Posts Tagged ‘Public Education System’

Learning through Development of Non-cognitive Skills -A Sikshana Initiative

October 31, 2012

There are some very disturbing facts about primary education in the Public School System that needs a close look. These are adequately highlighted in the ASER reports from time to time. For instance, 27.6% % of the students in 7th Std lack the ability to read in own language; 51.7% of them cannot divide a three digit number by a single digit. These are skills that they should have acquired at least three years earlier. The thing that causes greater concern is that this problem may, in the absence of further interventions, go unaddressed through High School and may eventually become lifetime issues.

The above shortfalls are notwithstanding the fact that the teachers are well equipped to handle them, both in terms of qualifications and experience. Neither can they be traced to the students’ inherent abilities and intelligence as, barring very few, most of them appear to be bright enough not to fall in this bracket. It is obviously a case of teaching taking place and not learning.

The two factors, which are widely regarded as the causes for this discrepancy, are motivation and volition on the part of the students *(1).  The major component of Sikshana, as a program, was designed to motivate the students and get them to become interested in the process of learning. It was observed that even where these efforts have had an effect, the learning levels were not registering an increase beyond a point.

The typical intervention for those who did not possess the skill was to ask them to ‘study’ – in the conventional sense- Kannada text at home and keep doing it under the supervision of the teacher till they acquire the skill of reading fluently. It was soon realized that, while someone like the teacher in the class can impart knowledge, a skill needs practice- something that the student needs to put in an effort for. Reading fluency is a skill that falls in this category, especially for those who know their alphabets. Since such a practice needs to take place at home, the ability and willingness of the student to do this for the right duration and at the right time every day assumes significance. Assuming that the motivational efforts put in are adequate to get the desired response, a pilot program was run during 11-12 in 413 schools with 9730 students along these lines; in spite of a highly focused effort and close follow-up, the year long program could only result in 84.7% of the students acquiring the skill. While this was higher then the 72.4% norm at the National level and 65.8% at the State level, it fell woefully short of the program goal of 95% plus.

In parallel, the Kannada teachers in 10 randomly selected schools were quizzed about the feasibility and the time needed for coaching a typical class of 20 students lacking this skill to an extent they can read Kannada as prescribed. The responses were near unanimous: every one of them said they could do it provided the kids were under their total control and that this would be their only assignment. The time indicted varied from two to six weeks at the maximum. A pilot program was run in 40 plus schools with an assigned teacher – brought from outside the system in some of them – to take responsibility for this task. This met with limited success though no correlation could be established between the success rate and the causative factors. The only indication was that wherever the person in charge was able to elicit a positive response from the kids in his charge, the results were up to the expectations. Since the distinguishing characteristic of such a successful resource person could not be established it made the entire process difficult to define and replicate.

Two questions popped up at this stage: how does one make a student want to put in the desired effort and how does one ensure he/ she does it till the skill is acquired? It was decided to address these two issues through an appropriately designed pilot program in one of our schools.

The concept behind such a program is that reading fluency is a skill, needing practice for mastering. It was felt that roughly 30 hours of reading spread over a month under controlled circumstances could be tried out in the first phase. The contours of the program evolved along the following lines.

Prior to the commencement, the kids identified for the purpose are given a briefing. The message at this time is to include the following:

Not being able to read own language at this stage is unacceptable

This is perhaps the last chance for them to acquire this skill before they move on to High School, since there will be no more interventions of this type.

If and when they commit themselves for a period of 30 days, there is a high probability that they could acquire this vital life skill- something that they have been unable to get so far in spite of spending years. (Data from successful camps are shown here to prove this point.)

 The practice sessions are to take place in the school premises- during the working hours wherever feasible. They should be of one-hour duration, six days a week for five weeks- no break permitted on any grounds, neither are changes in timings. The theoretical basis for the ‘no break’ rule is that the repetitive prodding for the right word- described below- should take place at such a rate that does not allow the memory of the last episode to lapse. Further the entire regimen that ensures strict observance of discipline plays a key role in pre-disposing the child to success. We will revert back to this factor again later.

Learning is enabled from a peer rather than from a ‘teacher’. In fact, no teaching takes place in this interaction. Kids are known to prefer practicing a skill in the company of their peers; enough has been written about the advantage of learning with a non-threatening support system in an alternate environment, where the one at home/school has failed.

