Published: 21st January 2019
Should English medium schools be merged with those teaching in vernacular medium to raise the standard of education?
Rationalisation and merging of schools is a compulsion in the context of migration of students to English medium schools.
Don’t get me wrong: school is good and all, but school is way too slow for me. Like, super slow. So, I didn’t want to go. I wanted to learn on my own with real-life experiences
— Lil Uzi Vert (b. 1994), an American rapper, singer and songwriter
Not all are so dismissive about schools. For most, school is a reliable anchor to which they cling as long as they can. But lately, schools following vernacular medium are experiencing ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ (ENS). To the uninitiated, it may be explained that moving out from their families’ house is generally a normal and healthy event. The symptoms of ENS often go unrecognised. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents since the departure of their children from ‘the nest’ leads to adjustments in parents’ lives. While Empty Nest Syndrome is something that Indian parents have been known to grapple with for ages — cutting across generations and cultures — parents in the West have rarely had feelings in this regard.
Lately, as students are migrating from vernacular language medium schools to English medium schools, there is a move to merge schools. This is in the interest of keeping schools alive, as well as ensuring that the students get the best standard of education that is available to them.
The question of whether this education is in a regional language or in English has been up for debate and depending on where you come from and what your beliefs are, you’ll probably end up on one of two sides. In the process, some have to shift from neighbourhood schools to the merged schools located at a longer distance as highlighted in the following report.
In a media report titled ‘Consent of parents, school panel must before the merger of schools in Jharkhand’, according to the Principal Secretary of School Education, primary schools will be merged only if parents and the school managing committee are willing to allow this merger to take place.
This is a rare departure from the usual practice of government officials making decisions and foisting it on the public — consent or otherwise. However, as democratic as the decision has sounded, there have been a fair share of people who have had an issue with it.
Facing criticism for the decision to merge schools, the Jharkhand government has now decided to seek consent from parents before merging a primary school with a nearby larger school located beyond a distance of 1 km. Primary schools will be merged only if parents and the school managing committee are willing. “Children studying in primary schools will be shifted to larger schools located beyond a distance of 1 kilometre only if the parents of 50 per cent of the students are willing. The consent of the school management committee will also be mandatory,” said the Principal Secretary. More than 6,000 primary and middle schools have been merged in the past two academic sessions while the process of merging 6,466 more middle schools is still on. Speaking about the 2,000 schools which are about to be merged, he said that the parents would be reimbursed for their travel expenses if they are willing to bring children to schools beyond 1 kilometre. Now, this is a bit of a sticky situation for parents. Will they or won’t they agree? Will practicality prevail or will emotion take over?
All this raises the question of the need to seek consensus. Rationalisation and merging of schools is a compulsion in the context of migration of students to English medium schools. There have been rare instances where schools have been kept open even for one student with multiple teachers on the payroll. Several media reports of how schools across Karnataka and other Indian states have just one teacher and a few students on their rolls have been forthcoming in recent times. While this has painted a worrisome picture for the government’s public education sector, perhaps the answer to this question lies entirely elsewhere. One who pays the piper has the right to call the tune, especially when public funds are involved. Should schools be run to protect the in-situ jobs of teachers or the tenure of management committees?