Friday, January 18, 2008

I have a DREAM – The India of My DREAMS - Primary Education

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..

37 comments:

  1. RK, improving the deliverability of the systems is a hard challenge. How do we make politics an attractive enough a profession that more qualified people with high integrity join? The (delivery) chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

    -C

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  2. The pull towards cities is still a big deterrent in improving the lot in villages. Will *you* want to go back and work out of the place that has given you so much, your childhood? If not, you have the answer. Your previous post was all about me and I. Well, let's see that happen!
    -Suzanna
    http://bangalorebuzzz.blogspot.com/

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  3. How about pooling funds and starting a chain of primary schools in rural India? While it is good to shout from rooftop and make everyone aware of the problems it is much better to show what can be done. Blaming the government and the politicians is not a solution.

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  4. I agree with the fact that Infrastructure is not the imminent requirement but quality of education is.I am working in an IT Company in Mysore.From my side i believe i should go the nearby Rural areas and educate the kids(class 5-6-7-8) around there.Maybe that would help.

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  5. No point in brooding over lost time/opportunity or NOW ATTEMPTING sequential progression from kerosene lamp/slate/chalk et al-TO DECENT CLASSROOM.If we want to educate mass of kids in countryside and urban have-nots in millions of numbers, at once use TECHNOLOGY to REACH AND DELIVER Simple primary education at the learning site/venue:cowshed, peepal or banyan tree,abandoned house etc.
    -Deelip

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  6. RK, We have good policies, bad implementations. Bad and irresponsive governance in almost every sphere. But we have to start somewhere. 'Primary Education' and 'Mother and child Nutrition' could be two entry point activities. I would like to interact with you regarding these two areas. Regards.Kamal

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  7. jishko karna hai woh nahi karta ,aur jo karna chahte hai unko karne nahi diya jata hai.kyonki woh imaandar haih mager imaandaar hamesha kamjor hote hai kyoki unke paas koi dush ra imaandar aadmi nahi hota hai jo ush ka har wqt sath de.hamaare des me bahot se young people hai jo chahte hai ki woh desh ki pragti me sath de mager unke haathon ko badhane se pahle he rok diya jaata hai.college me koi sachha student college election me khada nahi ho shakta hai kyo bus ishliye ki ushke uper koi F.I.R nahi hai,kya jishke uper F.I.R hota hai wahi honest student hota hai jo pure college ke student ka lead karega.jab yaha se sudhar nahi hoga to ham kahin bhi sudhar nahi kar sakte hai.because yahi student age chal ker hamare desh ka pratiniditv kakenge.lead india tabhi hoga jab college ke honest student ko age ane ka moka milega.ek taalaab me yadi ek khrab machli ho jai to hame pure taalaab ko khali karke fir se puri machliyan badal deni chahiye.

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  8. Really liked the initiatives taken by you. I can still remember the GDs we had during our MBA selection wherein we were asked to rank the Top5 priority areas for development in India. I chose agriculture instead of health care, Infrastructure etc because I felt that it was fundamental and everything else followed because a majority of people in India (mainly in rural areas) still live a hand to hand existence all thanks to skewed Govt initiaves (or the lack of it).
    Read about you and really felt nice to know that someone has woken up to the perennial infrastructure problems in booming cities.

    I've made a blog-post too asking the readers to Vote for you in Lead India if they feel like.
    Hope you fulfill your dreams with or without Lead India.
    ~jjs~

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  9. Agree. One point though - apart from Government apathy, we also need to work around err rather fix another major milestone blocker - Our Social Structure.

    Where do Women stand in the 'Real India’? - I think we all know the answer don't we? And that you have claimed to have seen rural (Real) India up close.

    The ones winning reality shows or select few Women entrepreneurs or even the sleazy boll wood actresses do not represent Real Indian women [Fortunately not in the case of the last example]. Women constitute roughly 47-48% of our population don’t they? Even more importantly Mother is indeed the first Guru for the child isn't she?

    So unless we settle this issue as well, I do not think we can make any progress worth it in Educating the masses [by Educating I mean real education, not mere Schooling till 10th or 12th grade].

