That the government is considering introduction of a television channel dubbed Sikkha TV, especially dedicated to education is most welcome. Education Minister Dipu Moni disclosed the government intent at the Deputy Commissioners' Conference on the Education Ministry when the participants suggested special classes for students of schools in rural hinterlands to be conducted by guest teachers from reputed educational institutions. The education minister's argument in favour of such a TV channel is sound for a number of reasons. First, a large number of such schools are there in rural areas where the need for teaching by qualified and expert teachers is great. Compared to the need, guest teachers will be too few to do the job. Also, their physical movement will be more taxing than imparting lessons. Moreover, their absence from their workplace will create dislocation.
In a situation like this, television can be a viable alternative to the proposal. True, not all rural homes have TV sets but if a school makes arrangement for telecast of expert teachers' lectures -maybe, a series of lectures on a subject, both rural teachers and students can attend those. There is hardly any village or school in the country where TV or electricity has not reached. Teachers of rural schools will benefit most and after class they may be able to explain a few points still not clear to some of the students in a class. But there are some problems as well. When students have not been made familiar with the basics of a subject because school ran without a subject teacher or classes were not held regularly, the contents of such expert lecturers are sure to go over students' heads. If students have to benefit, they must be reasonably prepared to follow such lectures.
Clearly, such arrangements point to the wide gap between qualities of teachers of select urban educational institutions and those of rural ones. However, highly qualified teachers do not necessarily mean excellent classroom teaching. As is the practice in the capital's reputed schools, it is the after-school coaching that makes all the difference. Classroom teaching in most cases is nominal. Real education is a rare commodity there. The ultimate objective is to prepare students technically and methodically at coaching centres to score high. It is not essential to know if students have comprehension of the subject under discussion. The friend, philosopher and guide in one have long taken leave of the country.
Yet if qualified teachers conduct classes on TV, at least the meritorious among the rural students will reap rich dividends because without such helps a few from such backward areas and poor families can hope to achieve the top grade results. All because they are genuinely brilliant students. Ideally, though, eye contact and face-to-face teaching and feedback are the best way to inspire scholarship. This is missing from the present system of education. The need is to develop a different set of education manual and a new breed of erudite and dedicated teachers who can lead the young learners on way to enlightenment. Commercial education must be replaced gradually by pragmatic but enlightened education.