The learner student is paired with another who has the required skill during the session. Both are given identical reading material of appropriate level. The learner is asked to try reading the text. Whenever he comes to a stop, the mentor student is required to read out the word loudly. This intervention should happen after the learner has made an effort to read and not later than 2/3 seconds after the attempt, in case he/she fails. The time delay is designed is to ensure the learner is not frustrated due to persistent failures and keep a steady pace of reading going. The entire process involves three steps: effort to read, hear the correct word in case of failure and read it correctly this time while observing it ‘visually’. An association between these is thus brought about in the mind of the learner, which is bound to last for some time. If the practice sessions are frequent enough, difficult words will recur to an extent that they get registered permanently.

A Facilitator will oversee the process and ensure compliance to the above. He/ she will not intervene in the process in the role of a teacher.

The anticipated success of the venture is no doubt built on the above process and its finer details to some extent. However the factor that plays a much larger and more effective role is the macro -message built into it. This is the incidental acquisition of the vital non-cognitive skills that go to differentiate a successful learner from the rest. These are perseverance, determination and grit required to acquire a skill or knowledge *(2). Once a kid agrees to submit himself/ herself to a strict regimen as described above, he/ she is already pre-disposed towards success.

To put the above to test, a Pilot was run in a school at Hosadurga with 13 students. These were what one would call as ‘down and out’ kids who besides having huge skill gaps also tend to skip classes frequently and are not known to evince great interest in learning. After a briefing for a day as prescribed, a camp was run from 31st Aug to 5th Oct; this period incidentally included three major festival holidays. It ran with total attendance on all weekdays without a break; the kids were showing unprecedented enthusiasm and a sense of pride in their progressively increasing level of competence. At the end of the period, 10 of them passed the standard test for Level 2 reading; two acquired it after an extension of the program by two more weeks. The success rate was indeed a significant improvement on our past experiences.

A second phase of the program was initiated during Oct in two clusters: 28 schools with 283 kids in Kanakapura and 15 schools with 223 kids in Hoskote. Again the schedule coincided with the mid-term holidays and three major festivals of the season. Notwithstanding this, the attendance in both centers has been near total.

Results from this phase show that the improvement gained in a month far outpaces that obtained in our earlier efforts. During 2011-12, a total of 3789 students studying in 7th Std in 136 schools of KP and Hoskote Blocks were taken up for remedial action using conventional techniques. At start, the number of students who did not possess the prescribed reading skill was 1091. During the course of ten months, this came down by 737, the rate of attrition working out to about 8 % per month. Under the current pilot program in the same two blocks, 506 students lacking the skill from 5th to 7th Stds were taken up; the reduction obtained during the stipulated 30 days is 327 amounting to 65%, a significant increase over the earlier figure of 8% in the same period. The program is now being extended to cover all 7th Std students in Sikshana schools by Jan ’13.

To complete the process, an analysis of the students who failed to acquire the skill has already been taken up; once the causes are identified, a remedial program to cover these kids will be placed in position at the end of which they will qualify for a second attempt under the present program. The aim continues to be that every kid passing out of 7th Std- barring those with severe disabilities- possesses the prescribed reading skill by the end of the current academic year.

The issue here is however not the efficacy per-se of the adopted learning process. It is about the role of non-cognitive skills and their relevance to enhancement of learning levels through controlled processes. Once this is established as expected, Sikshana will have a powerful tool to address other skill gaps too in a similar manner and will be in a position to aim at their ‘near total’ acquisition.

E S Ramamurthy

Note:  *(1) / (2)  “ How Children Succeed”– Paul Tough, HMH Publications

 

Tooley and his Caricatures

September 24, 2012

James Tooley is well known for his book ” A Beautiful Tree” . In fact the publication is one of the most widely quoted by all those who stand for privatization of the public schools. One of the underlying themes of his thesis is the overwhelming apathy of the teachers in the system vis-a-vis those in the private stream. A close reading of the book will show to anyone how many schools and teachers he had worked with and for how long before he reached his conclusions. I have no comment to make on his acquired expertise; I could only offer my credentials in this context: I cover routinely more than 1200 schools and interact with 6000 plus teachers individually and in groups. Based on this, I find that the scenario in the  field is nothing like what it is made out to be- in books of this type and/or the media.