    Yes, we can not any longer afford to stare and admire our obstacles but rather attempt to overcome them, but in my view resolving this major issue is more important than resolving our bureaucratic hassles.

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  10. Dear RK,

    As you have said there were many changes that you found when u went back to your vilage... This means there are changes happning around but only thing what needs to be worked on is FTF- First Thing First. Means we need to motivate people to bring in basic things first. If we take in positive way we will surely get positive responce from those who are responsible for the current changes. (Hope u got mess between the lines)

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  11. Dear Sir,

    Its very nice to take ( may first step not urs) steps to give good primary education.

    I am an Electrical Engineer and from last 15 yrs i am in the field..In 2004 i had a chance to work in rural areas..i was appointed as Village Development Assistant in Grama Panchayath. Since from my childhood, i had dream of develop my town/village. Even as an Engineer there is no need to go my village and work there. I hv taken the initiation to do some thing for my village...it helps in to do some thing for India. I just cant work in govt. dept. ( Rural Development and Panchayath raj )as every other man is a currptor..its just impossible for me to do that job by accepting what i am seeing....
    Unless ....the the great people of india to find solution for corruption...its very difficult to find for others....I will be continue in next session....Somasundar

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  12. In india only power speaks....address it from that angle only.

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  13. Mr. RK,

    With pride I support and vote for you. I am excited finally the dawn of wise revolution is ON.

    Sunil bobba

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  14. Great Idea ! But what I feel instead of talikng & discussing a lot we should start immidiately , if nothing happens and materializes at least 3-4 kids will be in position to write correctly from A to G (only) !!!!
    Good to think as a whole but strat from pin point location rest is accomplished by News channels and other NGO's no need of publicity .
    What I feel - If we have to eliminate a root cause then we have work in corporate level way i.e. result oriented planing and movements with dedicated professionals after acquiring substantial resources from all possible ways . As we are not dealing and saying Munshi Premchand's pathetic Village story !!

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. This is just for Suzanna:
    While I agree that we need to walk the talk, RK ji is trying to sensitize people..

    It is "Wake bloody up" call. All of us need to get involved. One person, One leader cant do a damn thing!
    - Mohan

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  17. Dear RK,
    It was Panditji who said way back in the 1950s that engineers should take the lead in the country because of their proven competencies, their rigorous training/broadened vision and a bias for action.Unfortunately ,till one Narayana Moorthy rose in the social and industrial firmament in this country as the doyen of corporate governance,I suspect that we as a society have not given engineers their due.Exceptions are,perhaps, a Sreedharan of Delhi Metro Rail fame or a Dr Kurien of Amul fame whom we have grudgingly accepted as achievers.Real engineers always lack the sheen of politicians and theatrical personalities and they they take time to get noticed.If this is happening to you in the Lead India campaign,I am not surprised.We are still a society caught up in our admiration for lawyers and beauracrats, a legacy of our colonial rule.We are yet to accept a Ratan Tata,an engineer manager who created history by creating the Rs 1 lakh car,by criticizing him that his cars are going to clog the roads-our car density is only 4 per 1000 as against the US density of 1000 per 1000-instead of clamouring for improving the despicable infrastructure of this country for accommodating more cars.One of my friends used to say that we are the richest country run by people with the poorest management capabilities in bringing forth the uncirculating money for the development of the country.We will only speak about conscription but our armed forces will continue to have tens of thousands of officers short.We will speak about eradication of poverty but will do nothing about it except paying lip service."Population is a time bomb" was our slogan in 1970s but is now totally forgotten when it has already exploded and posing the greatest danger to the country.
    The list is endless.

    Instead of calling ourselves as an economoic super power in the making,it is time for us to introspect whether we are on the brink of being called a failed state like many African nations because we don't care for our poor people who make up most of our country and because of our histrionics we are able to tell the world that all is fine.

    Dear RK,we need a thousand to start with,and progressively a few crore young, sensitised middle class people like you joining together to think about the solutions to the country's crying needs-which the politcal class will never do-and bring about a change in this country's development pattern which at present is a lot of hype and hoopla.

