School Education: Shoudn’t We Meet the Challenge?

School education in the state of Andhra Pradesh has been more or less completely sucked into the education market. The ones which are outside the market are only those run by the government and the Christian Missionary and other Religious organizations. We need not talk about the government schools and its other educational establishments. They are run down, poorly provided and the morale of the teachers in them is at its lowest. So much so only those who cannot afford to pay even the cheapest private school’s monthly tuition fee admit their children in them. The Missionary/Religious organization schools have their way of functioning. They have good campuses. Probably good resources as well.  But the pedagogy and the teaching-learning practices in those schools are far from satisfactory.

As a consequence, education which is supposed to be a social and economic leveller is in fact perpetuating, and widening the divide.

The children of the privileged and rich go to good, well-endowed, and high-fee charging schools. Most of them look like multi-brand retail malls and multiplexes. They look at school education as a multi-crore market. They hire Public Relations Officers and Business Development Executives to help them penetrate the market. They have high ad spend for branding. They market themselves to High Net-worth Parents. They have different business models. Some of them adopt franchisee model. They outsource some services such as sanitation, transport, O & M. In their board rooms, parents and children are looked at as consumers; they look upon themselves as service providers; teachers as vendors of their services to the school like any other supplier such as the ones who bring in printing and stationery, uniforms, chalk pieces, sports equipment, etc.

Children of the poor and underprivileged attend schools run by either government or charitable institutions. Most of the Charitable institutions, however, are run more or less like government institutions. They are of low quality. They lack forward looking teaching-learning practices, their teachers have no access to modern methods of teaching and training, and their skills are not regularly updated. They are keeping children in school who otherwise have been shut out of a place of learning by the merciless education market. That, of course, is no mean contribution to the cause of education.

Government is in school education only notionally. Its space is shrinking year after year. Privileged are looking for expensive private schools. The underprivileged are also looking for private schools with ‘affordable’ fee structure. Low end inexpensive schools give the underprivileged parents an illusion that their children are in the modern and meaningful education system. These schools strain to be look-alike cheaper versions of the high-end schools. Just like the imitation jewellery, for instance. They make children wear a uniform; a tie; a pair of shoes; and labour to make them speak some sort of English. Untrained/undertrained as well as underpaid teaching faculty, inadequately supervised teaching-learning practices are common in these schools.

What is horrifying is that this divide is growing rapidly. Right to Education Act which is supposed to make private schools give access to underprivileged children so far has not shown any promise. Many think that it is unlikely to significantly help bridge the ever growing gap.

Can there not be socially owned and funded, but professionally managed good quality schools which can debunk the notion of the inevitability of ‘marketization’ of school education? Need a good school necessarily be expensive? Need an inexpensive school necessarily be of low quality?

Should we not identify this as a challenge? And should we not put together strategies to meet this challenge?

6 Responses to “School Education: Shoudn’t We Meet the Challenge?”

  1. February 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    It is certainly a great challenge, but wonder how to meet it.

    All students need to have a strong foundation irrespective of their economic background. Sheer commercialization of education is a bad omen. Government should put greater focus on providing free and quality education upto high school level to all. If there is a resource problem, funding for higher education or providing for schemes like fees reimbursement etc. may be given up. The failure of government schools is a matter of grave concern. It seems to be more a management problem rather than resources problem.

    I am told in some developed countries like UK, govt. managed and government funded schools run very well. Why are we allowing them to fail here?!

  2. March 22, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    I feel, this is no one’s responsibility. you and I (parents) should change first and take it as a challenge. Neither in corporate schools you get good knowledge nor in govt. schools.

    What u get in corporate schools is a status that your child is in such a posh school. Are Huge buildings and Interiors teaches knowledge of what??? What a child gets is only a posh stylish English (that also, if the parents speak English at their homes with the child). Children gets knowledge partly from the school and partly from the parents (if they gets time to spend with child). In some schools, there are no play grounds either or with little utilization.

    About govt. schools, every one knows, its a govt. school nothing to say.no one is there to care. They even doesn’t have minimum facilities. The teachers get UGC scales but only few teachers really feels responsible. Others do not feel as they are govt. employees and their job is fixed and permanent. weather teach or not they will get their salary. I came to know that govt teachers are getting better salary then corporate teachers. Surprising thing is most of the govt. teachers are having B.Ed and phd’s and better qualified than corporate teachers. If every parent change them selves by joining their children in govt. school and create a demand for the govt school, and if they can fight for the rights of quality education with the principals first and with the politicians, then definitely no corporate school exists. and with the fraction of money we are opting for corporate schools, we can get good and quality education for our children.

    No need to say, schools are meant for business and only for business. In that business also, we are not getting good product for the money we are paying.