The dedication most teachers in the public schools show to their work is really amazing, especially when seen in the light of the extremely frustrating and negative environment in which they operate. Showing individual attention to the weak kids and making home visits in the evenings or the weekends are a routine part of their professional lives and schedules. They get very little credit for all that they do even from the society, let alone the media. I thought I should break this tradition of denigrating them with very little data and no justification.

I would like to narrate two specific anecdotes, which came my way during the course of just one week. The High School program of Sikshana focusses on the so-called weak students in 10th Std and getting them to pass the final examinations. Kiran (Name changed) is one such kid whom I came across in the corridors of a  Government High School near Ramanagaram; he was  waiting to get into a classroom. On queried he said he had failed in the examinations of last year and he is going through schooling in 10th a second time. That surprised me since there is no such provision for readmission of a failed student in the school; in the normal course he is supposed to prepare himself on his own and reappear as a private candidate at the next available opportunity. We talked to the teacher in charge of 10th and he had an interesting story for us.

Kiran is the younger of the two sons in the family; his father trades in vegetables in the local market making a decent income. He wanted his two sons to study well and aspire for a better career than his own. Unfortunately his first son showed no interest in studies dropping out after completing 9th; he has since joined his father in the market. Kiran showed similar inclinations until last year; though bright enough to complete schooling with minimal effort he was irregular in attendance missing classes in spite of personal attention and home visits by his Teacher and ended up with an F Grade in the final examinations. In the following weeks, he started visiting the market with his father and brother. Soon he started realizing how tough real life is and how limited the scope for his advancement would be in the absence of good education. He promptly came back to the school and pleaded with the school to take him back and coach him to pass 10th. The Teacher, who was in charge of his class earlier, responded to his plea. Breaking the rules of the Department, he re-admitted the boy unofficially taking him back in his class. Since he was not on the rolls of the school, none of the facilities offered by the state could be made available to him. The Teacher is presently bearing out of his own pocket all expenses that Kiran could not afford so that he does not have to drop out for economic reasons. Both the boy and the Teacher are convinced that they would make it successfully in Mar 13!  The grit and determination Kiran showed while talking to us was truly amazing! All the credit goes to his Teacher who had shown exemplary dedication to his work- at some risk to his own career. (The reason for blocking the name of the student, school and the teacher would by this time be obvious).

Incidentally, the students have to pay a fee for the final examinations – which some of them do not afford. It is routine practice in every Government school for the class teachers to bear this expense from their own resources- even in cases where the student’s performance is so low as not to merit the attempt. This is in stark comparison with private schools where ‘weak’ students are invariably shown the door with a Transfer Certificate!

This difference in approach was even more evident from the second anecdote in a High School near Hubli. We were discussing the possibility of ensuring a 100% pass in the final examinations of ’13. The talk turned to the performance of last year; they had four students failing at the end. In all these cases, the HM had a valid reason for withholding the admission ticket; the students were irregular in attendance and did not meet the minimum stipulated requirements. This would have got the school a 100% pass rate and fetched him laurels. This is in fact what every private school invariably does to ensure good results. The HM said that turning them away may end up in their dropping away for good; on the other hand, if they are allowed to take a chance, they may pass in a few subjects making it easy to get through the remaining ones in a second attempt. It is an amazingly humane approach to the problem; here the HM is placing the welfare of the student over his own! A comparison with schools in other streams here too becomes inevitable.

One could justifiably say that two anecdotes do not make a point; but then I do not see more evidence in Tooley’s book either. Both assertions deserve a dispassionate and independent study; in the meanwhile damning all the teachers in Government schools should come to a stop. That is the least we could do to restore a balance in this highly unequal debate.

E S Ramamurthy

 

