Another Brick In The Wall
It has become a cliché to say that we have two Indias: one the English speaking, resource-rich urban India and the other semi-educated, resource-constrained rural India. If we look at the condition of education in our country, the same two Indias can be observed there too.
Schools in villages lack basic amenities, such as libraries, access to water and toilets. Some schools even lack playgrounds. The quality of teachers is really bad. It affects students’ learning and they falter in basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. No doubt, the same problems can be observed in cities too, but the condition is not so dire.
Villages offer a great opportunity in outdoor learning, if only teachers are ready to use the available space. You don’t need to have hi-tech facilities to impart education, you just need a bunch of teachers who are passionate about their work and are capable enough. But sourcing these kind of teachers has proved to be a challenge in villages as well as cities.
Village schools rarely pay attention to the extra-curricular activities. Only a few students get to participate in events like elocution, essay writing or group singing in inter-school competitions. Schools never hold intra-school events. Reading is not encouraged. Teachers don’t try to make the classes interactive. And as a result holistic growth of a child does not become possible.
Students face the biggest problem while learning English. Teachers themselves aren’t fluent in the language. Some of them can’t even read and write properly. So students obviously suffer. Plus unlike their urban counterparts, students don’t have parents who speak in English. They don’t get English newspapers at their doorsteps every day and they don’t watch English programmes on TV. More than 80 per cent students go to vernacular medium schools (though this number is decreasing gradually), so there is no exposure to English at all. And as a result, you have a large number of students who can’t read, write or understand even basic English.
It doesn’t help that higher education in India is in English and therefore rural students face a huge setback once they reach there. The odds are so heavily stacked against these students that most of them just about survive in degree courses.
The government is spending a lot of money on schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan; but most of it is wasted on things which are not needed. The government can’t recognize the micro problems that a school faces and the teachers who do are not given the leeway to address them. It is also a common complaint of the teachers that all the additional duties (various surveys, census data collection, election postings, etc.) imposed on them by the government greatly hampers their productivity.
The government and other actors in the education system need to understand these problems and try to find solutions, if we have to ensure better future for our children.