  • Technical training for poor / average students from early years, so they can join an industry or start their own after 10th.
  • Parents should keep an eye on the students’ TV hours, play times and friends. Parents who are used to reading some Tamil magazines like Junior Vikatan, Kumudam etc should realize that those and many others propagate Soft pornography.
  • Besides TV, students also get distracted by family fights, gossips etc. So, dont talk (or argue) loudly when the kids are studying.
  • Too many functions/parties at home, receiving so many guests who talk to the students for a long time, and taking the kids to too many outside functions (social or religious or whatever) don’t help. Kids should attend functions, and meet guests. But, you got a limit.
  • See if you can get rid of VCR / DVD players, and Video games (most of them Violent these days), and never buy camera / video phones. There’s this story of a kid who rides to school in his dad’s bike. He got a bad habit. While the dad takes him to School, anytime he sees another bike coming near, he kicks that bike. Preaching and scolding didn’t help. One day the dad sees him playing video games – a bike race. In the game, You shouldn’t let other racers overtake you. So, you kick them in that game. The kid was repeating the video games in the real roads.
  • Don’t place the computer in their bedroom. It should be placed where other people can watch it, like the hall.
  • Conduct moral (or, religious instructions) class once a week.
  • Equip them to treat success and failure the same. Counsel the low confidence students.

IV. Miscellaneous

  • Career guidance DOESN’T start after 12th (10+2). It should start after 8th standard. Training for Premier institutes like IIT should be done from 9th standard onwards

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Comment from a reader: I think career guidance start way before 8th standard. One of my ex-classmate (Iyer) who joined +1 from Kamalavathi, used to tell us that he started preparing for IIT when he was studying at 8th standard. I don’t think he chose this option from vacuum, it’s probably because of early guidance and support given by his parents, way before 8th standard.

———————————————————————————————-

  • A professional career guidance centre – staffed by trained guidance professionals – that would start giving advice right from when they enter 9th standard. It could tell them whether the student is capable of going beyond SSLC or should he/she join an ITI/Diploma. If he/she can go further, what other options are there apart from Engineering /Medicine /Computers

  • Provide clean entertainment to the students. It’s no point telling them so many DON’TS and we don’t provide any alternative. Some options are: sports (where our children take part, not tournaments where they merely watch), oratorical contests, quiz clubs, science clubs, writing contests, math clubs, first class library, astronomy clubs, spelling contests, typing classes, computer classes, cookery contests, language labs / classes (Some Hindus enroll / join their kids in Muslim schools so they can learn Arabic – for middle east jobs) .

Final thoughts:

1) Long time ago, the Uttar Pradesh government held a special drive to recruit Muslims for police. The eligibility was 8th or 10th (Dont know exactly). Unfortunately, not many Muslim youths could join, as they never crossed the 8th Standard. Those positions were vacant. (You see, Education is also needed for a feeling of security. If we can’t even become Constables, how would we qualify for higher positions). Poverty and lack of awareness were probably the main reasons. But, if we try hard we can get enough help from the government, the NGOs and corporates / companies.

2) There are many educational improvement / support programs available for Schools. An example is www.extramarks.com There are others who provide the Schools with Plasma/LCD TV and educational DVDs. St John’s International School has now started a Consultancy program (Academic Planning, Faculty development, Establishing new schools, student enrichment etc). Contact: Dr. Kishore @ 044-2681 0519, 99406 26005, or rkishore_sjemc @ yahoo . com. For those who can’t afford these, an option would be to seek help from the nearby better-managed schools.

3) There is a wide communication gap between the educated Muslims, and the underprivileged. A possible bridge is through Masjid Imams. Most Muslims go to Friday Jumua. Utilize the services of Imams to convey these & other ideas to the poor, illiterate Muslims.

4) The moment “Improvement” is mentioned to any Principal, Correspondent or others, they think of “Well, if we had more money we could do them”. I don’t disagree. But, have we thought of “Innovation”, “lateral thinking” and “incremental improvement”? These are crucial for progressing in the 21st century. A lot can be done, with the same amount of money – if only we think differently. Examples:

a) Requesting an NGO to distribute free clothes or note books

b) If your school doesnt have good maths & physics teacher, look around for retired maths & physics professors (who feel lonely in their bungalows). They may happily take part-time classes

c) Rather than starting new schools, work with Philanthropists & NGOs to help improve the government schools. In Chennai, Corporation schools are better than many private english medium schools (When you ask them why their English is poor, the joke is “We know only medium english“)

d) One village/town has a couple of local TV channels. Some of the best teachers take the 10th & 12th subjects, and the Students can watch them via Cable TV

e) Anywhere from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200, you can get computer-aided learning CDs that blends texts, visuals, animation, video clips. An example: www.easylearncbt.com At least Teachers can improve their knowledge by using them

5) For all the discussions on schooling and importance of education, let us not forget our reasons for existence in this world – Worshipping/obeying the Almighty. Don’t focus exclusively on education at the cost of morality and islamic way of life. Look around for stories of “educated” kids not even talking to their parents, while earning in lakhs or settling abroad.

Written by S Ibrahim

Jun 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

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