The talk making the rounds is that soon Saturday classes could be done away with. Education Minister himself has laid it out on the line. This, he said, was the priority of the government to encourage progressive learning.
No classes on Saturday means more time with oneself, which should be a reflective time, Sherig Lyonpo said. But there is a need to look beyond such an easy and spineless statement. Doing away with Saturday classes would of course give teachers and students much desired free time. There would be support from teachers and students. But then, what about the challenge of syllabus coverage that teachers and schools are contending with?
When the beginning of the academic session was changed from March to February, the argument was that 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 is not enough to cover the syllabus.
And now comes the idea of doing away with Saturday classes, which could further add to the challenge of syllabus coverage because doing away with Saturday classes means reducing the already inadequate instructional time by 30 days or more.
Sherig Lyonpo has said that there would be analyses and preliminary discussions before doing away with Saturday classes. There is a small comfort to be had from here. When we are dealing with something so profoundly important as the education of our children and the future of our nation, we can ill afford to make hurried and ill-advised decisions.
Repercussions could be expensive. Serious thinking is, therefore, critically important.
If the change must be brought to the Saturday classes at all, the government must achieve either of two things before getting on with it – redesign the curriculum framework or weed out unnecessary contents from the textbooks. Otherwise, the move could be dangerously destructive.
Giving more free time to teachers and students is important, but by much more important is delivering quality education in our schools. The argument that more free time for teachers and students improves quality of instruction and education does not hold water.
Our education system will suffer if every new government brings with it an idea of change in our education system. The danger is that in the long run we could end up without a solid and stable education system.