I was very young, 11 years. My parents were shifting from one small town to another small town in UP and I had to change my school, mid-session. I spent summer vacation at my paternal village, in Sitapur district and went to local village school till my admission in town school got finalized. It was around 15 months, when I got to see the REAL VILLAGE school. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Our Pundit ji and Munshi ji (we had 2 teachers) used to come from nearby villages and were usually late by 1-2 hrs as they used to finish their morning agriculture/cattle chores before they started for the school. Old cycles used to be the culprits at times. Nearest puncture fixing shop was 1.5 Kms away. Many-a-times, one of us would go to the shop to get the puncture fixed and we really enjoyed this task as it gave us the day off from the school. We scheduled to reach school just before closing time, which was usually decided based on the shadows or someone going to our house and check our old clock, we did not have many in our village.
We hardly had 3-4 hrs of study during which we (one of the students) was made to read a chapter from the book, some math sums and finally national anthem before we left for our homes. We wrote on TAKHTIs (black wooden writing pads) which were made to shine with soot (from Dibiya – Kerosin lamp) mixed with oil rubbed on TAKHTI with DAWAAT (bottle) which had KHADIYA (chalk solution).
Well, it may sound like a nostalgic story from early 20th century, but this was 1975. I am not that old J.
Recently I visited my village and there was a lot of change. We had brick school building, paper note books, pens, pencils and kids looked happy as in good old days. Master jis (still only 2, though sanctioned strength is 4) were coming on motorcycles and had mobile phones. I was also told that there is a concept of mid-day meal but is not a regular affair. No one knew much about it and was not keen to talk about ‘Prdhan ji’ for fear of some future problems.
However what had not changed was the number of hours spent on teaching kids – just 4-5 hrs. Quality and means of education hadn’t changed a bit. Did someone say PC’s in the class room? No where near that. This bothered me a lot.
How can we think of competing with the best in the world when most of India is still primitive in imparting the basic education. Government takes solace in the enrolment numbers and money spent on mid-may meal schemes, but do we have any measure of qualitative improvement in our primary education.
It is India’s biggest scare of 21st century. We are creating an army of unemployable youth which will see so much wealth around him. Will he sit quiet?
A country of one billion plus, growing at more than 9% does not even have basic educational aids and tools to educate its young. Teachers are unable to teach as they have not even been exposed to modern teaching methods. There are no mid-career training programs nor is there any monitoring. Absenteeism is rampant and most village schools are under-staffed.
Where will we get qualified professionals to run our factories, write our software, run our power plants, treat our patients and build our dams. This is alarming.
Money does not seem to be a problem. My discussions with the government officials and bureaucrats always point towards the deficiencies in the delivery systems and poor governance, not lack of funds.
We need grass root efforts and awareness to sensitize our rural population about the seriousness of the issue and ensure that local village folks with the help of authorities and NGOs try and improve the quality and delivery mechanisms.
I would like to hear the comments and suggestions.
Read on…"I have a Dream" Series..will continue..