Last week,we were on our regular visits to the Koramangala slums with CRY like every Sunday evening.These visits ensure continuous enrollment of the slum children in schools and to address any grievances that parents might have regarding this.
It was normal as usual till the moment when I was stopped a man who figured out we were about education and welfare of children. My fellow volunteer Tarun and I were stopped by him as the rest of the volunteers moved along. He asked what we were about and we told him that we were surveying whether or not the children of the community were going to the schools or not.
He told us, “I am sending my son to the government school. I may not be so educated but I know when they are teaching the children and when they are not”.
We asked him in broken Tamil, “What do you mean?”
“My son is in 7th Grade and he can’t even do basic arithmetic. I am a coolie and I work hard so that these children don’t have to toil the same way.”
We knew that the state of the government schools in the locality was known for its inadequacy but what he said later shocked us more. He went on to say, “The teachers will promote them to the next grade if they are offered bribes. What is the point if my son reaches 10th standard and still don’t understand basic mathematics? He will have to be a coolie like me.” We told him we were raising a petition to the government to raise the bar for the government schools. I knew that our answer didn’t mean anything to him.
It is one thing to say that if we all the people become educated then who will be our coolies and who will do the lower level jobs? I do not want to even address that here but what bothers me the most is when children who want to learn don’t have adequate access to even substandard education.
The standard of education in government schools were found to be particularly low in and around this area. We have had many children and parents complain that the children in the schools are subjected to discrimination by caste and corporal punishment is used without hesitation. We have also had reports from parents telling us that these children were only being taught songs. It would be incorrect to categorize all schools under the same roof of inefficiency since some of the schools do confirm to the apt norms. My point, therefore being, how do we as a community improve the standard of these schools?
One thing is for sure, the Indian Department of Education needs to be kept under constant check at national, state and local levels; especially since there is limited accountability of faculty in these schools.
Things like establishing workshops to train the teachers on updated teaching methodologies can go a long way.
Also, offering vocational training to the children at least at the secondary school level can help. Vocational training could include basic training in Carpentry, Electrical, Tailoring, over shorter periods of time.
Interactive learning using computers maybe far-fetched but will certainly be effective in the long run. Computers from http://www.raspberrypi.org/ could go a long way for us.
|Author: Ajith Alex Jacob
Editor: Tulika Dubey
- Accountability in education (citizeneconomists.com)