Published: 15th March 2019
Can facilities and features bolster the education system in government schools?
There is an immediate need to upgrade government schools, and the required schemes and plans have been drawn
Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students and enthusiastic parents with high expectations — Bob Beauprez (b.1948), American politician
Discerning readers would notice that the American politician stresses on people — teachers, students and parents. We, in India, have some additional factors — one of them being the pursuit of socialistic equality with which we started our Republic. This is illustrated best by a story — perhaps apocryphal.
The Japanese held an exhibition in Tokyo of crabs from all over the world. In the hall where they were exhibited in large glass jars with lids, the Indian exhibit-jar didn’t have a lid. Visitors were wondering about this aspect and the Indian minder of the jar had to answer queries on this. He explained that those crabs which attempted to climb to the top of the jar in a bid to escape were pulled down by the other crabs and, so, there was no need for a lid. Thus, equality for us is pulling down rather than pushing up. The Indian educational scene, as elsewhere, is a combination of people, as noted in the above quote, and, as important is the setting, private and government schools. The latter is generally marked by poor students, de-motivated teachers and indifferent or greedy babus. However, things are changing slowly for the better. But first, the facts culled from media reports.
The Department of Public Instruction in Karnataka has amended the rules so that students from weaker sections and disadvantaged communities avail reservation in a private school only in the absence of a government or aided school in their neighbourhood. Once the list of the schools that are mapped in the neighbourhood is released, parents will have to first look at government schools in the area. Only if government and aided schools are not available in the locality can parents pick seats in private schools.
Concurrently, there is a move to upgrade government schools. The following report is from Mangaluru in the context of it being developed as a ‘Smart City’. Mangalore Smart City Limited (MSCL) is all set to implement a scheme to set up e-smart school units for 13 government schools in eight wards in the city.
The e-smart school units are expected to develop government schools on par with the private schools where smart education is a trend. MSCL also has plans to provide basic infrastructure for the identified government schools and once the e-smart school units are set up, expert teachers from private schools will also be expected to join hands to impart smart education to children in government schools. In addition, the MSCL has decided to provide better infrastructure, including new buildings, toilets, play areas, reading rooms, cultural event venues and other facilities for various activities for the children in the selected government schools.
All this reflects hope of a welcome change in the setting of the educational scene in India and a hopeful vista for the less endowed children. Ignoring the fact that there seems to be a setback in the RTE route, the above developments seem promising and may stop the voting with their feet against government schools.