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What ails education in Garo Hills?

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Biplab Kr Dey

Tura, May 24: The SSLC results are out and as usual Garo Hills has continued to drag the overall pass percentage of the state. While there has been a marked improvement, with Garo Hills this time registering close to 36% pass, there is still a gulf of an entire sea between the region and the rest of the state.

The latest results come even as many as nine from the region shone on the merit list, including the topper of the state who comes from the region. The town of Tura shone brightest with 8 of the 9 toppers coming from the town. Sherwood School, as usual, continued to shine the light to others.

The overall picture however is dismal to say the least. So what really ails education in Garo Hills and more importantly will it be able to come out of the rut that it has put itself into.

Historically too, Garo Hills has lagged so far behind the other parts of the state over decades with the gap widening with time. We try to look at some of the factors that could be the reason why education has continued to lag.

Primary Education

The base of any form of education comes from the primary level and though there is a presence of schools in almost all villages in the region, many of these institutions have not had teachers for years and by extension, students. Many that were willing to study trudged along to schools nearby despite having to walk miles to and fro. The lack of school teachers in many of the remote parts of the region had a serious impact on the quality of education.

It is only recently that recruitment was taken up which too has now become a bone of contention as many of the teachers who were given jobs had D.El.Ed of online courses amounting to 18 months. Given the fact that the Supreme Court has already come up with an order that allows only regular D.El.Ed for government teaching jobs, the situation is perilous to the state’s education situation.

While this is just the overall situation, the lack of quality checks by education authorities, who only visit schools once a year has also been a factor. In all districts of Khasi-Jaintia Hills, education authorities have been proactive in inspecting schools on a regular basis and the results have shown over and over again. That however is lacking in the Garo Hills region which has meant that school teachers have been able to do lax work without really having to fear action.

Many students, especially from the rural belt, find it difficult to grasp words or even concepts despite passing the primary level comfortably. This has meant that secondary education also includes the entire primary section as well leaving many having problems in coping up.

Urban – Rural divide:   

As has been seen over the years, urban schools have been outperforming the rural belt by huge margins. The towns of Tura, Phulbari, Dalu, Baghmara, Dadenggre, Williamnagar, Resubelpara, Mendipathar, Ampati among others have all brought in exceptional results when compared to the rural areas. This can be narrowed down to the fact that urban areas have more private schools than government schools. In fact all toppers in the past decade in Garo Hills have come from towns and primarily from private schools.

What the above points out is the fact that the seriousness of education in government schools as well as the quality has left a lot to be desired.

Many rural schools in the region, including some prominent government ones, have single digit or even zero pass percentage. With their being no impetus to push for better results, it may take decades before someone gets serious on education in these institutions

Access to labs, extra-curriculars

It is a known fact that Science and Math are the major scoring subjects for those that have done well in their SSLC exams. This comes from the fact that these students have access to science labs among other things.

“Hands on learning stays with you longer while theory takes a while to get used to. However, unlike schools in other districts, many schools in both the rural and urban belt still do not have access to something like a science lab. This has led to many students grappling with concepts that would otherwise have been easier to understand in a practical mode,” felt a teacher from Tura.

The lack of such facilities has led to many failing to pass either the Math or Science test.

Another ailment that one can add to the list is the huge classification of schools in the state. Deficit, Adhoc, SSA, government schools, private schools all form a part of the education system in the state. However, with most struggling to even pay their teachers emoluments on a monthly basis, the push for hands-on education is a pipe-dream in most schools and for most students.

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