Friday, June 27, 2014

Group Evaluation

For fair assessment of answer scripts, teachers in many schools in the country are practicing group evaluation. It is evident from various facebook updates and calls from fellow teachers elsewhere in other schools. It's a good move for schools in Bhutan. Unlike single teacher evaluation, group evaluation gives no room for biased assessment. 

Science group
In my school teachers form groups in their respective subject department. To make assessment even fairer my school has given index numbers to all students. Writing index numbers instead of names facilitates fair assessment, in that it prevents teachers from the likelihood of awarding extra marks to their favorite students and low marks to those they don't like. We are more or less emulating BCSEA's way of doing assessment. 

Although long and tiring, there is fun in doing group evaluation. We get to eat variety of refreshments. Teachers take turns to serve refreshment to the group. Each day there is something new to eat and there is a competition about who would bring the best refreshment. It is also a time to talk about a range of issue from government's lopsided pay raise; to how it would affect village folks; to world cup; to how teachers' pay does not commensurate with their work; to soap opera; to fashion celebrities; to the rocketing price of commodities in the market; etc. Another good thing about group evaluation is that teachers can spend their summer break freely. Normally teachers do assessment during the break but group evaluation finishes everything before the break and leaves no outstanding work.   

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ajahn Manit Boonprasert: My Professional Inspiration

June 2011, Rangsit University, Thailand, I was listening to a lecturer's presentation in the class when an elderly couple walked in and took our attention. The lady introduced herself as Ajahn Mannit Boonprasert and the man as Ajahn Uthai Boonprasert. Ajahn in Thai means teacher. The lady  had a soft voice. She was  polite and wore a gentle smile. She mentioned that they were both lecturers with the university. The lady also mentioned that she was our course leader and that we would mostly be dealing with her for the rest of the course. We were left with over nine months to complete the course

Ajahn Manit Boonprasert started teaching  research methodology in education. Later she also became my thesis advisor. It was as a lecturer for research methodology and as my thesis adviser that I got the opportunity to work with her. As I started to interact and discuss with her both in the class and in her office over several issues regarding my thesis, I saw some of the finest qualities of a teacher in her. She was truly an inspiration for me.

To be continued..... 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New Principal Brings Hope

Samtse Higher Secondary School has been without a principal for over a month. Not having a principal in the school was like a voyaging ship without a captain. We felt as though an important element was missing in the school. The entire fraternity of the school have been expecting for the new principal to arrive and take over the school as soon as possible. Fortunately today, to the joy and delight of everybody in the school, the new principal arrived and assumed office.

His first address to the students and teachers of the school today gave us renewed hopes. He said 'I am a strong believer of change!'. And definitely change is what the school needs. Samtse HSS over the past few years has not been able to see glory in any of its endeavors. It has not been able to take a progressive course in it's undertakings. The school's motto 'Striving For Excellence' remained a far-fetched dream. The outcomes of most of it's endeavors have not been as expected. It has not been one mostly sought after schools for students.

Picture: BCSEA, Pupil Perfromance Report
From among the host of issues faced by the school I will bring out two that's prominent and need to be addressed. Firstly, students' poor academic performance. The Pupil Performance Report, 2013 of Bhutan Council School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) reported that out of 200 students in class 12 in the school, only 4 qualified for undergraduate studies and 27 for various RUB colleges. And out of 148 class ten students only 81 (43.55%) qualified for higher secondary education (Pupil Performance Report, 2013, BCSEA) owing to which the school has been has labeled as one of the low performing schools and ranked in the bottom ten. Although there has not been any formal complaint from anybody about the declining academic performance in the school, every Tom, Dick and Harry in the locality talks about it. Besides, a few years back an anonymous post on kuenselonline forum criticized the school for being a place of 'academic drought'. The school has some of the finest teachers, giving their best effort yet it has not been able to see light at the other end of the tunnel. There seem to be a problem somewhere. By and large, it indicates that the state of student academic performance of the school is really in a bad shape.

Secondly, students' discipline and conduct. Discipline is essential for education. There has not been effective education without discipline. Today teachers in the school perceive the prevalence of arrogant behavior, use of obscene language, eccentric dressing style and substance abuse among students in the school. And it is getting pervasive by the day. As far as substance abuse is concerned, it has been attributed to close proximity of the school to the border town of Chamurchi where chemical substances (drugs and other forms) and tobacco products are easily available. These issues have been seen as militating factors against students' academic growth.

Hence, this situation calls for serious reform in the school. We cannot afford to have these trends persisting. We got to address them sooner. And we are hoping that the new principal will see to it and bring about positive changes with his initiatives. Fortunately, in his first address to the students and teachers, he stated that he wants to take the school to the top ten in the rankings. That gave us a sea of hope. Those words truly made us happy. We hope that the new principal will bring in some fresh perspectives and place innovative and viable ideas and take the school to a new height. Of course leadership alone cannot bring about the changes and the onus also lies equally on other stakeholders, leadership is still the most important and the foremost factor in taking the lead role so that others can follow suit.