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Red flag for zero performing schools

By EMN Updated: Jan 11, 2014 11:32 pm

Staff reporter

THE Government of Nagaland is to affect the biggest overhaul in the state’s school education sector since its attempt in 2011 to ‘cleanse’ the department of bogus teachers: by February, every “non-performing” government middle and high school is to be relegated (“downgraded”) to their previous grade.An order to this affect is expected to be issued by the department of School Education by the coming week, highly reliable sources in the department as well as community leaders confirmed on Friday. However, education officials are reluctant in elaborating details associated with the development.
The move of the government can be traced to Minister for School Education CM Chang’s first promise – made on the day he took charge of the job in September the previous year – that poorly-performing government middle school and high schools. He had stated that schools that were not performing “up to the mark” and showed “nil performance” would be “downgraded”. Chang had said in September that the government ‘has decided’ to “downgrade” high schools that showed “nil pass percentage” in the board exams.
Attempt to reach Chang repeatedly for comments proved futile. Nonetheless, highly reliable sources, including village education authorities, teachers and an official of Dimapur district’s Education division confirmed the decision of the government.
A highly-placed source in the School Education disclosed to this daily that the order affecting “downgrading” of government schools in Dimapur district could arrive next week. The official was reluctant to elaborate the development. Nonetheless, the source said that the “exercise” is not confined to Dimapur but across Nagaland. The source requested anonymity.
Likewise, another source, a leader of Thahekhu village in Dimapur said that the village has already been informed of the stated “exercise” to relegate poorly-performing middle and high schools in the commercial district. Chairman of the Thahekhu village council Dennis Yeputhomi said that the “official” order has yet to be received but is forthcoming. The “exercise” is confirmed to come into affect soon, he said.
According to the community leader, about 14 government middle and high schools have been identified for the ‘downgrade.’ He said that the event can be confirmed only after the ‘official order’ is received.
Also, a government high school teacher in Dimapur said that the government’s contemplation to ‘downgrade’ poorly-performing government schools was ‘received several days ago’. The source did not wish to be named. The teacher expressed concern for students who have begun filing admissions to middle and high schools in their villages. When the ‘downgrading’ commences, students who have been admitted in the affected schools shall be left out, the source said. He said that “only” the schools that have “nil pass percentage” for 5-6 years would come under the envisaged new system. The detail could not be ascertained at the time of filing this new report.
The reluctance being showed by the sources is understandable. Relegating the schools would have both academic and social repercussions: Infrastructure would be affected while devising measures to accommodate affected students would challenge the administrative capabilities of village education authorities and the department alike.
Social repercussions could be similar. Tribal communities in the state demonstrate a social perception that attached value and prestige in claiming ownership over institutions in their areas of influence. Relegating the institutions could touch issues of integrity for the community as the matter involves questions of incompetence, incapability and poor performance.
The controversy over the poor performance of government school in the state is as old as the institution itself. During the past 5 years, Nagaland has received over Rs. 437 crore from the Central Government under the compulsory free education programme. Unfortunately, the School education sector remains a pariah for policy makers.
During the past five years, only 15 students of government schools reportedly passed in the first division in the High School Leaving Certificate examinations while private schools have had 2,009 students in the rank. In the Higher Secondary School Leaving Certificate examinations, government school students passing in the first division were just 923 comparing to the 4,345 students from private schools who secured a place in the first-ranking division.

By EMN Updated: Jan 11, 2014 11:32:33 pm