Summer vacations might no longer be fun and games if you aren’t doing well in studies.
The Centre plans to make poorly performing students sweat it out in remedial classes over the summer vacation and weekends to catch up with their peers.
Human resource development (HRD) ministry officials told HT the states have agreed to a proposal to hold “remedial” classes that might start this summer.
The classes will be organised in all government and government-aided schools to improve the quality of education, an issue raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his last meeting with HRD ministry officials.
“We have asked schools to conduct basic tests and assess the levels of students promoted recently. If there are weak students, remedial classes will be held to ensure they don’t lag behind,” said a senior HRD official.
The classes might reverse a downward trend in academic performance, as captured by the first survey of learning achievement of class X students, conducted with a sample of 277,000 students in 7,216 schools across 33 states or union territories. The study by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) showed only 41% students were able to answer correctly in English. In mathematics, only 40% students gave correct answers. The figure stood at 43% and 47% for science and social science, respectively. The criteria to identify “weak” students have been left to the schools but might include examination results, basic comprehension, reading texts and knowledge of subjects. The performance of these students will be monitored to assess whether extra classes led to an improvement or not.
“Holding such extra classes is a good idea as it will help such students. Though efforts should be made to ensure that such classes are taken during normal school hours or on weekends,” said a Delhi school principal.
India’s schools are chronically understaffed and often function out of dilapidated buildings with teachers using outdated methods.
Quality of teaching varies wildly with a few premier —and often private — schools in big cities diverting attention from the thousands of village and suburban institutions, where students aren’t even taught basic comprehension or calculation.
At the March 10 meeting attended by HRD minister Smriti Irani, top PMO officials and the cabinet secretary, it was decided to “identify grade wise weak students for remedial classes and organised remedial instruction” by July 2016, according to the minutes of the meeting accessed by HT. The ministry wrote to the states with the summer classes proposal soon after.
HRD officials said they originally wanted to hold extra classes during school hours but realised it might hamper normal teaching schedules. That leaves the option of doing it on weekends and during vacations, said officials.
Concerned over ‘archaic’ teaching tools in government and aided schools, the ministry is trying to implement latest teaching methodology and ensure teachers are put through rigorous training.
“This year, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan will be the focus area and states will be encouraged to prepare student friendly learning and teaching material and make use of e-content,” said a senior HRD official.