‘Leak of interest’, ‘staff of our school were vacant’, ‘our school has situated remote area’: if this is how some English teachers from Punjab government schools write, it’s no surprise that their students have flunked the language exam.
A meeting with English teachers from government schools here on Wednesday proved to be an eye-opener for education minister Daljit Singh Cheema as he minced no words while giving a dressing-down to them for their poor language skills.
Cheema wanted to know why more than 80,000 students out of around 3.5 lakh appearing in the Class-10 examination of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) had failed to clear the English exam. So he had summoned the teachers from schools with the worst result.
And soon the reason was there for all to see as the language skills of these teachers were not up to the mark. Around 220 teachers who assembled at the local PSEB office here were given a pro forma and were to mention two things: reasons for the poor result in English and the suggestions to improve the learning levels and the result.
While mentioning the reasons for the bad performance, some of the teachers came up with ‘pearls’ such as ‘leak of interest’ and ‘parents shoud involved by PTM’. For most, both grammar and tenses took a backseat.
When asked to speak in English, these teachers again failed miserably. Naturally, this did not go down well with the minister, who told them, “No wonder, so many students have failed. They are not at fault. Those being taught by such teachers should not even dream of passing the exam.”
The minister came down heavily on Sukhdev Raj, a teacher from Gurdaspur, who had given the main reason for the poor performance as ‘our school remote area’ and the suggestion to improve the result as ‘fresh periods before recess’, saying, “Had your English teacher been alive, I would have asked him what he has taught you. If students don’t study, at least you study, so that you improve your language.”
Another reason given by most for the poor performance was that their students came from a rural background. Cheema told them that this was no way to assess someone’s performance. He said, “The students are from a humble background, but you teachers are not. So why is your performance not up to the mark?”
The knowledge of spellings of these teachers also left much to be desired. The word ‘practical’ was spelt as ‘precticls’, ‘lack’ was spelt as ‘leak’, ‘should’ became ‘shoud’, and ‘vacant’ as ‘vacent’.
Referring to a batch of students with poor performance, Baljit Singh, a teacher from Gurdaspur, wrote, ‘This year stuff not so good’. Another reason for the poor result read, ‘English languages are international languages so no interest’.
Pritam Singh, a teacher from Fatehgarh Sahib, who wanted to say that the posts needed to be filled in time, wrote in the pro forma, ‘posts need to be fulfilled’. Another teacher wrote, ‘student mental level are not well in these syllabus’.
Cheema said it was a matter of grave concern that teachers in English were making such grammatical errors. He said the government would arrange training sessions for these teachers, and even then if their performance did not improve, it would reflect in their ACRs (annual confidential reports).