Of late, there has been severe disenchantment with the way our educationists have been thinking. They are pushing for reforms where none are needed and neglecting areas which demand immediate attention.
English had been crying for a change in content area, which when revamped, was worse than original. The course content fails to evoke any interest in the subject, rather to the contrary dampens the enthusiasm , if any. Even the best of teachers fail to create any buzz.
Assessing children on Speaking and Listening Skills on the basis of one test kills the entire purpose. They try to mug according to the format, learn some tricks which are needed for every English qualifying exam, be it IELTS, FCE etc. They will achieve a modicum of success without any effort aimed at learning the language for the love of it.
Can It be tested like this. Even the logistics are mind boggling. The strength of each section in India on average is about 50 students. They wish to conduct it in one day. We are reeling under severe paucity of staff. An already burdened school is forced to buy several recording devices. Then we are required to keep a track record of them, save them and mail to them for adding to the junk.
A cash strapped govt. will also have to install devices which permit all schools the facility to conduct listening tests in fair manner. Technology apart , we also have to grapple with basic infrastructure like uninterrupted electricity supply. The schools now have to devote a fortnight to conduct these tests twice a year at the cost of disrupting the school timetable and calendar. The length of this charade will depend on the strength of the school.
We are not done yet. The school needs to allot a separate room for the interviews to be conducted in the prescribed manner. The severe crunch in the availability of trained persons to conduct these is also worth mentioning. All govt. schools and far flung ones will tumble into it unprepared following ambiguous instructions.
All this to what avail? Are we going to make any difference to the spoken skills of the students by enforcing these? At the risk of sounding cynical, I can well say that it would soon degenerate into the same farce as the Science and Accounts Practical exams, where the marks are almost predetermined. This fact is no secret and a matter of shame that we hand over these 30 marks to the students on a platter. The true learning is compromised.
The inner circle or the coterie surrounding the change makers has remained the same. Hardly a breath of fresh air. The sole criterion of being there is boot licking and tail wagging. There is hardly any effort to listen to any suggestion or criticism. When the course for class 9nth English was being revised, I was asked to make some contribution. A short story was duly sent and it was included, The lesson being talked about was ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ They felt no need for acknowledging the contribution and conveniently overlooked mentioning my name. The names were the same and predictable.
Even the manner in which the workshops get conducted are high handed. The resource person had the gall to belittle some participants for not filling the feedback form as per their satisfaction. The talking down was a dampener. They also could not stop singing praises of Trinity College Professors. Their lifetime ambition was to win their approval and to show them that India has good speakers. We were asked to keep tapes of such promising students to impress them.
Get a life! Do we need English to impress them? Do they perfect their Hindi to win their approval. High time we stopped bowing and scraping to win a brownie point from them, well a paid for trip is another matter!
The last straw was the arrival of the fountainhead of this scheme. She was hailed as the mother. We were instructed to stand in her honour and give her a standing ovation. After all the oracle had arrived. The attitude was don’t ask me anything which can question it’s utility and purpose, if you bow low enough, I will throw a bone your way.
May God save students from being used and experimented upon for triumph of some.