Morning Assembly at Tapkan
Each day at Tapkan Government Middle School and Tapkan Government Primary School begins with a morning assembly. It’s a sight to behold – all of the students gather at the school’s parade square and arrange themselves in neat, straight lines. They stand in attention, waiting for the command from Mr Basruddin Khan, the head-master of TGMS, who speaks through a microphone and speakers. Thanks to the sound system, all of the students, even those standing furthest away, are able to hear him clearly.
The students stand quietly, waiting for Mr Basruddin’s word. When he says “Right turn,” the students turn to their right with the precision of an army drill squad. When he says “Face front,” they do so in unison as well. Clearly, the students possess a high degree of discipline.
During the morning assembly, a PT Show is conducted where students perform synchronized physical exercises. They also perform exercises with the dumbbells and laziums. The students move at a constant rhythm, following the drum beats of the head-master. It should be noted that the dumbbells and the laziums were distributed in an extremely organized manner, with one student from each line collecting the equipment for his or her line, and then passing them down, with minimal noise.
The PT Show is followed by a morning prayer, led by four of the school’s students. After this, the students head back to their classes, line by line, quietly and orderly, ready to start the day.
When we asked Mr Basruddin why he conducts such a thorough and systematic morning assembly, he shared with us that this was all a part of instilling discipline into his students. If the students are disciplined, they pay more attention in class, study harder, and are also easier for the teachers to manage.
He also felt that the morning assembly is especially important as it is the beginning of a new day for the students, and as such, it sets the tone. “If the day starts well, then the rest of the day will go well too,” he said.
Changes made by the Head-master
The well-executed morning assembly can be attributed to Mr Basruddin, who joined the school in July 2013. When he joined Tapkan, he felt that there was a need to raise the academic excellence in the school, and one of the ways he did so is through the assembly. A
man with a reputation for being smart, honest and passionate about education, he has made changes to Tapkan with the hope that one day, it will be as good as a private school.
One of the reasons parents do not sent their children to government schools, he shared, was that they feel that these schools have poor standards. They do not see a reason to send their children because they feel that what they are learning is insignificant and that the school adds no value. By improving the school, he hopes to change this perception.
Friendly competition with other schools
Another change introduced by Mr Basruddin is academic competitions with neighbouring schools. He worked with 4 other head-masters, and once a month, they hold a friendly competition amongst themselves, where students from their schools come together to test their academic mettle in subjects such as Mathematics, English and Science. The best students win a prize and bring honour to their schools.
These initiatives create an incentive for the schools to raise their academic standards. It encourages the students to study harder, and the teachers to teach better as well.
Mr Basruddin told us that turning his ideas into reality has not been without its difficulties. Initially, he faced resistance from teachers in the school, who viewed the changes as unnecessary. They felt that they were being burdened with extra work. However, over time, most of the teachers have seen the encouraging results of the changes, and are beginning to change their point of view.
Raising the bar
Mr Basruddin has high hopes for Tapkan. He wants to work together with more head-masters to increase the number of schools participating in the academic competitions to 15. He also wishes to increase the attendance of the school from 600 to 1000. With his strong focus on discipline and academic excellence, we’re certain that he will be able to achieve his goals.
All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.
With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.