Private schools vs. Govt schools
Rich schools vs. poor schools
English medium schools vs. mother tongue schools
School education defines a country’s unique strengths and character! Teachers’ lives these days have become socially downgraded, poor pay, poor motivation and insecure future!
Indian schools system must become internationally rated. Like the English and French schools. Towards this end our curricular reform is important, more so our educators mindset to deschool the formal system we have inherited from the past. The Indian middle classes, in the past and now in the present, shaped our educational beliefs and also ruined our Indian mindset by creating a cringing society of submissive class. The bureaucratic class. The unquestioning mindset. That is the dominant Indian mindset. So, we don’t see any merit in tinkering with the current curricula content where we don’t change the mindset.
This has to be radically changed to create a confident Indian mindset and to create a new India of enormous self-confidence. The rest are details!
Indian schools system, both the primary and secondary schools system is perhaps the most critical stage in any education system. We have just to see the British/French/German and the American schools system. Since India inherited the Macaulay model, today the English language gives India the cutting edge in the emerging knowledge economy where, our IT, Ites, BPo industries, the “knowledge services” exports industry has radically changed the new Indian middle class mindset!
So, now our current education policies have to take into account the changing needs and aspirations of the dominant middle class demands. The upper classes won’t care. The lower classes would just imitate the middle class aspirations. What medium of teaching?
Language has become a fanatical, emotional issue these days. There are any numbers of such fanatics in each state. In Karnataka, the unaided private schools are waging a persistent battle with the government. Their contention: there are as much as 50 per cent of students, under their wing, whose mother tongue is not one, but as many and diverse as 32 other Indian languages! This must be the trend in all major metros and large urban centers, with the migration of people on the upswing. So, there is really a genuine need to go slow on the mother tongue medium in the urban centers.
So to insist “only mother tongue” in urban primary schools is, says the private school managements” a violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court”! So, the English medium is a must, come what may. So, we find the private,that is unrecognized private schools, a record of some 2,000 odd primary schools in Bangalore have just defied the government rules and thrive with impunity of what the government does or doesn’t. Just in the capital of New Delhi, just under the very nose of the Central government, the Delhi private education sector is the most thriving, the most money-spinning ventures for the rich and powerful! Yes, education there is by the rich and powerful only!
So, we have to be rather cautious and also realistic. Last generation values or last generation mindset in matters of education values won’t do. So, we find the talk of equal education opportunities schools, the Central government directed school education policies wont work, not as expected or pleaded by the rather old fashioned educators.
The CBSE schools are the elite schools sought after. Even when some rich and powerful schools violated the CBSE rules of affiliation, the Supreme Court refused to intervene. Also, the CBSE is now accommodative to the emerging issues like free education for the girl children etc. Such improvements are what we can hope for. The rich and poor schools, the urban and rural schools, the class and caste divisions, the very nature and content of the school education are all realities.
There is now a new India of high aspirations, thanks to the new economy IT sector setting the pace for high paying jobs. So, the new education curriculum has to respond. So, what should the list of priorities for Indian school education curriculum? Teach English to whomever want it. Teach mother tongue in humanities, music and morals, religion and thus make basic reading and writing in mother tongue compulsory. Or make it optional in rich schools.
There is now a great migration to the USA and so the new generation immigrant Indian population would neglect the mother tongue. This, we feel, can’t be avoided. So, let the learning of languages become a necessity. Today, somehow or other some foreign languages would be learnt besides English, the IT industry offers jobs to those who can work in Europe, who can go to China and so on.
So, what we mean? The unsaid part of the social reality is that those who are well-off will get away with the sort of education, the medium of education etc. So, all the government can do now is to progressively reduce the grants-in-aid to those private schools which are run by industry or large charities, with the choice of giving them to open fee paying classes in whatever languages they want to run the schools.
There are still big corporate sponsored schools receiving grants, these schools can be fully allowed to go private and charge fees. So too the Government private primary schools. Already, in none of the most language conscious states, is neglecting the mother tongue and starts the nursery schools in English language. The point is that government funds, being in deficit, have to be spent only to promote the weaker sections, girls education, alit children, 100% enrolment of rural children etc.
The contents of the curriculum have to be radically changed. English exams can be light. Just for the name sake. Whoever wants to study further, let them do so themselves, at their expenses. Science, computer, maths, history and some arts and music. Then, all the current concerns, environment, health, international wars and climate changes, road traffic hazards, health, food, obesity, pollution of all types are the compulsory teaching subjects in schools.
Etiquette and manners, terrorism, violence, self confidence and character, morals and ethics are the other subjects. Too much time is wasted in teaching, setting questions and conducting exams. All exams after the school finals must be voluntary. The share of the GDP for school education must be raised and so too for spreading the Internet based learning. Broadband connectivity must be given top priority. A process of deschooling of the formal education system, more so the schools system is a step in the progressive way. We have created a Macaulay Ghost that had eaten into the vitals of the Indian mindset, the subservient and unquestioning mind.
We have to lay the Macaulay Ghost. Whoever contributes towards this goal are the true servers of the national cause and creators of a new Indian identity. Gandhi with all his genius tried and failed. Tagore’s scheme succeeded and still has potential for update. Curriculum is a cultural activity, a naturally learning activity. Culture must also include learning the sciences, Indian science must also evolve indigenously. All this doesn’t mean any narrow nationalism; it is a radical way of look at the globalization and what Indian can do about it, to find its own identity.
Let more schools come, in the private sector, if the goal is what we have indicated broadly.