Class 9 students in MP asked to write English alphabet, paste pictures of objects in copy
“Write A to Z in capital letters. Paste a picture of objects in your copy names of which begin with a small letter like ‘b for ball’.”
This is not a homework meant for children of nursery schools in any city but class 9 students of government schools of Madhya Pradesh. This exercise in the English language is a part of their studies at home under a bridge course they are supposed to purse across the state during the closure of their schools, as per a time-table prepared for the students by the Directorate of Public Instructions (DPI), a wing of school education department in Madhya Pradesh.
As per the time-table introduced to the students from class 9 to 12 during the Covid period by the DPI, since July 20 has a bridge course on other subjects too. For class nine students subjects include Hindi, English, Mathematics, and Science.
Introducing the course to students in the time-table, commissioner DPI Jaishree Kiyawat states, “Schools are not able to run due to the situation created by Covid-19 but studies of the students must continue to take place. With this objective ‘Hamara ghar hamara vidyalaya’ programme is being introduced. The role of teachers, guardians, elder brothers, and sisters of students besides the students themselves is much important in the implementation of the programme.”
If under the English section the class nine students are supposed to write the alphabet and paste pictures in copy based on the alphabets, in the Math section they are supposed to memorize multiplication tables on a chart from 2 to 10, inter alia. In the science section, they have to learn the definition of matter and write the names of 10 matters. In the Hindi section, they have to recite the poem ‘Suraj ka byah’, understand its meaning, and write it inter alia.
Educationists have expressed their disappointment that students of class 9 have to practice on such basic education to acquire knowledge which students in private schools are supposed to learn in pre-primary or at best at the primary level of education.
At least three teams of school education department authorities including one led by the then minister for school education Dr. Prabhuram Chaudhary had visited South Korea in September 2019 to study the education system over there. It was during the then Congress government in the state. On his return, he talked of replicating South Korea’s education system in the state but nothing significant could take place, as per officials of the education department.
Educationist Prof (retd) Zameeruddin said, “I see a pathetic situation in the field of primary education in Madhya Pradesh. This is why when the students of government schools pursue secondary education from class 9 after completing primary education they can’t compete well with students who have private schools background.”
As per the annual status of education report (ASER) 2018 (Rural) by Pratham, an organization working in the field of education, there were 34.4% children in class 5 of government schools in 2018 who could read standard II level text. Similarly, there were merely 16.5% of students in class 5 who could do division. Similarly, as per the annual status education report (rural), 2019 of the organisation, as many as 34.2% of students in class 3 in the state capital Bhopal could recognize numbers from 1 to 9 but couldn’t recognize numbers from 11 to 99.
As per the school education quality index report, 2019 of NITI Ayog Madhya Pradesh was at the 15th position in the country with 47.2 percentage points in 2016-17 while slipping one position further in comparison to 2015-16.
Retired joint director of Directorate of Public Instructions, Bhopal KK Pandey said, “Alphabet knowledge should begin at primary level. If we don’t improve education at the primary level we can’t improve education at the secondary or higher level. The state government must take a serious note of the situation.”
The directorate of public instructions commissioner Jaishree Kiyawat couldn’t be reached for her comments. She didn’t respond to phone calls and text messages. There was a similar response from the principal secretary, school education Rashmi Arun Shami.
Minister of state for primary education (independent charge) Inder Singh Parmar said, “The state government under the leadership of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is taking several measures including the new education policy to bring about a positive change in the field of education and improve the overall situation in the state.”