Saturday April 21, 2018

Resurrect Government schools to revive our education system

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By Harshmeet Singh

Government educational institutes in the country are a study in contrast. While the Government controlled institutes of higher education such as the IITs and IIMs rank among the best in the world, the government run primary schools are in shambles since time immemorial. From avoiding government schools as a kid to aspiring for government colleges for higher education, the students witness contrasting aspects of education system in the country.

With the Right to Education coming into force in 2010, Education was made a fundamental right in the country. While it drastically improved the enrollment ratio in schools, it remained silent on the quality of education that the child deserves.

The result? According to the 10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), about 1/4th of the class eight students in India can’t read the text meant for class 2nd. Reports like these underline the fact that national literacy rate of 74% is just eyewash.

Nowhere is the division between India and Bharat more evident than in our education system. A multitude of problems have been plaguing our education system for quite a while. The first and foremost is the lack of funds when it comes to government-run schools. While the private schools get a shot in the arm by raising enough finances through sky-high fees, the government schools are at the mercy of the budgets allocated by the government. Not only can the government slash the budgets anytime (like Jaitely did this year), only a fraction of the total allotted sum reaches the ground. Nothing else can justify classrooms where kids sit on the floor due to lack of chairs and no lectures taking place in the rainy season since the classroom has no roof. For long, government schools have been regarded as the dumping ground for the kids who couldn’t afford anything better.

Another factor that has further aggravated the problem is our affinity towards the English medium private schools. Realizing the financial potential of the idea of opening a private English medium school in small areas, a number of such schools have mushroomed in our villages over the past decade or so. The parents, who are usually poor farmers in such cases, willing to give their child the best possible education, admit them to these schools. And thus begins the erosion of their savings. Most of these private schools pay a meager salary to their teachers (Rs 500-1500 per month) since their solitary aim is to fill their own purses. It is impossible to imagine any learned teacher working for such a sum. With the parents themselves being too uneducated to check their kids’ progress, they continue paying the fee from their hard earned money, under the delusion that their kid is learning.

But if teacher’s salary determines his dedication towards his students, why is the standard of teaching so dismal in government school? While the government schools pay their teachers a healthy salary, they do not impose any accountability on the teachers. Unlike the teachers in the private schools, the teachers at government schools have a permanent job with almost no chance of being ousted (unless they create a major blunder). There are hardly any checks on whether the teachers are actually teaching in the classroom or whether the syllabus is covered in the allotted time period or not. And for those who give their best inside the classroom, the rewards are few, in any. The promotions are arbitrary and majorly based on your tenure and your connections. Their performance inside their classroom is seldom appreciated by anyone. All these things are no secret, but that hasn’t forced anyone out of their slumber.

While we take utmost pride in making education a fundamental right in our country, we must accept that much more needs to be done. Imagine what if the solution to some of the world’s biggest problems lies in the mind of a kid who goes to a school where teacher never turns up! Let’s do ourselves a favor by taking care of our school system.

 

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Child Rights Summit: Nations Should Spend More on Education Over Weapons

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Displaced Syrian children look out from their tents at Kelbit refugee camp, near the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 17, 2018. VOA

Countries should spend more on schooling and less on weapons to ensure that children affected by war get an education, a child rights summit heard Monday.

The gathering in Jordan was told that a common thread of war was its devastating impact in keeping children out of school.

Indian Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who founded the summit, said ensuring all children around the world received a primary and secondary education would cost another $40 billion annually — about a week’s worth of global military expenditure.

ALSO READ: Politics and Education: A Relationship that contributes a lot in shaping our Future

child rights summit
Nobel Peace Prize laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai listen to speeches during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Dec. 10, 2014. VOA

“We have to choose whether we have to produce guns and bullets, or we have to produce books and pencils to our children,” he told the second Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit that gathers world leaders and Nobel laureates.

Global military expenditure reached almost $1.7 trillion in 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said last year 27 million children were out of school in conflict zones.

ALSO READ: Exclusive: How is One Woman Army changing the notions of Education in society?

“We want safe schools, we want safe homes, we want safe countries, we want a safe world,” said Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for his work with children.

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein told the summit, which focused on child refugees and migrants affected by war and natural disasters, that education was “key,” especially for “children on the move.”

“Education can be expensive, but never remotely as close to what is being spent on weapons. … They [children] are today’s hope for a better future,” he told the two-day summit.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit group, described the number of Syrian refugees not in school in the Middle East as “shocking” as the war enters its eighth year.

Kennedy cited a report being released Tuesday by the KidsRights Foundation, an international children’s rights group, which found 40 percent of school-aged Syrian children living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq cannot access education. VOA

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