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Suggestions for education reforms

April 7, 2008: Education as I have understood is the transmission of formerly learned lessons or conclusion based on them about the personal, social and professional development to the next generation for increased productivity in future keeping in view the psychology of learning.

The first problem is that the psychological foundations of the educational system are missing. Education means making new generation learn as defined in psychology learning means 'relatively permanent change in behaviour." The question arises that are our students learning anything or not?

The second problem is that the teacher is not a 'teacher.' If earning doesn't matter then interest determines profession. In that case the person with a genuine interest in creating or building humans would become a teacher. Such a person would be a leader himself with a passion to create. On contrary in our society teacher is an employee. He works like any other office worker 'Follow a set of instruction and get your pay.' And with this his motivation is externally controlled and he performs only those actions that can bring some benefit to him. Thus the teacher has descended from cleric a mere clerk.

Now with such a teacher the impact is on the students. The teacher being unaware of psychology of learning uses improper methods consequently the targeted learning is not achieved. The use of punishment is usual instead of addressing the psychological problem due to which the student manifests a particular behaviour. It creates either a submissive personality or a rude personality. Due to some reasons (social, economic, psychological or lack of professionalism) teachers, sometimes, snub students instead of solving their problems. And for the same reasons some teachers engage in unethical activities with their own students so the students also learn unethical behaviour. The consequence of all these factors is unproductive labour force.

The third problem is that no attention is paid to ethical and social development. There shouldn't be any grading of students otherwise it will mean that some students are bad. That's unethical itself. Teacher should equip students with enough perspectives so that students can solve their problems in a mutually beneficial situation. That would greatly reduce the social ills, double standards, corruption etc. Alongside a psychological health facility should be there for the students to help them solve the problems they face in their adolescence. Also guidance about the sexual issues must be given in the educational institutes. As it is not done the result is that this guidance comes from informal sources with a high probability of false guidance.

The last point of my definition of education was professional development. This can be achieved only if practical mind-set is developed in a student. To achieve this feature, the teaching methodology should focus on self study rather than notes from board. First how to study and think (analytically, critically and creatively) should be taught and then assignments should be given which should focus on analysis, real life application, criticism and further development of the concepts studied. Then the student should be required to present and defend this in class. This will have three effects. First, an increased sense of independence, second, increased ability to analyse, criticize and develop ideas and third, increased ability to communicate.

These practices should start from metric and an increased weight of these activities in total marks. An earlier start is good, as it will give students more time to polish themselves in these skills. Along side is the problem of evaluation. Evaluation is usually done on traditional basis of question paper. This usual method just evaluates the memory of a student and there is no confirmation that the student has 'learnt' the concept and he is able to apply them in practical life. If our purpose of education is to build productive labour then we must alter the evaluation method so that it is consistent with this aim of education.

This can be achieved by checking out how much grasp a student has developed over the subject. This requires assigning projects, case studies, group discussions, presentations, and questionnaires with some logical problems about the theory of the subject. At least 2/3 of total marks should be given to these activities and remaining to the question paper that should include logical problem of the theory. This way the theoretical and practical grasp of the subject can be measured. The application of subjects at metric level may seem difficult but the logical problems, case studies, presentation and class discussion can be performed at this level.

Apart from these problems within educational system a big problem with the system is of finance and its dependence on government sector that spends merely 2.4% of GDP on its back bone i.e. education. The claims of government are over ambitious whereas actions are inconsistent with the claims. The plans are seldom applied to meet their original target. According to Educational Policy 1998-2010 target literacy rate by end of 2010 is 70% whereas its 49% in 2007. It was part of same policy to increase expenditure on education to 4% of GDP and it has been almost ten years since the policy was announced and still it is 2.4% of GDP.

Instead of depending on the government sector, private sector and educational institutes can co-operate with each other to make educational system more independent, productive, affordable and profitable.

There are three parties in an educational system other than government. These are the student, the teacher and the employer. The student's interest is in low fees. The teacher's interest is in high pay and the employer's interest is in more productive labour. Now the point is to find a solution to these three problems.

There can be a 'study now and pay then' system and an institution of all educational institutions, business organization, old and new students.

The 'study now and pay then' system can be as follows: Students can get education free of cost from the educational institution. In return they sign a contract with their educational institution that they will pay back after a given time a fixed ratio of their pay (no matter how much they earn its ratio) to the educational institution for a predetermined length of time. Now this can have following impact: Student and parents will be released from economic pressure and therefore more relaxed at the studies. Educational institution will get a consistent path of income in future and will become more independent. Since it is the ratio of the income of student the more productive students an educational institution produces the more earning it will have in future. So the educational institution will put more efforts and genuine efforts for better students.

The teachers have become employees and an employee is interested in his pay so then those employees can have a chance to earn better. So with the same conditions (employee and pay) the actions of that person will be consistent with the definition of teacher. Also as then it will be a percentage of income of student the educational institution will not be getting semester wise fees rather a consistent per-month income for long run. And the further expansion of educational institution in number of students will generate further income. This is definitely in the interest of educational institution so the educational institutions will try to expand and give chance to more students. With this scheme eventually educational institution will become independent and the first requirement of being a teacher is fulfilled (independence).

There can also be an institution consisting of all educational institutions, employers, old and new students. This institution will serve the purposes of business sector that gets the output of educational institutions as an input for its profit generation. The interest of business sector is in better labour force so that it can increase profits. It is reasonable to formulate an institution in which employers describe their future forecasts of the labour demand. Then the educational institutions train students with that forecast in their mind.

This will have two benefits i.e. the shortage of labour faced by organization in future will be reduced and students will have a peace of mind and secure future as their jobs are already determined. Also with business sector interest in educational institutions due to future labour force they can participate in various ways to increase productivity by providing facilities of library, laboratory etc. With this system the problems of unemployment and brain drain can also be reduced. Also this institution can perform a regular research for the further improvement of the system in all directions like teaching methodology, materials to be taught etc.

In these two ways the whole educational system can be independent and productive. The three parties' teacher, students and employers will get benefit of it. This can be true provided the business sector understands that it is productive labour that generates high profits.

- Ahmad Hashaam Hadi (The News)


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"Is is possible that KU conduct b-Sc & B-Com examinations in the month of Oct or Nov instead of year end Dec or Jan. "
Name: M.A.RAUF
Email: marauf27@hotmail.com
City, Country: Abu Dhabi

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