In a recent poll on my site to the question “if you had a choice, will you send your child to a government school?” I had as many as 85% of the respondents voting NO. They instead preferred to send their child to a private school. I used the poll on the site to reinforce my own findings through enquiries with several people I have met. Even some of the people who work at my home and office do not send their children to government schools. I checked with my colleagues who also confirmed such a trend with their household employees. This also corroborates with government statistics where enrolment in privte schools are increasing. Or is something really wrong? And what do our governments do about it?
I attended my entire schooling years in a government school. I am proud of it. A good number of my friends went to government schools. They have all done very well in life and are all today in great positions throughout the world.. I met a famous neurosurgeon in his late seventies in a hospital in Chennai. He also went to a government school. I have met Judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court in India who all went to Government Schools. I sent my son through a government aided school. His experiences, he tells me are matchless.
In those days, my school had an assortment of students. Their diversity was equally poignant. Several of my classmates did not enter the portals of a college and ended up doing menial jobs. I still see some of them (forty years later) and extend a helping hand as my other friends also do. If they had this help when they finished schools they may not be on the receiving end. But we never felt offended by the close proximity of these economically challenged children in our class.
Today, many parents including those who cannot really afford quarantine their children from the economically challenged. Why? I learnt that it all had to do with perceptions. First of all it has become a status symbol amongst the lower middle class to shun government schools. It is true that there are a few unruly and unkempt adult like children in many government schools who walk around with knives and similar tools and the establishment is unable to control them. Such indiscipline is encouraged by local musclemen who also dabble in politics. Private schools also have such thugs and spoiled brats. And most of the students who attend private schools have also home tutors.
The teachers in government schools get their salary irrespective of whether they teach or not. The long and short of it that the school administration is not empowered and lacks leadership. It is the lack of accountability and governance. All the tax payers’ money like many other government initiatives goes down the drain. What a colossal waste.
It is high time that Corporate Social Responsibility Program (CSRs) work with select government schools and provides the necessary governance support to them. If corporate India supports (no money please) some of the city centered government schools, it will go a long way in motivating the teachers and the administartion and changing the perceptions of people. It is important for all well to do parents and their children to see the realities of the real India and mingle with everyone to foster an egalitarian society – to reduce the crime, inequality and injustice. It does not pay in the long run to quarantine your child and alienate him. Send them to government schools and demand delivery of quality education. Only a determined effort can change things.