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  18. I agree with the fact that Infrastructure is not the imminent requirement but quality of education is.From my side i believe i should go the nearby Rural areas and educate the kids(class 5-6-7-8) around there.Maybe that would help.all must decide to plant a trees.village life is very good compared to city life

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  19. RK, I appreciate your hardwork in your life & the hardwork that you want to put across the country's development starting off with education. i suggest that if u really want to make a mark to your statements then probably you should not be the sole leader, instead you can find & guide the potential leaders wherever you find them, in this way you will make a mark in the society of what you are upto & the changes will be seen right in front of your eyes. I wish u all the best for your great thinking & committment. I would suggest all my near & dear to make your(our) dream of a brighter India successful by voting for you. keep up ur hardwork & you will be rewarded.

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  20. I don't find anything unknown from your experience. I myself is suffering a pain like you and decided to do something for our country. For that I just resigned from my govt service and decided to do some social activities. But to me its the economic factors which are the real culprits. If the vaillagers can be economically self reliant they can raise their voice and make the delivery system proper and efficient. Yes, I also agree money is not the problem area. Thank you for your effort.

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  21. Dear Misra Sir,
    Heart-felt congrats for being participant of LEAD INDIA and your article on Primary Education. Indeed you have touched the nerve of our incompetent governance on such a sensitive issue. You have rightly said that without laundering the overall delivery mechanism by our government, all our dreams & efforts have very little to realize some concrete results. I would appreciate your sound research in this field and pray to god for all success in your mission.

    regards

    anil kumar agrawal
    anilkagrawal@rediffmail.com

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  22. According to me, a leader is a man who walks ahead of people. He is also someone who doesn’t walk too fast so his followers can keep pace with him. A leader is approachable, visible, but always a little ahead. A leader is a person who guides people but at the same time makes sure not to attack an individual's self-respect. Every person has certain self-respect. If that self-respect is protected, he or she will be willing to listen.

    I don’t see myself in the role of a leader. I just feel fortunate to be part of a free society in a democratic country such as ours. The Constitution of India has given me the right to speak my mind and that is what I do.

    My best Wishes to the best man.
    Hafeez Khuraishi

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  23. Dear Friends,
    Thank you for your comments. I am unable to reply to all of you individually, but will attempt to summarize.
    The intent of this article was to HIGHLIGHT the lack of DELIVERY MECHANISMS and Capacity Constraints. Govt schemes, if implemented honestly will have far reaching impact.
    Purpose was to highlight the importance of Participation of Recipients in the Process of Delivery - which I call Public Private Partnership to ensure that intended benefits reach the needy.

    Please do whatever you can, in whichever way. I am doing my little bit..
    Hope you enjoyed the LATEST Lead India show tonight - and saw your Ministers struggling :)..

    Have a nice weekend..

    Regards,
    R K Misra

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  24. Dear RK
    I am not sure in case you have heard about OLPC - One laptop per child. I am Naval Veteran and currently working for Telecom Company in private sector. We support this OLPC and has adopted a rural school as pilot to bridge the digital divide.....
    I support you and your efforts wholeheartedly. Cdr Anil Saxena

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  25. Dear RK
    I am not sure in case you have heard about OLPC - One laptop per child. I am Naval Veteran and currently working for Telecom Company in private sector. We support this OLPC and has adopted a rural school as pilot to bridge the digital divide.....
    I support you and your efforts wholeheartedly. Cdr Anil Saxena

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  26. Hi RK,
    The problem in villages is that the panditji who teaches in such school doesn't think the way all people who have commented here think. We all have come from villages to metros because we all want to earn money. Panditji was not able to go to metro so he stayed in village but his ambitions are like any other man. They also want everything which we have working in private sector. They are not motivated to build the future of India. They don't care . They just think of how to earn enough without doing anything. SO we need to place educated and motivated people like us in rural villages , One guy in one school but he should be paid enough so that he doesn't feel lack of funds for himself and his family. That guy can control one school and simultaneously trains and motivates other three needed from the local areas.
    The other issue is uneducated parents. This has been a chain. All villagers are almost illiterate and they don't press their kids to go to school or masterji to teach their kids properly. I see a lot of parents since they themselves left school at levels of 5-8 so they don't ask their kids to continue.

