Ankur's post on the state of Schools in India prompted me to get my dad's opinion on improving the sitution in the Govt. School.
This is one of his pet topics as he was closely associated with management training for a long time.
So here goes....
Performance appraisal :
1. Scholar's performance
2. Teacher's performance
Of these two I would rather prefer the second as more important in view of the fact that our objective at present is to improve the educational system in institutions esp. Govt. institutions.
While the scholars' performance is being apprised, by various means , and from time to time this system of apprisal is being updated and revised , the performance of the teachers is given scant regard .
Some of the higher institutions such as IIMs do have a performance appraisal system for teachers in the form of feed-back in standardised formats .Even these formats are not tailored to individual subjects but are generic in nature and therefore the efficacy of these formats is doubtful. At the same time the other institutions do not even have such rudimentary feed-backs and tend to shy away from apprisal of any kind.
Therefore if the remuneration of the teachers is linked to performance by some acceptable form - acceptable to both the teachers and the taught - the educational system per se will see some light at the end of the tunnel.
However care has to be taken to fine tune the apprisal system itself periodically. This can come about only if we set up an objective group of persons who have a stake in the system and this can be achieved only by giving wide publicity and inviting comments from the public .
While it is true that the teachers are being increasingly diverted for other 'works', ostensibly for "pulic" purposes, the fact that the education per se is given a go-by and nobody seems to object to this. A typical example is that the teachers were given TARGETS to "catch" victims for sterililization surgeries under the family planning programmes; and so is the case when every election crops up be it the panchayat level or the parliament level. The irony is that the teachers do not seem to protest and seem to be happy to get away from their primary jobs.
In my personal experience I have come across the crass attitudes of the teachers even when they are well and regularly paid. All this is because of the fact that the teachers' performance is not apprised in an objective manner. Nor are they accountable.
I would like to quote an instance that I personaly know. A 400 two-roomed rural school building was built. Although the buildings themselves could be and were built in record time, many were not brought underuse since they were not being taken over by the teachers. The matter required probing so that any changes in design desired by the users could be incorporated. In most of the cases we could find that the teachers were of native of and resided in nearby villages/towns. They were all commuting to their jobs by motor cycles. Consequently a rainy day did not see the teacher at the school. The objection to occupying the buildings was that there were no ramps leading into the class rooms and the teachers insisted that they would only park their mobikes inside the class lest the mobikes be meddled with by the children and surprisingly no sanction was forth coming of construction of the ramps. AND EDUCATION AND EDUCATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE WAS FORGOTTEN. This prolonged for a couple of months and both the construction wing nor the teachers were prepared to bring the stalemate to an end. Seeing the pathetic condition, an innovative solution was found by involving the local villagers who by contribution of material and/ or labour provided ramps to enable their wards to be housed in better class rooms.
Such instances are numerous.
Similar instance can also be quoted from the nation's capital. A group of officers from other states were to be taken around to show the achievements of the Union Territory in school managements. The officers who were to take the guests around Delhi were the ones who were supposed to periodically inspect, supervise and advise. But surprisingly the 'guides' did not know their way around; in one case they even took the officers to a gate of a school which was locked up and the neighbours around on enquiry revealed that the gate had not been opened for almost a decade and that the a small gate from another street was being used.
If such are the approaches to education where are we?