PLIGHT OF RURAL PRIMARY SCHOOL: A CRITICAL
STUDY IN THE BARPETA DISTRICT OF
Of the three basic pillars
of rural development i.e. village school, village panchayat and village
co-operative, the school is the most vital component of human development and
the most enduring tool for rural transformation. Education of rural children
plays a crucial role in enabling them to meet the complex challenges of the
world around them. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been launched in 2001 throughout the country
*All children in school, Education Guarantee Scheme, Alternative School, ‘ Back to School’ camp by 2003;
*All children complete five years of schooling by 2007;
*All children complete eight years of elementary schools by 2010;
*Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality, emphasis on education for life;
*Bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary level by 2010;
*Universal retention by 2010.
The quality of education is one of the most important components of SSA to promote universalisation of elementary education. No doubt quality of education depends to a great extent on factors like physical condition, learning environment, activities outside the classroom etc. A few primary school indicators as per NIEPA 2004 were as follows:
No. of Govt. provincialised primary schools -1839;
No. of Govt provincialised rural primary schools - 1773;
Percentage of single teacher schools -12.0%;
Percentage of single classroom schools -7%;
Percentage of schools with common toilet – 14.2%;
Percentage of schools with girls’ toilet - 1.1%;
Percentage of schools with drinking water facilities - 28.1%;
Percentage of schools without blackboard -13.0%;
Percentage of SC enrolment in primary school -7.4%;
Percentage of ST enrolment in primary school- 7.7%;
Percentage of girls’ enrolment in primary school - 49.3%;
Percentage of female teacher in primary school - 22.1%; and
Teacher pupil ratio (PTR) - 1.37.
To find out and analyse the
(a) Infrastructural condition;
(b) Teaching Learning situation;
(c) Teacher’s condition; and
(d) Implementation of Midday Meal scheme in the rural primary schools in Barpeta district.
Sample was taken from all the eight educational blocks of Barpeta district. Five schools from each block, (8 x 5 = 40 rural provincialised primary schools) were selected randomly.
For collection of primary data, two types of questionnaires - one for school head masters and another for assistant teachers were constructed in Assamese language. An observation schedule was also prepared by the investigators to observe the school environment and classroom transaction.
The present study was conducted under descriptive survey method. The questionnaires were administered to 40 Head Masters and 80 assistant teachers of different 40 sample schools.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
Barpeta district is
situated in Western part of
The present study covered various aspects of rural primary schooling in Barpeta district. It found that 22.5 % schools had kaccha building, 57.5 % schools did not have ceiling and 42.5 % schools did not have partition. No school had separate library room. 23 % students had no bench for sitting, 42.5 % teachers had no chair for sitting and only 15 % schools had separate office room. 50 % schools had no boundary wall, 67.5 % schools had no toilet facility, 30 % schools had no drinking water facility and not a single school had separate toilet for girls.
Although 35% of the teachers reported that they followed approved lesson planning while teaching, during observation of classroom transaction, it was found that no teacher followed approved lesson planning. 85 % schools reported that they had adequate blackboard, whereas 12.5 % reported inadequate numbers of blackboard and 2.5 % had no blackboard.
Again 90% teachers mentioned that they used Teaching Learning Materials (TLM) and only 10% said that they never used. During observation, it was found that TLMs were kept inside the box, almost in bad condition and teachers were not motivated to use these in classroom transaction. Teachers mostly followed lecture method. They read the lesson and explained it later. Not a single teacher was found practising improved methodology like competency based, activity based, child centric, joyful learning centered strategies. The average percentage of single teacher schools in the district was 12 %, but the percentage of single teacher schools as found in the sample was 25 %. The average Teacher Pupil Ratio (PTR) in the rural schools of the district was 1:19, which was below the state norms. PTR varied from 1:10 to 1:90 in different schools. As regards qualification of the teachers, it was found that large numbers of teachers in the rural schools of Barpeta district were untrained and ill qualified. 2.17 % teachers were below secondary level, 54.34 % up to secondary level, 21.73 % up to higher secondary level and 17 % were up to graduate level qualification. 30.43 % teachers were still untrained. It was also found that teachers in primary schools were engaged in activities other than teaching. The percentage of female teacher was only 34.78 % and only 15% head masters were female.
As regards implementation of Mid-Day-Meal Scheme, 75% of the schools reported that they provided cooked meal, while other 25% schools distributed uncooked meal to the children, as these schools did not have any infrastructure for mid-day-meal. During observation, it was found that the meal was cooked in very unhygienic condition. Only 56 % schools had separate kitchen for cooking, while others cooked in open space. 30 % schools had no provision of drinking water. Some schools used to borrow water from nieghbours. Community participation was found poor in mid-day-meal arrangement. All the head masters and assistant teachers expressed their dissatisfaction in the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
The school building should have either separate room orat least a partition for each classroom, separate office room and teachers’ common room.There should be toilet facilities including separate toilet for girls and drinking water facility in all the rural schools. The schools committees should consist of committed local persons and should be made responsible for physical infrastructure of the school and also should look after teachers’ attendance. Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) should be as per norms. Special allowances should be paid to primary school teachers for serving in backward areas.There should be proper inspection and supervision. All the teachers should be trained.Training should be followed by follow up action. Social awareness should be developed on the importance of primary education for rural people. Budget allocation should be increased for planning and providing educational facilities in rural areas. As far as possible, the engagement of teachers as well as head masters in activities other than teaching should be reduced. Community should be involved in arrangement of mid-day-meal.
Educating people in rural areas is crucial for achieving goals of sustainable development. In the rapidly globalising world, the sooner the challenges are taken up, the better it is for the future progress of the nation.
NIEPA (2004) District
Report Card, 2004. NIEPA,