Last two years, every Indian who has access to TV has been hearing our PM talking in various forums and platforms. The single point that he hammers every time is that the country’s strength and youth and he want to capitalize on that. He is the first ever Prime Minister in our country to talk so much sensibly on the strength of youth vis-à-vis strength of the country itself. He bets on it and he is banking on this electorate. But what next?
Inequality in education struck me as the most important story in India. For the most part, the poor did not have access to a good education, which forced them to fall further. Added to it, the increasing privatization of schools has made Indian education much segregated and all signs point to it getting worse because even today we do not see any signs of underprivileged class getting qualitative education or better facility to hope for a possible equality in the visible future. Government run schools are falling from bad to worse except for the occasional display of “Literacy to all” kind of stuff on the otherwise faded walls.
I won’t say nobody is benefited with government policies on this primary education, but majority is satisfied with a pair of uniform, or a few books and a mid day meal etc. But does this in any way give any kind of future those kids from the rural India is the question? The fundamental answer remains ‘NO’ from many of the quarters. As anyone with mediocre intelligence could see, successive governments for the past 65 odd years kept the subject simmering so that once in 5 years every political outfit can latch on to the subject and make a good harvest on votes. It leads many to believe that ensuring the under privileged remaining so for ages is a strategy of sorts.
The country’s government-run schools were consistently faring bad to worse and are in shambles even today. So far government run schools do not measure upto the standards and still don’t show reasonable hope of improvement for the future either. Many teachers in these govt. run schools neither measure up nor show up and hardly half of them do any real teaching. Bribery and nepotism appears to be two big factors in recruiting teachers to up keeping to administration of such schools. While majority of the teachers look for their pay cheques others look for every possible excuses for things not falling in place.
Fortunately for teachers lack of adequate infrastructure in these schools came as a good excuse to camouflage their own deficiencies. Their standard answer will always remain – “we have been repeatedly saying but government is not heeding to our needs”.
As I get to see more and more Village schools, I am shocked and ashamed to see certain procedures they have adopted. Just see the kids attending these schools. Majority of them come very shabbily clad clothes, without a pair of shoes or many of them not even slippers – yes I know that their parents can’t afford. But then a government that bank on these generation as the country’s future cannot afford either. But why is it not done then? A school with hardly 40 kids, 3 of them are probably from a cast considered forward. What does your government do? For those 3 kids they cant afford to give the cheap uniform what they provide others. What else can be height of apathy? From that tender age, you the ruler and you the administration start separating the future generation on various lines of cast, creed and religion. Nowhere is seen the criterion of economic backwardness.
Whatever reasons you may put forward, however hard you may debate, does ANYONE in this country believe that they can ever tick away English as a foreign language? Never. When this is a fact known to every tom, dick and harry what stop them from – at least – keeping English as a last language from the very primary class? What can we expect of these kids, even if a very few of them make it to a city school after their primary class? They will start developing inferiority complex when they have to face the better-bred kids from those better schools. How do you justify the apathy shown towards the schools run by them years after years and raising the quota and reservation, which effectively killed the skill, potential and future of education, generations and thereby the country itself.
Privatisation of schools came at a wrong time in India, I believe. We were not grown or matured enough to handle the private and public schools with deserving merits. So, effectively privatization of schools simply meant that education simply commercialized and gave birth to the inequality in education that is what we see today all around.
Today those who can pay hefty fees get an education worth calling education. Rest of them are schools where there is nothing to entice the kids to go to school. At the end the products churned out of these institutions will always need crutches (reservation) to live their remaining life. Or they turn out be outcasts of the society.
So effectively, the government who should be standing for equality among its populace has divided the same populace into layers where there are absolute poor ones to absolute rich ones. In between several layers and gaps between the layers kept increasing. Now, the gap is too big between the lowest rung to highest. But at the same time unless you have a schooling system where several social strata can live and learn together, this gap will keep increasing.
Before it is too late, I personally feel that the government has a huge job in their hands.
- Uplift the schools and surroundings. Also include play equipments so that the kids wish to make it to school even if they don’t eat.
- Provide them with full & quality uniform which means including shoes, pair of socks.
- Appoint well-trained & adequate teachers for whom teaching should be a passion rather than one whose loyalty is from pay date to pay date.
- Together the teachers and kids and their parents should be given a feeling that there is something to education much more than the lousy mid-day meal.
- Provide them with latest education tools, kits etc. so that they too can lift themselves to compete with those from affluent families and posh areas.
You have harness the potential in a proper and timely manner; otherwise the same potential can turn out to be your Pain in he Bottom sooner than later.
Madhu K. Nair [29/2/2016]