    I feel, if our child to be a good human being, good in studies, extra curricular activities and with good behavior then forget about the school or the society they are living, my observations are as follows:

    1. Just spend 1 or 2 hours daily with your children, with their books and the way they are reading writing and the command over the media of language (English mostly, now a days no one joins their child in Telugu medium). I noticed my child in corporate school, by heart everything without knowing the meaning of it. IF neither of the parent have time to spend, then,don’t expect schools can do miracle..

    2. Do not teach children about status or life style. once they are in to school, and wearing uniform, no rich no poor, every one is same. school is not a social or status symbol.

    3. With the education, child should have other extra curricular activities. you can only find their field of interest, if you can spend few hours daily with them.

    4. Spend a fraction of amount per year you are spending on your children by purchasing a computer. even you can get a second hand computer for 7 to 8k with a CD Drive. get educational CD’s or search in “youtube” to teach your children about the subject topic they are not understanding. There are good audio-visuals available on every topic in youtube, either in maths, general science or anything. There are educational CD’s available for every subject and in every standard from KG to XII.

    I am practically doing this and after observing the progress, I changed my children from a corporate school and joined her in a govt school, which is offering CBSC syllabus. I am noticing my child feeling more comfortable in govt school now then in corporate school. In this way, I am saving about a lakh of rupees of my hard earned money per year and saving for her future. My child is also feeling better. I estimated one can easily save 20to 30 Lakhs, if you deposit wisely the same money in SIP or in mutual funds or take the gold worth the same amount every year. needless to say, how this amount count in her future.

    I do not agree with the concept of children in corporate schools only shine and gets good standard education. Most of the well known are from the poor background and are from the government schools. If you inculcate the spirit of education and the “need” to study, every children can be a brilliant. This is a social responsibility of parents. Children future is in parents hand first and then in the hands of their teacher or a school.

    One more thing I observed is all schools are in a same mold, Better to join children with a nearest school you are living. no need to crave for corporate school for a status symbol. You are only creating demand for the corporate school and resulting in high school fees. also transport time will be more in traffics and takes more than hour in travel itself.

    Finally, most important is, mingle with your children. Be a good friend with them. understand their needs. If one can not spend time for their children, then, what is the need for earning money? I strongly feel, this is the minimum moral responsibility of every parent.

    If you can not feel moral responsibility, no need to curse on the government or the society. Government is people and the society is the place you are living. change should come from your end then everything surrounding you changes automatically. demand only rules. create demand first. where there is a demand, the value for the product increase. if you create same demand on government schools, then government schools also shine with quality education. Parents should change first. media should promote the change.

    • March 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

      Sir, thank you very much for your response.
      What you have said is absolutely right. In my own experience I found that the greatest impediment to a child’s education is the attitude of parents.
      I wish people like you take it upon themselves to educate the parents. Most parents take school as more of a status symbol than a place for education. I know a friend who relocated from the US to Hyderabad. He joined his children in of the corporate schools. When I asked him how decided on that particular school, he gave me a very revealing answer. He told me that he checked the fee structure of different private/corporate schools. He simply chose the school which was the most expensive. In his mind, the more expensive a school is the better the education that it can offer. Simple logic.
      Many parents choose schools more or less in the same fashion. That’s the tragedy of our school education in the present day.

  3. December 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    What parents need to do to improve their kids .. agreed and accepted. But still the question is .. what and how to improve the education system is not addressed..

    1. It is not resource problem 2. Solution cannot come from teachers and educationists.. 3. Curriculum and content is not the issue. 4. System that exists CANNOT be changed. that too radically changing is almost IMPOSSIBLE. OK..

    Innovating education is the only answer..

    1. Let the system remain as it is. Because it cannot be changed. 2. Focus on the students and they need to be guided to take to right path.This can be done without the involvement of academic system. It is better to do like that way.
    3. Internet is doing this already. Encourage the students to take to learn things from On Line, and internet, you tube. It is impossible they will be spoiled by internet. In reality, if we guide them for internet they will become effective individuals.
    4. Make them to realize and become SELF RELIANT economically and otherwise. They need to be encouraged parallel to their academic learning to be self reliant..

    Mantra for the youth is SELF RELIANCE.. Youth and the Students understand and enjoy this .. Only thing they need to be guided to taste SELF RELIANT ..dr mandi

  4. November 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi Prabhakar garu,
    I completely agree with you on this. Infact, this is the same reason we started “Village Volunteering Centres” initiative as part of our Ahalya Foundation initiatives for school going children, especially the ones who are unfortunately less privileged and currently going to Government schools.

    Infact, it is the duty of Government and NGOs to make sure these kids get the right guidance and knowledge at school so they can become good citizens of the country. Our program is with a long term vision (of at least 10 years). Through this, at least, we will be able to do something, if not everything.
    http://www.ahalyafoundation.org/voluteering.htm

    Appreciate your thoughts on this topic.

    Regards,
    Siva Makutam

  5. March 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    IDEA FOR badi pilustundi

    Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

    TED talk:-
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

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