SRINAGAR, May 21: In Kashmir perception matters more than the reality. The common belief among the people, mostly urban population of Kashmir valley, is that government-run schools are worst and private schools are better.
The government schools have been damned over the years for showing poor results in examinations particularly after militancy erupted in the valley in 1989 leading to lack of proper administrative accountability.
But in the past one decade as the violence ebbed, it seems that the government-run schools have slowly but steadily resurrected their position.
In the recently announced results for higher secondary part two board examinations, it was for the first time in the past two decades that the number of students who acquired top ten positions were more from government schools than the private ones.
Of the total 124 students who had topped in streams like Science, Commerce, Arts and Home science, 64 students belonged to various government schools.
A comparative look at the result-trends of the government and private schools for the past one decade shows an encouraging slant towards the former.
The statistics provided by school education department revealed that from the 43 percent overall pass percentage of higher secondary government schools in 2002, the percentage has climbed to around 60 percent in 2011.
On the contrary private school results for the same exam have remained static to around 88 percent throughout the decade.
In class 10 examinations the percentage of students who passed in government schools in 2004 was around 43 percent, which shot up to 65 percent in the year 2011. The private school results of the same class on the other hand slipped to 67 percent in 2011 from 77 percent in 2008.
There are around 1458 high and higher secondary schools across valley, out of which 895 are run by the government.
Experts give various reasons of this trend.
“A comparatively peaceful atmosphere of the past decade than a decade earlier gave a gestation period to government schools for improvement. The administration became active and hence teachers had to work hard,” said a retired government school principal, Abdul Hameed.
“Besides, the latest recruitments infused fresh blood in the government schools. Often young teachers are more active and target oriented than their aged counterparts,” he said.
Jan Mohammad, a counsellor working with an NGO on mental health, believed that the exposure of students to mass media has opened their vistas with an urge to excel. “I think the students, whether those of government or private schools, want to study. They know what education means and how it can change their life,” Mohammad said.
Prominent educationist and social scientist of Valley, A.G Madhosh accepted that the scenario of working in government schools have changed completely.
“Earlier the government school results would hover around 10 to 20 percent but now it is much better,” he said.
But he felt that there was still a long way to go. “There is still a gap when we compare quality of output of government and private schools.
The private schools have a greater pass percentage owing to close monitoring and proper accountability of teachers,” Madhosh said.
“As against that we have much qualified teachers in government schools but there is no accountability and no thrust is given to student participation,” he said.
“If a teacher is behind target in private schools he has to give answers. The same system should be in place in government schools,” the veteran educationist said.
However deputy Director School education, Mohammad Ashraf gave some other reasons for better performance of private schools.
“The students in private schools are from the affluent class. They can afford tuitions and mostly have educated family background. Besides there is retention policy among private schools,” Ashraf stated.
“In our government schools the students are from middle or poor strata of society. We allow all the students, whether academically poor or good, to appear in the examinations,” he said.