A Lot to Learn from Finland

December 26, 2011
You may be surprised to see a blog from me on the education system in- of all countries- Finland. This is a country whose success story in evolving an admirable public education system really sets you thinking about all that we are doing here, and more importantly on what we ought to be doing.
A Few Facts:  
More than 99% of the relevant age group successfully complete compulsory basic education, about 95% continue their education in upper secondary schools or in the 10th grade of the basic school, and 90% of those starting upper secondary school eventually receive their school leaving certification, providing access to tertiary education. Two thirds of those enrol either in academic universities or professionally oriented polytechnics.
According to recent global education indicators, only 2% of Finnish expenditure on educational institutions is from private sources compared to an OECD average of 13%.
Finland had one of the smallest performance variations between schools; 5% against a OECD average of 33%. In the 2006 PISA survey, Finland maintained its high performance in all assessed areas of student achievement. In science, the main focus of the survey, Finnish students outperformed their peers in all the 56 countries studied.
The Features of the Finnish education system
Explaining either success or failure of any educational system is difficult. What students learn in schools is, in fact, a result of a complex set of factors – most of them beyond real control of school or teachers. Finland is not an exception. The culture of Finland and ethnic characteristics of its people play a role in how education system operates. It is impossible to give a precise answer to the question of why Finland is doing well in education. This analysis is hence restricted to the education policies that Finland has adopted to raise student achievement.
(i) Same comprehensive basic school for all
All Finnish children start their compulsory nine-year comprehensive basic schooling once they become seven years old. Normally, class-based primary school lasts six years followed by three-year lower secondary school, although the new law allows some variation. Today it is widely recognized that the six-year primary school experience provides the cornerstone for high quality education for all Finnish citizens. It is seen that investment in primary education as children learn basic knowledge and skills and adopt attitudes of lifelong learning pay off in later grades through better aptitude and learning skills, as well as through positive overall outcomes.
All basic school teachers must hold a Masters degree to become permanently employed. Primary school teacher preparation was converted from a three-year program at teachers’ colleges to four- or five-year university programs in the late 1970s. Hence, most primary school teachers today possess higher university degrees.
The Finnish comprehensive school is a formal and fully publicly financed system and also, as ‘a matter of pedagogical philosophy and practice’. Well- equipped schools are typically small with class sizes ranging from 20 – 30 students. Primary schools (grades 1 to 6) typically have fewer than 300 pupils and class sizes are, by international standards, average or below.
Because most Finnish schools are small, they often forge close educational communities of teachers and pupils. Most teachers in primary schools are highly educated and continually update their professional knowledge and skills. Curriculum reform has made primary schools a place where play and learning are combined with alternative pedagogical approaches to help children master basic academic knowledge and skills. Many primary schools therefore have become learning and caring communities rather than merely instructional institutions that prepare pupils for the next level of schooling.
The fact that all children enroll in identical comprehensive schools regardless of their socioeconomic background or personal abilities and characteristics has resulted a system where schools and classrooms are heterogeneous in terms of pupil profiles and diverse in terms of educational needs and expectations. All students receive a free, two-course warm meal daily, free health care, transportation, learning materials, and counseling in their own schools.
Finnish children start compulsory schooling one to three years later than do children in most other nations. This suggests that Finnish pupils learn relatively better within a shorter time, compared to their international peers. Finnish education policy has never compromised the principle of extended childhood at the expense of increasing time devoted to formal education.
(ii) Well-trained teachers in primary school
In Finnish society, the teaching profession has always enjoyed great public respect and appreciation. Parents trust teachers as professionals who know what is best for their children. Teachers therefore have considerable classroom independence in selecting most appropriate pedagogical methods. Consequently, primary schools are quite independent in designing their own curriculum, teaching and learning arrangements, and in using public funds. Classroom teaching is considered an independent, high status profession that attracts some of the best secondary school graduates. Indeed, only about 10 % of some 6 000 applicants are accepted annually to the Faculties of Education within Finnish universities. This implies that university teacher education departments can select some of the nation’s best students from among top scorers on university entrance examinations.
Most importantly, however, a Masters degree guarantees access to post-graduate studies made widely available in most Finnish universities today. Many teachers, especially in primary schools, seize the opportunity of continuing their academic studies. During the past decade, Finnish schools have noted an upsurge in school principals and teachers possessing a PhD in education.
In international comparisons, Finnish teacher education programs are distinguished by their depth and scope. The balance between the theoretical and practical in these programs helps young teachers master various teaching methods as well as the science of effective teaching and learning.
Finnish teachers are conscious, critical consumers of professional development and in- service training services. Just as the professional level of the teaching cadre has increased over the past two decades, so has the quality of teacher professional development support. Most compulsory, traditional in-service training has disappeared. In its place are school- or municipality-based longer-term programs and professional development opportunities. Continuous upgrading of teachers’ pedagogical professionalism has become a right rather than an obligation.
