SHILLONG, April 22 2017: A Formal and quality Education is an important asset that one may acquire in the 21st century. Institutions and universities play an important role in as far as providing quality education and shaping the future of the students is concerned.
Coming close to home, Meghalaya has come a long way in as far as imparting formal education is concerned. With regard to the secondary and the higher secondary school, many institutions follow the curriculum of the Meghalaya State Board of Education or more commonly known as the MBoSE.
The board was instituted in 1973 by under the Meghalaya Board of School Education Act, 1973. It has been the dominant force in the field of elementary, secondary and higher secondary education in the state of Meghalaya. A board that is always been hailed as one that is always scaling new heights, the MBoSE has been slated as one of the foremost boards in the northeast. However, there are many loopholes and concerns which do need attention.
A constant concern that is highlighted among the teachers and parents of students studying under the MBoSE is that there is no upgrading of the syllabus. The content of current MBoSE syllabus for the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Standards have not undergone any prominent changes in last ten years, and this shows the state of affairs of the board.
In a short interview with the former chairman of the MBoSE, Mr E.P. Kharbhih, he stated that the MBoSE is one of the most ‘progressive boards’ in the North-East region. Furthermore, he stated with regard to the syllabus content, such matters are framed in accordance with the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) of 2005, which has been given by the NCERT.
Adding to his views, Academic Officer from the Shillong Office, Dr Esther J Shongwan said that the board has taken up initiatives such as the Digital Evaluation. In this process, answer scripts are corrected digitally to avoid subjectivity or any unethical means to creep in while doing the corrections.
She also spoke of the way in which much of the processes in the board are now moving towards more online spaces such as the registration of candidates. Based on the technological advancement, one can say that the board is progressive.
With regard to syllabus and curriculum, Dr Shongwan highlighted that the board follows the NCF of 2005 which by rights had to undergo a change in the year 2010 but has not yet seen the light of change. “Seven years have now lapsed and there is a cascading effect”, she said adding that a few changes have been made to the information in the textbooks such as Computer Science, Mathematics and Social Science which one believes is slow progress but progress nonetheless. For the teaching of Literature Dr Shongwan is of the opinion that music, film, folklore and folktales must be added into the curriculum.
Her concluding remarks were that if the board has to go ahead and scale new heights, there is a need for dynamic and strong leadership in the board. Also the pre-existing ties with the other state boards through the Council of Boards of School Education in India or COBSE, has enhanced exchange in information, inputs, materials and practices.
However, these claims of the MBoSE have been questioned by many teachers who were interviewed subsequently. Many disagreeing with the statement that the board is ‘progressive’ feel that in order to compete with the other central boards at least, there are still miles to go.
Ms Kathleen S, a Literature teacher in a reputed school in the city points out that much of content of the syllabus especially for the Higher Secondary Section is very limited and does not allow for creative expression of students. For her, the main concern is with the testing pattern as according to her, the pattern is quite “repetitive, textual and does not provide a scope for reasoning”. This limits the imaginative power of a student and makes her/him view Literature so a fixed entity.
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Meanwhile, Mrs Madhumita M, a teacher who has served for 37 years and continue to do so said that the current syllabus of the MBoSE is at par with the other boards as well. Speaking from her experience, she had stated that the current testing pattern has improved form the older essay type pattern to the current objective type pattern. According to her the scope for learning is greater now compared with the previous syllabus.
Many of the other teachers have all raised concerns with regard to the content as they claim that many a times; the publishers do persuade the direction of the content. At times this produces defective textbooks such as the Political Science textbook of class 11. This issue Dr Shongwan claims that no one has brought to her notice as such. Many senior teacher of the subject do not use the textbook prescribed by the board as it is not does not cover the necessary portions of the syllabus. The students also face a huge problem as many may not have access to the books which cover the relevant topics and this was another issue that they have to grapple with.
On the subject Mathematics, Ms Ideini I, said that the MBoSE syllabus is well placed in comparison to the CBSE but is still behind in comparison to the ICSE syllabus. According to her the subject of mathematics is not a tough subject but it depends on the ability of the teacher to make the children understand. For her, the use of everyday examples is what helps in driving home the meaning or the message of the theorems and such. She also encourages the use of study groups as peer learning is much more effective at times as compared to the chalk and blackboard technique.
On the other hand, students who use the study group method believe and their results have shown that this method is effective when it comes to mathematics. Speaking from experience Ms Ideini, said that a teacher may not be able to attend to all the needs of a student and when they are preparing for their exams.
The reactions and expressions highlighted the need to revamp the educational system in the state so much so to enable to state educational institution to be at par with other institutions in the country.
Finally, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful tool that can change the world’. In line with the quote, one believes that it is necessary to inculcate in our youths the questioning attitude where we do not things for granted but raise questions to grand narratives that are around us. Therefore, it is essential for both the students have this in mind and with the guiding light of the teachers they must learn not only to answer questions but to raise them as well. A good catalyst for such a change would be that of a syllabus which gives the children enough and more exposure to the things around them and inculcate a good and sound attitude to the events around them.
By Julian Jyrwa — The writer can be reached at email@example.com