A leading TV channel and a mega multinational have launched a campaign called 'support my school'. Do click on this link and you are greeted by titles such as girls dropping out of school because of lack of toilets or too many students all else to little. Click on the later. You will be told of a school in North Delhi, yes in our own capital city, where there are 1800 students, where roll calls are taken in the open and last for a whole hour, where teachers admit only being able to check the home work of 15 out of the 80 students in their class, where all students do not get a bench to sit own. It is nothing short of a nightmare and far from the enabling environment needed for children to bloom.
Yet all the children in this school and in hundreds like them have gained the right to education, albeit as late as 2010 when the said Act finally came into force. Children in free India had to wait sixty two years to gain this right. Speaks volumes, does it not! The state of schools is nothing short of abysmal. This is the enabling environment we give our children and hope they will bloom into great adults. But how can they, many will never finish school for no fault of theirs, and others will muddle through into mediocrity.
When will we realise that primary education is the cornerstone of any self respecting society?
Believe me, it does not take much to turn things around. We have done this at pwhy for the past 11 years. With unskilled staff and scant resources we have ensured that every child that walks into our premises remains in school and graduates with success. The magic potion if any was tons of love that would make every child believe in himself and oodles of patience to ensure that every child ultimately comes out a winner. No rocket science required. This translates into a sad reality: it seems he powers that be are not really interested in educating the poor.
Are the rich better off? Not quite if we are to go by the nightmare of recent nursery admissions. Toddlers are being rejected school after school for again not fault of theirs: no sibling in school, the wrong gender or address, no alumni parents and so on. So where is the right to education we so blatantly talk about. Every government school building carries a sign saying; no child can be denied admission. yet what is the point of stuffing schools till they strangulate and die. Classes of 80 plus is not an acceptable option. Is education is to be a constitutional right then it is time the State took matters in hand and loosened its purse strings. It is also time we all started accepting the idea of a neighborhood school for all. Government schools still have prime property often unused. Why not built spanking schools on them instead of the pitiful barracks in existence.
Private school fees are running berserk. A friend of mine recently told me that the school fees of her 5 year old amounted to 30 K a term! Primary education has become a lucrative business and the insidious privatisation of education will ring the death knell of education for the poor. True efforts like the one mentioned above are laudable, but that is not the answer. The real answer is a change in policy but we all know how high education ranks in the minds of those who rule us... our present education minister had been handed an added portfolio which seems to be taking all his time!
Millions of little children are waiting for a chance to excel, and many of them can do too! Look at our little boarding school stars who shine in their enabling school. When will all the children of India get a similar opportunity.