PESHAWAR: More than half of the ninth graders of government schools were declared failed in the previous board examinations apparently owing to shift in the examination pattern from rote learning to students learning outcome (SLO) or conceptual learning, according to sources.
The failure of 51 per cent students in the examinations conducted by the boards of intermediate and secondary education across the province have raised questions about the performance of education department having around Rs300 billion budget for the current year.
These students were enrolled in the nursery classes in 2013 when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party formed government in the province. During the past 10 years, they students reached grade-9.
In the previous annual examinations, 269,367 students of government schools appeared from across the province and 134, 991 of them declared failed. The failure percentage is 51.
Change in paper pattern, overcrowded classrooms and incompetent teachers termed main reasons
Contrary to the students of government schools, the performance of students of private schools was far better as 172,714 appeared in the grade-9 examinations and 127,721 of them were declared successful. Their passing percentage stands at 74.
Sources in Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Peshawar told Dawn that prior to the previous annual examinations, examiners used to set all papers on the basis of rote learning. However, as per government’s decision, the boards shifted 50 per cent papers from rote learning examination pattern to conceptual learning for grade-9. They said that the next examinations for both 9th and 10th grades would based on SLO.
In their chat with this scribe, officials in education boards, principals of government schools and teachers cited different reasons besides change in the examination pattern for the poor result of government schools.
The chairman of one of the education boards told Dawn that education department’s decision regarding shift in the examination pattern was taken in the middle of academic session. He said that it was not an appropriate time. He added that the decision should have been taken at the start of the academic year.
A headmaster of a government high school told Dawn that it conceptual learning methodology was good for students instead of rote learning as without clearing concept of students on a topic become a futile exercise.
However, he said that most of the teachers responsible for teaching 9th and 10th grades were not able to clear the concept of their students about a topic due to their incompetency.
The headmaster said that the teachers promoted to senior positions from the cadres of primary schools teachers (PST), drawing masters (DM), Arabic teachers (AT) and theology teachers (TT) could not teach any subject to students of 9th and 10th grades.
“I am sure that majority of the teachers promoted from PST, TT, DM and AT will not be able to pass the subjects they teach to 9th and 10th graders if they appear in the board examination on the basis of SLO,” he said.
He said that the teachers inducted through testing agencies or public service commission were competent and had no issue in teaching their subjects to students. He added that headmasters had no magic wand to enable teachers promoted through faulty procedures to teach in an effective manner.
A teacher of a government school linked the high rate of failure with overcrowded classrooms.
He said that 100 to 120 students sat in a classroom in government schools of urban areas while the number reduced to 70 to 80 in rural areas. “Conceptual learning is impossible in highly overcrowded classrooms,” he added.
Secondly, the teacher said, students of the government schools were poor and could not do home task given by their teachers rather they did part time labour after school timing.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2023