CHENNAI: While the School Education Department is gearing up to conduct quarterly exams for all classes from the last week of September, several educationalists and teachers suggest open book tests and group discussions (GD) in schools as part of preparations for examinations for children.
Since school students began attending offline classes for the academic year 2022-23, after nearly two years, the government initiated several schemes and initiatives to fill the learning gap. But it has also faced challenges like high number of teachers’ vacancies in schools and possible drop-outs as well.
Amid this, educationalists claim that conducting open book tests and GDs will be an interesting learning methodology, as it involves application of mind.
“Teachers and schools will anyway conduct model tests before the quarterly exam. As part of that, open book tests should be conducted, and teachers must prepare a question paper specially designed for it,” explained an educationalist, on the condition of anonymity. “While engaging in open book tests, the child will use the mind and visual sensory to find answers thus learning and remembering concepts better and for longer duration.”
Similar is the case with GDs, pointed out another educationalist. “When students discuss topics and brainstorm concepts they learned in class, it acts as revision,” he stated. “Besides GDs within the same classroom, students in higher classes can have GDs with younger students from other classes. This is also an effective use of resources.”
But before implementing newer ideas, general secretary of State Platform for Common School System TN (SPCSS-TN) PB Prince Gajendra Babu insisted the State government fill teachers’ vacancies. “The Education Department has more than 13,000 vacancies. But the government is not filling them. This will cause more serious damage to learning and the system overall,” averred Prince. “Why isn’t the government not acting faster to fill these vacancies?”
Explaining the challenge due to lack of teachers, a middle school government teacher said, “There’s honestly a struggle to finish portions before the exams. Though conducting activities like open book tests and group discussions are doable, it overloads the existing staff. To avoid this, the department should appoint more teachers at the earliest.”
Make us BT assistants this academic year & revise allowance: Teachers’ panel
Due to work overload and hectic field work involved, the Block Resource Teacher Educators (BRTEs) association has urged the School Education Department to convert 1,000 of them as Bachelor in Teaching (BT) assistants this academic year.
Additionally, the BRTEs have requested the department to revise the travel allowance to Rs 3,600. Currently, BRTEs claim that they’ve been given a meagre Rs 900 since 2014.
Meanwhile in the case of posting, the government mandates appointing 500 BT assistants every year. However, the order has not been implemented from 2014 till 2021, said sources.
“Since 2010, the department has been holding recruitments. In the place of 6,000 BRTEs mandated by the government, currently there are only 2,800. With fewer staff, we’re forced to work with nearly 40 schools per person instead of 10-15 schools. Considering our increased work burden for several years now, the department should convert 1,000 BRTEs on the basis of seniority and willingness this academic year,” said KP Balaji, general secretary of TNBRTEs Association.
Additionally, due to lack of BRTEs in TN, a vital job of tracking out-of-school kids also gets severely hit, allege association members.
Subsequently, the association has insisted on general counselling for the rest of the staff who’ll leave after reposting. It also pointed out the lack of BRTEs in Tamil and Social Science subjects, which ultimately becomes a challenge while training teachers and monitoring the teaching process in schools.
BRTEs across TN are recruited via the Teachers’ Recruitment Board and they work under Samagara Siksha Abhiyan. Besides training teachers, one of the duties of BRTEs is to keep track of facilities in government schools across the State.