(iii) Intelligent accountability
Finland has not followed the global accountability movement in education that assumes that making schools and teachers more accountable for their performance is the key to raising student achievement. Traditionally, evaluation of student outcomes has been the responsibility of each Finnish teacher and school. The only standardized, high-stakes assessment is the Matriculation Examination at the end of general upper secondary school, before students enter tertiary education. Prior to this culminating examination, no external tests are either required or imposed on Finnish classrooms.
As a consequence of decentralized education management and increased school autonomy, education authorities and political leaders have been made accountable for their decisions making implementation of policies possible. This has created a practice of reciprocal accountability in education system management where schools are increasingly accountable for learning outcomes and education authorities are held accountable to schools for making expected outcomes possible. Flexible accountability has had a major positive impact on teaching and, hence, on student learning. All assessment of student learning is based on teacher-made tests, rather than standardized external tests. By fifth grade, Finnish pupils no longer receive numerical grades that would enable directly comparing pupils with one another. In fact, grades are prohibited by law. Only descriptive assessments and feedback are employed.
Primary school, particularly, is, to a large extent, a ‘testing-free zone’ reserved for learning to know, to do, and to sustain natural curiosity. Teachers also experience more genuine freedom in curriculum planning; they do not need to focus on annual tests or exams. Increased teacher and school autonomy has led to a situation where schools can not only arrange teaching according to their optimal resources, but allocate teaching time within the national curriculum framework differently from school to school. This is rarely possible in more rigid and test-heavy education systems.
The focus of teaching in Finland is typically on learning, rather than on preparing students for tests. Different teaching methods are commonly employed throughout the school system. New innovations are readily accepted by teachers, if they are regarded as appropriate for promoting student learning. Stress and anxiety among pupils and teachers is not as common as it is within education systems having comparatively more intensive accountability structures.
(iv) Culture of trust
Much of what has been previously noted is only possible when parents, students, and authorities genuinely trust teachers and schools. It is necessary to realize that the Finnish education system was highly centralized and remained centrally controlled until 1985. A dense network of rules and orders regulated the daily work of teachers. The gradual shift toward trusting schools and teachers began in the 1980s, when major phases of the reform agenda were initiated in the education system. In the early 1990s, the era of a trust-based school culture formally started in Finland.
The culture of trust simply means that education authorities and political leaders believe that teachers, together with principals, parents and their communities, know how to provide the best possible education for their children and youth.
The culture of trust can only flourish in an environment that is built upon good governance and close-to-zero corruption. Tellingly, Finland also performs well in international good-governance rankings by Transparency International. Public institutions generally enjoy high public trust and regard in Finland. Trusting schools and teachers is therefore a natural consequence of a generally well-functioning civil society.
School improvement emerged in Finland as a consequence of this new trust. Each school could design its own change strategy with mission statements, vision and implementation methodologies, and schedules. This dimension of trust has played the most significant role in propelling Finland ahead of  many other nations.
(v) Distributed moral leadership
Education reform and development in Finland has been based on the continual adjustment of schooling to the changing needs of individuals and society. Governments from the political left and right have respected education as the key public service for all citizens and maintained their belief that only a highly and widely educated nation will be successful in world markets.
Sustainable educational leadership has enabled Finnish schools and teachers to concentrate on developing teaching and learning as they best see it to be needed. Leadership in education sector has increasingly followed the idea of distributed leadership, i.e. sharing responsibilities among all actors in education to achieve expected results. Rather than allocating financial resources and time to implement new reforms repeatedly, teachers in Finland have been given professional freedom to develop pedagogical knowledge and skills related to their individual needs.
In education systems that undergo wave after wave of reforms, frequent emphasis often is on implementation and consolidation of externally designed changes. The main result is often frustration and resistance to change rather than desire to improve schools. In Finland, however, education policies have increasingly invited schools to design their own development plans and implementation strategies based on the national curriculum and policy frameworks and oversight systems. These frameworks serve as guiding principles for municipalities and schools in delivering education services to their members.
In conclusion, it is not a surprise that a country which has followed the above tenets comes up on the top when assessed for learning outcomes. India is not Finland; and we are way away in the Corruption indices; this precludes many of the steps from being adopted here as they are. However there is a lot that we could still learn from them.
Many of the above steps are outside the scope of Sikshana intervention too; still we have followed strictly, in whatever we do, their basic concept: that teachers, together with principals, parents and their communities, know how to provide the best possible education for their children. We are also proud that the Mission Goal of Sikshana announced in the public domain a decade back states that the Public Education System should be built around this belief.
E S Ramamurthy
(I acknowledge with thanks Mr Pasi Sahlberg for most of the above content that pertains to the Finnish Education System) )

