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Should Students Be Allowed To Grade Their Teachers

A slogan in a world famous poster goes : " Some people see things as they are and ask ' why ?'. But I think of things that never were and ask " Why not ?".

The educational world, marred by falling educational standards and high teacher absenteeism rate is crying for an evaluation system for teachers by the students themselves. But narrow minded administrators and politicians disregard this notion. Cynics fear that children are not mature enough to grade their teachers and this system will hamper the teacher-student relationship. But I am an optimist. Contrary to popular perceptions, this system can yield dramatic results.

The biggest benefit of grading teachers by students is : it will enhance accountability and responsibility of teachers. They will now be concerned more about the comprehension and understanding of students than completing the courses. The teachers will be aware that they will be judged directly by the students, not by any teachers' union body, leading to better teaching standards. The students, equipped by the opportunity to evaluate the teachers, will be more passionate for their studies. They will be assured of quality education and a fair worth of their time and money. To cite a great instance of the effectiveness of the evaluation system, in the corporate world, the employees fill out monthly, quarterly, semi annually and annual feedback forms. These are about their core work, team environment, training etc. They attend one-o-one sessions with their managers and discuss their short comings, opportunities for growth, etc. They are treated as, not only highly confidential but an essential content for growth and improvement. This system is the bedrock of the corporate culture. The corporate entities will stagnate and eventually decline if this system is not taken care of.

Then, why not introduce this culture in the education world? The lesson learnt from the corporate world can be treated as a vision for the success for teachers and students. After all, the governments, corporate world, NGOs etc. do need capable citizens from the educational institutions to accelerate growth. The human resource is the most valuable resource of a nation and no stone shall be left un-turned for its development.

The grading system will also greatly reduce the difference in standards between the government and the private school teachers. According to the data released by UNICEF, teacher absenteeism in India in government teachers is very high compared to the private school teachers. The performance of students in these schools, is thus greatly hampered. The grading system will experience much better organised and effective follow up action, whenever any shortfall is noticed – much in the lines of the corporate world. The teachers will be more sincere in making students apply the concepts and hone their skills.

This grading system will face a number of hurdles to achieve complete success. The students may give biased feedback, driven by their own interest. The teachers may not feel motivated under this new environment and so on. To overcome this, the response from the students shall be kept highly confidential. To analyse the response from the students and the performance of the teachers, an independent committee must be formed that can handle a particular zone or region. The teachers showing the best and the most improved performance, shall be duly awarded by the local, state and the central governments.

Before we introduce any system, a change in outlook and attitude is required to have belief in the mission undertaken. When the Indian government introduced the globalisation and liberalisation policy, many feared that the traditional Indian companies will be swallowed up by the giant MNCs. On the opposite, Indian companies today, are faring much better than our American and European counterparts. No doubt, the policy for grading the teachers also finds opposition from various quarters. And no doubt, as happened with the liberalisation policy, this will be also responsible for a – new emerging India !!!!

Atanu kashyap Adhikari