PLIGHT OF RURAL PRIMARY SCHOOL: A CRITICAL STUDY IN THE BARPETA DISTRICT OF ASSAM

 

                                    Dulumoni Goswami

                                                                             Pradip Roy

                                   

 

INTRODUCTION

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 including Assam. The Government of Assam has created  ‘Axom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan Mission’ a society under its Education Department for this purpose. The main goals of SSA are: 

*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.

 

OBJECTIVES

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.

 

METHODS

Sample

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.

 

Tools

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.

 

Procedure

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 Assam with total land area of 3,307.3 sq. km.. The district is very much rich in flora and fauna. According to the 2001 census, the total population of the district was 16, 42,420 out  of which 8, 46,106 were male and 7,96,314  were female  The sex ratio was 941 female per 1000 male and density of population was 506 per sq. km. Literacy percentage   was 61.25 %, out  of which 65.95 % was male literacy and 57.35% was female literacy. Barpeta district has been divided into eight educational blocks with one Block Elementary Education Officer in each Block. Total number of primary schools in the district is  1,839. Total number of Gaon Panchayats in the district is 155 with 1,077 villages of which 131 villages are without school.

 

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.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

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.

 

CONCLUSION

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.

 

REFERENCES

NIEPA (2004) District Report Card, 2004. NIEPA, New Delhi