Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Goa’s Educational Excellence

Goa’s Educational Excellence

Mr Digambar Kamat is not the first Chief Minister to promote the idea of making Goa a centre of educational excellence. Recent governments too had expressed their commitment to make Goa a preferred destination for students from other states and abroad and also turn it into the most educationally advanced state before the Tenth Five Year Plan comes to an end. But the facts and figures of the State’s Education Department speak otherwise.

If Goa still lacks the basic infrastructure to emerge as a preferred destination for education, much is required to be done to improve the standards of education and make it available uniformly to all. Goa has a literacy rate of 82 per cent but it appears that this perception is based on the initial enrolment in schools as only 30 per cent of the students are able to complete secondary education. It is sad that the government so far has not succeeded in checking dropout at the secondary level which was around 40 per cent even in 2006-07. Unless the objective of providing secondary education to the children in the state is fulfilled it would not be proper to claim that Goa is an educationally advanced state. Significantly sometime back the chairperson of the Goa Knowledge Commission Mr Peter Ronald de Souza had observed, “Goa has the best spread of schools in India. But these are used for half a day.”

In this background let us look at the quality of the education provided by the schools and institutions. A recent survey conducted by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) on students learning level in government school across India pointed out that the students in Chattisgarh and Goa scored less than 40 per cent The NCERT had checked learning abilities of students on nine aspects of mathematics and also languages and environment sciences. The government should take it as an indicator to improve education and its quality.

There is no doubt that successive governments have not utilized and exploited the opportunities that were available to them. Obviously it would not be wrong to say that if an opportunity is not subjectively perceived and also exploited it cannot be described as an opportunity. Unfortunately Goa is still missing the advantages that come its way. Very little effort has been made to audit education in all respects, nor the education providers. While this has adversely affected the growth of education, it has also paved the path for commercialisation of education.

The magnitude of commercialisation could be gauged from the circular issued by the director of education on January 25, 2008. This asks the unaided schools and institutions to “curb the malpractice” and also to “prevent commercialisation of education”. They have been charging exorbitant fees in contravention of the Goa School Education Rules 1986. Now that it has come to the notice of the government it must act. Providing a composite, quality and inexpensive education is the key to the success of education in Goa and making it the preferred destination for learning, not just providing computers to students.

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