Education

Sending his children to local govt. school, how South Sikkim’s District Collector is driving progress

Shinjini Chowdhury
3rd May 2017
184+ Shares
  • Share Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • LinkedIn Icon
  • Reddit Icon
  • WhatsApp Icon
Share on

Raj Yadav believes that enrolling his children in a government school will impart the best of education to them.

In 2012, a group of volunteers of a small NGO in Kolkata had gone to a slum near Manicktala in the north of the city to conduct a survey on the state of children’s education among the residents. They were surprised to hear the local school being referred to as the ‘khichdi school’. After some deliberation, it finally dawned upon them that, being a government school, it serves midday meals! The pathetic fact of the matter remained that it were those proportions of lunch that served as the primary feature of the school as well as the main motivation for students to attend it.

I was one of those volunteers. That day was the first of many more to come that I grew to see and understand the condition of government schooling and its target group in our country.

While a section of the impoverished population attends school because of midday meals, a considerable section attempts to break the cycle of poverty and poorly-paid unskilled labour by being literate, if not educated. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (2009) decrees free education to all children between six and fourteen years of age or up to Class VIII.

According to UNICEF’s report on primary education in India between 2008 and 2012, net attendance ratio in primary schools is 81.4 percent among girls of a net enrolment ratio of 98.5 percent and 85.2 percent among boys of a net enrolment ratio of 98.8 percent. The survival rate to the last primary grade has been surveyed to be 94.6 percent.

The above indicates that most young children do enrol in and attend public schooling, and their most naïve, formative years are spent in such environment. This, naturally, places huge obligation on schools to be centres of quality education and development for entire generations of a country’s future.

While most educated families shy away from government schools, Raj Yadav of Jaipur, Rajasthan, and currently serving as District Collector in South Sikkim, has chosen to tread the opposite way.

Every Friday, he goes on school inspection in his district. He says, “We focus on quality education. We interact with the children and see how things are going.” However, he finds teachers of government schools less motivated than they should be. They seem to be under the impression that private schools are of better standards. To extend his genuine support and express his confidence in these teachers, he has enrolled his children in Government Senior Secondary School, Namchi. Earlier, Jyoti, aged seven, and Aryan, aged five, were studying in Class II and UKG, respectively, in a private school in the town. Raj believes that curricula in government schools are well-matched to impart good education to children, and wants to lead his society by example in perceiving government schooling in positive light.

Jyoti and Aryan presently study in Classes III and I respectively of the primary section of their new school.

Perhaps, this is what our most widespread and primary system of education needs – faith expressed and support extended from the Indian majority. Otherwise, the process of denigration becomes a vicious, self-feeding one. It is neither the syllabi, nor the qualifying requisites of teachers, nor the system of education that is different between government schools and average Indian private schools. What differs is our perception of each kind of schooling, leading to most primary government education set-ups being labelled and quarantined for the ones with lesser degrees of ‘success’, or in other words, for the ‘poor’ or the ‘uneducated’.

These divisive attitudes towards education thus serve to leave pernicious effects on the class division in our society where one’s financial condition, level of education and social status quickly intersperse. As is expected, the inequalities continue to swell and bloat in proportion. It is advisable to note the overlapping nature of all social factors at play and, therefore, to fully grasp the difficulty in sustained development in any one field if there continues to exist an unreconciled gap in foundational life and education.

In such a mosaic of a scenario, acts like this of Raj and his family speak of simple, humane efforts to bridge the invisible gulfs that threaten a society ridden with practices of subtle inequality.

184+ Shares
  • Share Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • LinkedIn Icon
  • Reddit Icon
  • WhatsApp Icon
Share on
Report an issue
Authors

Related Tags