Ruminating change

At a time when pros and cons of doing away with Saturday classes are still being debated, the 19th Annual Education Conference in Phuentsholing Wednesday arrived at a decision that there would not be Saturday classes starting 2019 academic session.

That there were strong reservations from some of the participants meant that the decision could have been laid aside for the next conference. There was clearly no need to rush.

The argument for the change was that doing away with Saturday classes would encourage progressive learning because teachers and students would have more time for reflection and revision. Doing away with Saturday classes would, of course, give teachers and students much-desired free time. The show of hand at the conference made it manifestly clear.

But then, what about the challenge of syllabus coverage teachers and schools are contending with? Many teachers have been compelled to take extra classes to complete the syllabuses.

Not far back in the years gone by, academic session timing was changed because the total instructional time wasn’t enough in school, particularly for middle and high secondary classes. Teachers still are of the view that 180 days of instructional time may not be enough to cover the syllabus.

What needs to be borne in mind, more importantly, is that there is no change whatsoever yet by way of in-depth study to consolidate the curriculum or thinning the already too heavy contents that teachers have to deliver. We are told that any such change might not come until 2020. What this would entail is squeezing in co-curricular activities such as games, sports, professional development activities, review meetings, remedial classes, celebrations and others in just as many instructional days remaining without Saturdays.

If analyses and preliminary discussions were promised before arriving at the decision to do away with Saturday classes, many teachers felt they were badly served. Doing away with Saturday classes without redesigning the curriculum framework or weeding out unnecessary contents from the textbooks first will have an undesirable impact on the teaching-learning process in our schools.

Giving more free time to teachers and students is important, but by much more important is delivering quality education in our schools. Some educationists are already warning that this [ill-prepared rush] could be a dangerously destructive move.

A change begs for change when it is coming in for a lot of sticks from within the system itself.

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