The rise and downfall of a nation or society is directly related to the quality & spread of education. India, which is standing on an important threshold of emerging as a superpower, cannot ignore the need of providing its people universal access to quality & affordable education at all levels.
The issues about quality are often neglected. This may be because the current concern about the government is to increase access to education. But neglecting this issue will only thwart the useful gains made till now. There have been several problems related to this specific education criteria.
In spite of several governmental programmes, not much improvement has been made.
There have been several suggested solutions. Many of them range from frequent inspections, more government funding etc. But the best of all these undoubtedly is, evaluation by the students.
Democracy is a beautiful principle. It allows the ruled to choose their rulers. Similarly, this can be used to improve the quality of education. Student evaluation at school & college level will be a breakthrough in quality education. The students can point out the faults of the system more accurately. They can tell what they did not understand, comment on lack of aids & teacher punctuality. The amount of books ad notebooks that would be required for good understanding can only be told by the students. The quality of a teacher can best be gauged by a student. Students can also comment on whether they are getting any time for recreational activities or extra-curricular activities. Through this not only the quality of education will improve, but the extra money which the parents spend on tuitions & coachings can be saved.
We already have a system in several colleges, in which evaluation of teachers is done by the student. But this system has not proved to be a effective one. The evaluation forms are not analysed or no action is taken based on the results. Private colleges just try to fulfill the AICTE guidelines, but do not take any corrective steps. Likewise, inspections of schools have also not improved the teaching quality.
The Central & State governments should jointly develop a supervising authority separate from the present education boards. These authorities should focus on teacher & school administration monitoring. Evaluation by students should be conducted solely by this authority on a regular basis. The sheets should be prepared scientifically & should be analysed by independent experts. These should then advise the schools and relevant education boards on new principles which should be followed and also action against incompetent teachers. The results should be freely available to the public through RTI.
Along with this, evaluation by parents is also very important. Parent-teacher meetings should be regularly conducted. Parents should be allowed to access evaluation records of teachers and subsequent discussions should be conducted in the meetings.
A former minister once called our Higher education the sick-child'. Even studies conducted by NASSCOM have commented that 90% of our graduates are unemployable. The research conducted by NGOs has found glaring discrepancies in the learning level of primary students. All this makes quality of education a very important criteria. Evaluation by students can improve teaching quality to very high levels. With the passage of Right to Education, it has become imperative that we should find new methods to increase access & to improve quality of education.