I am going to be outrageous today as I dare to hope that the proposed school fee hike in public schools may just be a tiny first step to the cherished dream of a common neighborhood school. Let me try and explain what I mean.
That education has become a commercial venture is sad but true. And this is across India as I learnt first hand just a few days ago. Gita who works is our home has a young daughter who lives in Calcutta with her mother. Gita nad her husband who works in the Gulf have just one dream: to give the best education possible t their only child. The child is not ready for school and for the past weeks the family has been filling forms and going through the tedious and onerous admission procedures. They have dutifully bought forms at 500 rs a piece ans completed them. They were shocked when a school told them that they had to produce the mother as she needed to be interviewed. They tried in vain to explain the situation. The nightmare is far from over and I just hope the little girl will get into a good school.
It is the word good that gets my goat!
Over the years certain schools have acquired the label good! Slowly and surreptitiously an insidious caste system evolved in what was meant to be an even playing ground, and slowly and surreptitiously the hallmark of good schools became the size of their fees, and not the quality of teachers or other such parameters. For a good school in Delhi you have to pay in thousands and more. And now with the dreaded rise the costs will become simply mind boggling. And as a parent said : we might have to pull out our children from expensive school to a cheaper one.
During the recent election campaign a politician aptly commented: Having a house in the city is beyond the reach of the middle class. If the fees of children are increased, then schools will go out of the reach of the middle class and only the children of the rich people will get education. Education is the fundamental right of children. This of course was uttered to gain political mileage but it seems to be the way things are going. Schools will soon become out of reach of the middle class and the likes of Gita and her husband who toil day and night to try and ensure their child gets the best.
Rather than the cheaper school can we not start talking of the common neighborhood school run by the state. Or is it is too infradig to think of sending your middle class child to such schools? How long will it take to some to terms with a reality that is staring us in the face. Is it not time to demand that state run schools be made into good schools, and redefine the word good once in for all!
As long as good is defined in germs of the size of fee paid, there is scant hope. Education is not better if imparted in fancy buildings. The best lessons can be learnt under a tree! By making education a commercial activity one is hijacking one's own future. If good education is allowed to percolate to the lowest level, it will usher a better society for all. This is something we seem to have forgotten.