By Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat
The Minister of Education, Naeem Akhtar, promised to reform the education system in the state. He has directed concerned official to be very active and vibrant and district Bandipora has become on prime focus. District Development Commissioner Bandipora has been very active in “inspecting” schools and issuing circulars. Recently, he suspended teachers for committing spelling “mistakes”. After few days of episode (suspension of teachers) he issued a circular in which he prescribed syllabus and activities for schools. Besides many direction he ordered teachers to help children in memorizing few lines from the Poem, “The Road Never Taken”, it is interesting to notice that in the circular, the lines of the poem have been scripted however with a mistake. I am trying to make a sense of it albeit in a lighter vein. Hope nothing will be taken as personal.
One of the toughest undertakings before the newly formed coalition government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is the reformation of the education sector. Everything in the sector is in the mess. The present Education Minister Naeem Akhter Sahab seems very worried and concerned of the sector. He promised to reform school education system and talked about improvement of “quality” in education; promote creativity, inquisitiveness, rationalization of teacher pupil ratio and so on. However, it appears that he has been confused by diverse and different theories put forth by educationist, sociologists and psychologists with regard to education.
It was only possible after many deliberations, discussions and debates that government has found a solution, a remedy and a way to reform the education system in the state.
The solution has not been borrowed from the philosophy and ideas of Plato, Rousseau, Ibni Khaldun, Nayer, Gandhi, Illich,Paul Ferrari, John Dewy, but found in the ideas of American Poet Robert Frost. His poem “The Road Not Taken” appears very influential in influencing the policy of Ministry of education. The circular (No.DDc/Bpr/2015/P5/21-78) circulated (29/04/2015) by District Development Commissioner Bandipora speaks loads about it and gives backdrop and rational of activities and actions carried out so for by the government especially in district Bandipora. The circular reads “all students should be helped to memorize the following last stanza from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” to introduce them to the world of English literature.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I..
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”
Since last few months DC Bandipora has been active in “inspecting” and visiting schools. He has send clear and bold messages to teacher community and since he suspended two teachers for their “incompetence” the whole teacher fraternity of the district is on tenterhooks. He is acting as Lal Singh in the district, firm and strong for the reformation of education in the district. On his “inspection” to a School at Hajin Sonawari, he “caught” a teacher with wrong spellings “Fingure” for “finger”, not only the concerned teacher was embraced infront of staff and students but another teacher was called and asked, whether the spellings written are correct or not? On his (other teacher’s) inability to figure the spelling error both the teachers not only embraced and suspended but the whole teaching community was embraced and disgraced by calling the press. Let me try to make a sense of activities carried out by Officer albeit in a lighter vein.
On the mastery, capability and competence of DC Bandipora over education, Naeem Akhter Sahab, Education Minister of Jammu and Kashmir assigned a special assignment of teaching to DC Bandipora. To do justice with the assignment he (DC Bandipora) has been assigned, to set an example and become a role model he put hard days and nights together. After many revisions and hard work he prepared a topic and made a lesson plan. He dictated the poem “The Road Not Taken” to students and wrote it on the blackboard, asked students to copy. All the students copied as it was written on the blackboard. Next day teacher (DC) checked the notebooks of students. He recommitted the mistake by giving his signature to notebooks without identifying his mistakes, feeling jubilant over the performance of students, their ability of copy paste; he called the media to highlight his competence and the performance of students. The news became headline in electronic media and got front line in the print media. Everyone started to praise the new teacher (DC) and discuss incompetence of teacher community in the state, forgot the role of socio, economic and political factors on teaching – learning process. A poor man from a remote village while flipping news papers found a mistake committed in the poem. Not believing himself his eyes the poor man called the experts and accessed the original script of the poem, still he was not ready to accept a mistake has been committed in the script of the poem as the poem was transcribed by one of the most competent authority.
After a deep thought over the issue, the poor man mustered the courage to share his thought with the teacher and visited him to his office but faced lot of odds and resistance in meeting him. Finally, an idea stuck his mind he ringed local Member of Legislative Assembly and on his intervention the poor man was allowed to meet the Officer (teacher). In a beefed voice and broken tone again he mustered courage to say, “ Maehaz Bassaan Poem manz che dash na ke dot, dot” ( I think it is dash rather dot in the original script of the poem). The Officer (teacher) glared him from nail of the foot to head, smiled and in a very confident and elitist tone and asked, did you ever read the poem? Looking the confidence of the Officer poor man started sweating, hardly able to breathe, with his dry mouth he replied, I have called many experts of the subject and accessed original text also. The officer now asked poor man to have a seat. He rang the bell and asked peon get a copy of the book from the market. After discovering the mistake, the officer like Americans who are habitual of killing innocent people in Afghanistan and Pakistan called it an “error”. He thanked the poor man and said “you have proved your intellect and understanding of the education system by not going public and press in highlighting the error. The media would have made it a big issue and given it frontline and shook the confidence and moral of all officers besides disgraced them in public”.