The other day my children were talking to their friends from their previous school. They told me that the school where they were studying earlier would now have children from lower economic strata studying alongside with the other children.
I was then discussing this aspect with my husband. We were wondering how this would work out. On the positive side, the under-privileged children would get access to all the facilities hitherto which they could only dream of. Secondly, the standard of teaching would be very different from what they were used to. Better teachers and better teaching methods. The children from affluent background can interact with these children and in the process get to understand their lifestyle and their problems and aspirations better.
But on the other hand there would be problems too. Integration would require these children as well as the regular school children to make a lot more adjustments as the environment that each one comes from will be totally different. It can easily lead to two opposite groups where one feels superior and the other inferior. Teachers also need to understand and relate to these students at an emotional level. Imagine the immense pressure the children would face when they interact with the affluent children, be it with their dress, or something as small as pencil box, shoe and various other things which would trigger a lot emotional upheaval in these little minds. Wouldn't it be a traumatic experience for children coming from a lower economic strata?
In this context, I feel instead of uprooting students and putting them into alien environment all private schools should adopt government schools in their vicinity and this should be made mandatory. Teachers then from private schools should go in batches and teach in these government school on a continual basis. This would not only enhance the quality of education for the children but will also give the teachers an entirely new perspective which they in turn can use in their teaching. Further, teachers of government schools (who I hear are completely deprived of new training methods) can also be given training by the private schools so that over a period of time the government schools can bridge the existing gap.
The government schools also suffer from lack of infrastructure be it in library, sports or in the laboratory. For extra curricular, activities these children can be taken to the private schools where they can use the facilities there once or twice a week. Same way library can be built in the government schools by involving children of private schools to donate books. These children can also be taken to interact with the other children which in the long run will break the chasm.
Hopefully this would then lead to better integration than displacing children from their natural surroundings. Making the existing schools stronger should be the aim of the Education Ministry. Are you listening, Ministers of Education?