    INSTEAD OF GIVING FUNDS TO PRADHANJI WHY NOT APPOINT ONE GUY QUALIFIED AND MOTIVATED ENOUGH TO WORK IN ONE GRAMPANCHAYAT.

    I am sure we can find one bright guy who made it big in IT industry or anywhere else from one in five villages of India, who is dreaming for doing something to his village but can't do it because he just earns enough to live happily with his family in a metro. If he leaves that job he will not be able to support his family the way he want. But to do something for village he has to live in there. Again the big question , How many of us would like to live in an Indian village?

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  27. Sir I think primary education can be improved if the posotion of rural female population is improved. If women is empowered then society is empowered as stated by our former president Abdul Kalam. The managment of schools and colleges should be checked by sincer higher authorities. This is possible only when we will teach honesty, sincerty and duty towards society and NATION to our coming generation. Also if in village panchayats number of female and old educated person with broad vision are made members then functioning of villages can be improved.

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  28. I should say you raised a very relevant point. The alarming divide in the rural and urban areas is what is making people inolerant towards one another. I wish we coule take economic growth to the masses in the rural areas which probably the only way to break the divide between the two

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  29. Your Views on how to Combat Terrorism in india ???

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  30. Dear Mr.MIshra,

    Thoughts are always good but how will you implement them. Today, the teacher in your village rides a bike and carries a mobile but the children in your own village may have never seen or even heard the word PC. You have acquired Software firms but what you have done for your own village. Charity begins at home. More than 90% NGO's are formed only to mint money. What qualities do you think you will acquire by the age of 60 yrs. that you will become PM, which you think you don't have today.

    Wish you all the best.

    Sincerely,

    Ravi Kumar Suman
    +91-9311552759
    Franchising Association of India
    A-13, Kailash Colony
    New Delhi-110048
    Northern Region Council
    T: +91 11 2923 5332 / 2923 5351
    F: +91 11 2923 3145
    E: ravi.kumar@fai.co.in

    To know more about FAI and Franchising visit: http://www.fai.co.in

    Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this mail

    ReplyDelete
  31. Dear Mr.MIshra,

    Thoughts are always good but how will you implement them. Today, the teacher in your village rides a bike and carries a mobile but the children in your own village may have never seen or even heard the word PC. You have acquired Software firms but what you have done for your own village. Charity begins at home. More than 90% NGO's are formed only to mint money. What qualities do you think you will acquire by the age of 60 yrs. that you will become PM, which you think you don't have today.

    Wish you all the best.

    Sincerely,

    Ravi Kumar Suman
    +91-9311552759
    Franchising Association of India
    A-13, Kailash Colony
    New Delhi-110048
    Northern Region Council
    T: +91 11 2923 5332 / 2923 5351
    F: +91 11 2923 3145
    E: ravi.kumar@fai.co.in

    To know more about FAI and Franchising visit: http://www.fai.co.in

    Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this mail

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi RK,

    Very relevant points made in this blog. I have one thought on this which perhaps someone like you can provide some insight into. I was with Wipro and I know the foundation is doing a lot of good in primary schools in rural and urban areas. I am sure there are a lot of NGOs doing similar work- why dont all these foundations come together and chart out a programme with common goals which are achievable and measurable. Is there any way to make an integrated effort rather than start yet another small nGO that cannot reach more than 50-100 schools.

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  33. education in india can be improved if every school in india makes an effort n gives education to one child (basic education atleast) to make them think . hence making india better..In bangalore there are schools in magadi road.. jus go n have a look.. It might look funny.. one room schools and "International" attached to every school`s name..Half the schools quality of education is NIL

    ReplyDelete
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  36. Hello! I think you've a great idea and this publication isn't bad enough. You will be a great leader in this matters. I hope you can still doing this, like this people from Propecia country, did you know it?

    ReplyDelete

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