[lg policy] India (Goa): An uneasy year for education sector

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 28 16:02:29 UTC 2011

An uneasy year for education sector
Gauree Malkarnekar, TNN | Dec 28, 2011, 03.17AM IST

PANAJI: The year slipping by has been the most troublesome for the
education sector as it got itself tangled in the transformation of old
policies spanning language of instruction to curriculum and the
evaluation system. While new challenges are awaiting the education
sector in Goa, 2011 has only just prepared the ground for battle
leaving many issues unsettle.

Language is often directly linked to the identity of people. So, it
was natural that when the state government decided to alter its policy
on MoI for elementary education, the issue became the most discussed
and debated subject. Everyone had a take on the issue, irrespective of
whether they were directly affected by the state's decision or not.
The issue began with the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE)
Act, 2009, of the central government and ended up in the high court of
Bombay at Goa, but not before there were several public meetings, mud
slinging matches, allegations and counter allegations, and politicos
taking sides.

Over 90% schools in Goa are either government schools or privately
managed institutions provided funds by the government. Up to Class IV,
the government grants aid to only schools providing education in the
mother tongue. A majority of schools offer English as the MoI from
Class V onwards. As the RTE Act categorizes upper primary education-
that extends up to Class VIII -as elementary education, parents and
schools were apprehensive about the mother tongue policy being
extended till Class VIII. With no clarity coming from the state
education department on the issue, parents and schools pushed the
government to change its existing mother tongue policy for primary
education. Parents in the movement christened English as 'potachi
bhaas' or a language essential to earn a living in the globalized

The parents' show-of-strength meetings for English received an
overwhelming response and won over the counter-movement for the mother
tongue (with almost an equal amount of support). Chief minister
Digambar Kamat's government decided to provide primary schools an
option to switch over to English if students' parents supported the
decision in a referendum to be held by the schools under the education
department's supervision. In announcing the new decision, the state
government even set aside the report of a state-appointed committee
whose recommendations had led Goa to the mother tongue policy in the

The decision did not go down well with supporters of the mother tongue
movement. Former chairperson of the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher
Secondary Education P R Nadkarni then dragged the state to court over
'faulty procedures' in implementing the new MoI policy. As the matter
is close to being decided in court, the issue continues to simmer.
RTE's no detention policy up to Class VIII is the other provision of
the act which took the state by storm before the academic year could
begin in June 2011. The state decided to implement the policy after
the results for the year 2010 were announced.

The decision led to a marathon struggle between the All Goa School
Headmasters' Association and directorate of education, with school
heads refusing to implement the decision where they had to promote
students that had failed even as the Goa education rules were not
appropriately amended for the purpose. An intervention in time by
education minister Atanasio Monserrate settled the issue with a
promise to put the necessary systems in place for a no-fail policy
from the new academic year provided the headmasters promote students
failed during the previous year.

The Goa board decided to switch from the existing marks system to the
absolute grading system at the Class X and XII public exams in 2011.
The board had been preparing ground for the move for a while with the
grading system already in force in Classes IX and XI. As it was the
first year of implementation of the grades at the public exams, the
board decided to include marks as well as grades on marksheets to make
it easier for students to comprehend the system.

But the board, it appears, bargained for more than its share of
controversy with the decision. Students were stunned when results for
the Class XII board exams were announced as several hundred received a
score much lower than their expectations. The board was forced to
review the calculations of grades and it turned out that over 300
students who had actually cleared the exams had been declared to have

The board was asked by the state government to review its grading
system. Marks and grading system will now continue alongside for the
board exams in April 2012 too. While new policies of the state caused
havoc, the old promises remained unfulfilled. Prominent among them was
the issue of computer teachers which refused to die down in 2011 as
well. In fact, matters were further complicated when government-aided
schools with Catholic managements refused placement of the
government-trained computer teachers, even as the issue was about to
be settled with the process of appointment being in the final stage.

Several issues like the teachers' demand for part B scales and the
clash over the no-fail policy were resolved in 2011, but issues like
the appointment of computer teachers will be carried over for
solutions to 2012. The coming year is set to witness even fiercer
battles as the government faces a tough task over the implementation
of the MoI following the expected final verdict of the court.

The Goa board has to set records right with implementation of the
grading system in the April 2012 public examinations. And issues like
full-day schooling will put the state government up for an acid test
as the new academic year will be the last for the state to implement
provisions of the RTE as per central government directives, even as
full-day schooling is being vehemently opposed by teachers and


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