Efforts to ensure a brighter future
Indranee Devi Higher Secondary School, one of the oldest schools in the small town of Dergaon in Golaghat, finds itself in a peculiar position vis-a-vis results of its Class X and Class XII exams. While students passing the matriculation examination in Class X have brought laurels to the school, it has become a continual struggle to better the quality of students in the higher secondary level.
The institution was established for boys in 1932 by Purnodev Thakur as Minor School, and recognised by Gauhati University in 1950 after the first batch successfully passed the matriculation examination that year. In 1946, the middle elementary school was upgraded to a high school. In 1949, it was named in memory of Indranee Devi, wife of Purnodev Thakur. In 1952, Thakur dedicated the school to the people of Dergaon and by a deed of gift and in 1953 all the school property was given away to the government. From then onwards, it has been a government-aided school. In 1977, it became a provincialised school and came under the purview of the government. In 1991, the school was accorded higher secondary status and became a co-educational institution at that level.
Principal of the school Ajit Thakur said he had tried to keep the good students who pass matriculation from the school or usher in brighter ones. “We offered almost free education for the toppers from our school. Then we tried to admit bright students after taking an admission test. We also fixed a high cut-off marks. But all these methods failed and we were forced to take in students with low marks as few qualified for the arts stream in our school,” he said.
Thakur, while trying to pinpoint the reasons for the poor results, said most parents prefer to send their children to private English medium schools or even private Assamese-medium ones over government-aided schools.
Thakur said the pass percentage was hardly 30 to 35 ever since the higher secondary exam was held in 1993.
He was, however, proud that it was only after he became the principal about two years ago that the school produced one first division result in two consecutive batches — in 2011 and in 2012.
The principal said he was hopeful that things would improve if the government permitted them to open science and commerce streams and also if the school became a co-educational institution at all levels.
The school, however, boasted of a very good pass percentage at the matriculation level. In 2010, Ripunjoy Hazarika, a student who had a hole in his heart, got a rank in the matriculation examination.
“We had a very good football team and we are trying to bring in a coach to train our team,” he said.
Thakur said they had a number of good singers, one being Dibyajyoti Mahanta, who has won a number of singing competitions.
The children of the high school were given training in communicative English during the summer vacation this year.
“It is in these small ways that we are going ahead to bring qualitative change in the students but what we need is more funds from the government to usher in major change,” he said.
Right to proper education
Ajit Thakur, principal,
Indranee Devi Higher
The government’s right to education programme and the rule that all children should be promoted till Class VIII is good but its implementation is flawed.
We have found that students passing out from Class VIII and later taking admission in high school are found to be not up to the mark.
There is a lack of proper monitoring by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan authorities who are supposed to keep track of how much a student is learning up to Class VIII.
Our school admits new students from Class VI after the students clear lower primary schools which have grades till Class V. It also admits students of Class IX after they pass out from the middle elementary level schools which have Classes till VIII.
In the present system, most of these students are below average. Since promoting everyone has become mandatory, these schools probably no longer feel that there is a need for strict assessment and quality is, therefore, suffering.
For us, it is more difficult to bring students who are admitted to Class IX on track for the matriculation examination as we get less than two years to do so. After the first board exam is held in IX itself, it comes to light that most of these students fare worse than those we have been teaching since Class VI.
No doubt the government’s intentions in not wanting young students to fail and drop out in the process was done with a good motive. But who will ensure the quality education at the elementary level?