Why it is that public education systems are not giving the desired results in moulding young minds into what would make them better citizens of tomorrow? Does the fault lie with the administrators, the school teachers or in the very basic infrastructure and values on which society stands today? Whatever the case may be, one factor is constant – that public school education is facing challenges that are becoming increasingly difficult to overcome. The solution rests on a complete overhaul regardless of which angle the issues are being looked at.
Here are some issues that public education is facing today mainly seen from the perspectives of the students, parents, lawmakers and educators.
- Poverty – Strange as it may sound in today’s prosperous world where developing countries rule the roost, poverty is considered to be the single largest factor in the declining standards of public education. Studies have shown that students from families that live below the poverty line make up the bulk of enrolment in public schools as they can ill afford to take admission in well heeled private schools. Further students with insufficient sleep or food are less likely to bloom to their full potential in academics. This is one reason for high drop-outs in public school from amongst the “below poverty line segment”. There is always an effort made by public school authorities to supplement student needs of bare essentials but what is provided is never enough. The spread is so thin that it hardly makes a difference.
- Family environment – Prevailing family environment at home often plays a crucial role in the ability of teachers to impart lessons and is acknowledged to impact the propensity of students to absorb what is being taught. Issues related to divorce, single parents, domestic violence and poverty are problems that cannot be simply wished away once a student reaches school. They carry the issues to the classroom and are therefore not able to focus on the lessons. Often administrators and teachers do have counselling sessions with parents but their hands are tied when they do not receive similar cooperation from the other side.
This problem is faced at every level of education from primary to advanced standards. Take the case of a student who has enrolled in diploma of nursing programme after completing public school. He/she can hardly be expected to make any headway if there are problems at home.
- Technology – This problem is completely different from those analysed till now. Children from a very young age become very tech savvy and are complete at home with the latest technologies and gadgets. It so happens frequently in public schools that teachers are unable to keep pace with this trend and therefore find it difficult to blend in technology with education. Given this scenario, it becomes almost impossible to hold on to the attention of students to offer an optimised learning experience. Moreover, public schools that are financially strapped for funds find it difficult to buy the latest computers for students thus widening the gap in what they are taught and what should be taught keeping in mind the needs of modern education.
This is especially true for those opting for online courses just after passing out from school. For instance, a student wanting to join an online course in nursing at the Australian Centre of Further Education will find it very difficult if the basics of computer based education have not been taught at school.
- Size of classroom – During recession or economic downturns, the first victim of cuts in public spending is often the education system. Expansion plans are stopped while more and more students are enrolled with the result that classrooms literally are found bursting to the seams. With very low teacher student ratio, the quality of education naturally suffers a lot.
These are some of the major public education issues being faced today.