Present Sir – the state of primary education in India (Please CLICK here to view this video)
I’m starting my blog with a clip which came online in early 1999 to depict the state of primary education in government schools in rural areas. But I’m sure that the makers of this clip could never have thought that their AV creation could be used again in this 21st century to point out the same stark realities which were persistent in that era.
My mentor infused in me this life lesson: it’s very effortless to list down problems for any issue, but it is complex to find even a single effective solution for any of these problems. The opportunities for these school going children do not even come close to helping them achieve their expectations for a better reality. It’s the same reality which is promised and revised every year by the largest democracy of the world- the Indian Government.
So during my field visits and in my exploration to find the stark realities, certain questions have always come to my mind – What makes these children come to school every day? What makes them walk miles & miles (at times barefoot) carrying bags packed with textbooks and notebooks? What makes them abandon all their hopes of joyrides and accept pain, burdens and beatings as a part and parcel of their lives…?
- I like learning new things, I like my Miss, I like learning new English words
- I like dressing up early morning, wearing cleaned school dress
- I don’t get any beatings (like at home)
- I like the food. I own a place here Miss- this is my bench and my chair and I don’t have to share it with anyone or sit on the floor
- I can use the washroom. I don’t have to go in the fields
- I can talk and play with my friends
- And Miss in these 5 hours I am not asked to do any work- no babysitting, no fetching water and no daily chores (what I am made to do at home).
It was when I sat with these school children, listened to them gossiping and smiled at their giggling, that I found my one solution for all the endless root causes of untouched potential. I was amazed that none of these (first generation) learners cribbed about any of these problems: the dismal learning environment, the tiring travel time to reach school, eating the tasteless meal simply to beat starvation and at times being a victim of a stick (corporal punishment).
There is no way that we can balance the pros and cons of the state of primary education in rural areas, but the children’s content faces always make you think beyond the cynical side. The majority of the children in government schools in India are well below grade level, which is not an astonishing fact because there are many complex factors contributing to school performance. As far as these children are concerned their lives are definitely not connected to the advancements in the educational field. But still these children in rural, remote areas find more value and fulfillment in other things than in the quality standards and ethics of a formal school.
As Swami Vivekananda says – In a day, if you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling on the wrong path. And this makes me believe that, no matter how endless our problems are, we are surely not travelling on a clueless path.
School Chale Hum (Please CLICK here to view this video)