The Much Reviled Examination System

October 23, 2009

Emperor’s Clothes
Did you see them?

During the recent coaching sessions that we conducted for the 10th Std students, we came across a serious issue. In English, some kids could barely copy a sentence without errors; in Maths, they could not even multiply or divide numbers. The teachers we brought in were extremely competent and well versed with the vagaries of the secondary education system and the exams conducted under it. After a preliminary assessment on the first day, they came and asked me a sensitive question: would you want these kids to be taught English and Maths or do you want them to be coached just to pass the examinations! ( My Response is given below at the end of the post)

The reason why this choice came up is simple: one can pass the exams without knowing either even to sub-minimal levels. This has a lot to do with the way the questions were normally framed until last year. In English, 30% of the marks can be had without writing a sentence in the language, while another 15 can be had if one can write one sentence, errors permitted; you do not have to score the mandatory 35, since with the moderation permitted even 25 should be enough. The scene is no better in Maths. And what did it produce? Kids who fared so badly at the next stage – which is the PUC exams – that the pass rates as well as their overall competence at this point became the center of attention.

The State responded to this during the current academic year by tightening the system in Tenth through introduction of more ‘qualitative’ questions that call for ‘written’ answers, a skill that the kids are poorly equipped to handle as now. This may solve the problem faced at the PUC level, but will most certainly create new ones in 10th. Belatedly it struck some one in the hierarchy that the teachers themselves will need re-training to face this change ; this is just being organized in Oct , half way through the academic year. It is anyone’s guess when and whether the kids will have time left to get familiar with the new pattern in the exams and perform adequately.

While all this is happening, no one is asking the most obvious question: how did such students get through the past nine years of academic stint? Were there no tests or checks on the way laid down by the system? Let us look at what the latter stipulates :

From 1 to 4th Stds: Tests to be conducted periodically to check the acquisition of specific academic skills, parents to be informed of the progress through skill charts- Remedial action taken for the lagging students until they acquire them

5 to 10 Stds: Exams every Semester with Grades ; remedial action as above mandatory.

The unique feature of this system is that all exams up to 10th are at the school level and no detention is permitted till 8th Grade. While some provisions exist for such penal action on extreme grounds such as prolonged absence in 9/10th Stds , even these are rarely used. As a result, the exams are rarely taken seriously by the schools and the kids. Worse still, a kid who gives a blank answer paper and gets 0 as a score is equated with another who tries and gets 29 , both being classified as having obtained Grade C in the exams; of course both go on to the next level.

It is in the first year of High School, that the teachers feel the real pinch from this system: they get students with near zero skills from primary schools and are still held responsible for getting them to pass the open Board Exams in the 10th Std. Incidentally, this is the first time any kid under this system gets exposed to an external assessment. Their lack of skills would normally have gone unnoticed even at this point; the snag was with the PUC exams that the students who pass 10th have to take, if and when they choose to do so. Here, they have to compete with students from other streams and show their merit; it is the poor performance of these students that made the government to tighten up the screening process at 10th, as above.

In the meanwhile, the Govt would prefer to think that the situation is fine and improving – fed with manufactured numbers such as 75 % pass in 7th, 65% in 10th and increasing scores every year . While all these figures do look impressive, especially when compared to those from other states, one should pause to ask: what are they really worth?

Going through nine years of schooling without an effective system of checks and balances looks to me like playing soccer without goal posts or cricket without stumps. I have dealt personally with tens of thousands of kids; I found that at least all those who would like to break out of their present socio-economic barriers feel the same. There are plenty of them out there in the field and they deserve a break. I have always been feeling that we have so far tapped about 15% of the population to achieve the remarkable progress that we see to day in the country; to go any further, we need to reach the next block of kids. The potential candidates for this are there in the Public Education System; it is for us to identify and provide them with the window of opportunity that they badly need.

The current situation reminds me of the story of the Emperor and his missing clothes. He is convinced he has them on ; unfortunately, the ‘boy’ to tell him the truth is missing…

Ramamurthy

PS : Now to the promised response from me. I told them honestly- ” You can assess , categorize them into two groups and proceed accordingly: the marginal one may be taught the subjects so that they really acquire the skills; and the other could be coached and pushed through the exams” . Considering that we started this program in September, we cannot aim much higher , can we?