By Raj Paneken
Will she let the situation take a turn for the worse before she steps in to redress the situation or will she set up a commission of inquiry to look into the matter? Once again the SC/HSC results for the year 2017 have underlined the steady decline in the performance of the students in these examinations, especially in the core subjects where only 50% of the candidates have obtained credits in these subjects. The situation is alarming. The quality label of the performance of our students in SC/HSC has become a rare commodity. Today we are churning out quantity at the expense of quality. It is inconceivable that each year 50% of SC candidates fail to score a credit in English language. The other 50% who have scored a credit «pas krwar ki zot ene ban tenors,» their English still leaves a lot to be desired. When they are put through their paces, you will be stunned to see the many weaknesses in their English in terms of grammar, verbs and vocabulary. Their only plus point is that they are better qualified on paper, but their command of English is still on the bottom rung.
When the British, American and Australian Embassies sounded the alarm about the decline of English language in the country, what has the Ministry of Education done to redress the situation? I was surprised last week when I read the analysis and comments of certain pedagogues in a weekly paper concerning the decline in the performance of the students in SC/HSC, especially in English language where no one breathed a word about the importance of grammar to improve the standard of English. They talked about seeking expert advice to redress the situation.
But I would like to tell these pedagogues that one of the underlying factors for the decline in English is the acute lack of grammar in the learning of English at school. Today our school population is suffering from an anaemic knowledge of grammar coupled with an acute lack of reading on their part. However, these students are not blameworthy if they are deficient in grammar because they have not been properly grounded in it. Today how many teachers are genuinely knowledgeable about grammar errors and tenses, and who are teaching English language? When they themselves are bankrupt of grammar, what will they transmit to their learners? They, too, are the miserable victims of that vicious circle. When they were at school, they were not properly grounded in grammar, and today they are in front of a classroom teaching a subject which they were not properly taught. It is our actual system of methodology which is accountable for this lapse in the language learning. It needs to be reviewed to include a solid dose of grammar which is an indissociable part of the language learning.
My Advice To Mme Dookhun― The Re-introduction Of Grammar On The Exam Papers For SC/HSC
«Pour redonner la langue de Shakespeare ses lettres de noblesse,» I strongly advocate the e-introduction of grammar on the questionnaires for SC/HSC as in the years 50, 60, 70 where candidates were assessed grammatically if we want to bail out English language.
Grammar is the basis of any language. The language edifice rests on it. So it cannot be weak, otherwise the language structure will collapse. Grammar is a vital component of the language structure. It is an indispensable element in the language learning. The students cannot afford to be deficient in grammar, otherwise they will not be able to express themselves properly in speech and in writing.
One of the reasons why scant attention has been given to grammar is because it does not appear on the questionnaires of SC/HSC as in the past. Today teachers are telling their learners not to worry themselves about grammar as they will not get it for the examination. But they should know better that the students need grammar to express themselves correctly.
I would suggest that we remove the «Report» which is a mini composition on Paper One on the SC questionnaire and replace it by a grammar item like grammar errors, tenses, analysis, parsing, punctuation, word power, etc. Consequently the teacher would be compelled to stuff themselves with grammar to relay that knowledge to their taught.
I am convinced that with the re-introduction of grammar on the exam-papers for SC/HSC along with an intelligent and purposeful reading on the part of the school population, we can get back on our feet again and re-position ourselves in the Commonwealth countries at language level in English.