Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bridging the education gap

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?


Munjal said...

Hi Shobhana. I promised long time ago to Dhruv to write feedback to you on your articles. Today I found time to do so and one of the subject I like. Before giving me my opinion, I request you to buy "Beautiful Tree" book by James Tooley published by Penguin. It is an eye opener. The problem is different and govt.schools are not the solution due to accountability issue all over the world. It is all upto school how to manage the disparity. In real world you can't isolate that. By keeping uniform, limitation on stationary, etc. can be easily managed. We studied in mixed school though many years ago and never felt the pressure on either side.

shobhana shenoy said...

Hi Munjal,Very true. Government schools are truly run in a very pathetic manner. I find even my maids kids are enrolled in private schools even though they cannot afford it.
I will definitely read the book you suggested. Hope things will take a better turn for our younger generation

Unknown said...

It is truly very generous thoughts have been brought out here to obtain a rational education standard in our society. Equality among education cannot be obtained when schools in our society can only be categorized into two different kinds. One eyes on commercial benefits of education the other leave destiny of the children merely in the hands on teacher conscience. I don’t know how many of our Govt. Schools are really utilizing the available resources for the benefit our children, let it be, in terms of tangible and intangible resources available. Explicitly, tangible resources like maps, charts, books, sports and games articles , study tours etc, and intangible resources like teacher’s good will, knowledge and intellect, the ability to understand the children’s requirements, awareness that they are the builders of a generation. In the other side private schools are stretching out child’s intellect in the race of obtaining School’s standard. Fees of private school can touch any height in promise of their own devised curriculum and standard.

How we can bring both these diverging coordinates together? I expect only the agency can solve this issue is Govt. Now we are on formulation of our Education Act and we expect something fruitful rather than heard. At this stage, we are very badly required to set up some common authority to monitor and maintain the standards of education through out the country. Let, Govt and private schools come under its jurisdiction. Let the selling price be decided by one agency. Every thing will be all right! Remember the commendable telecom standard obtained by TRAI.

shobhana shenoy said...

Hi Manju,
Thanks for your very insightful and valuable comment. Well the disparity between have and have nots has always been the factor giving rise to so many problems. Children however being the real assets of our nation definitely need to be given atleast the basic education which is their right.

I do not know if a common authority will be the solution of bridging the gap between both as both types of institutions are at different tangents. However making both institutions accountable and justifiable on all aspects be it fees structure, teacher qualification, infrastructure,end term results by having regular, honest inspections and incorporating all the recommendations thereby made might in the long run prove to be a workable model.
But for all this to happen the govt should work quite honestly and diligently and try and make the government schools self sustained in the long run and at the same time get the private schools to be more affordable and accessible to the larger masses thereby bringing down the disparity among both.