The Elite And The Ordinary!
In India, due to the British influence, the term "public schools" implied non-governmental, historically elite educational institutions, often modeled on British public schools. However, more recently the term 'public' has been used much more loosely and can refer to any type of schools that take pride in publicizing themselves as English medium schools, and are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE). One of the supreme ironies, of course, is that even sixty years after securing independence from the British, we are still slave of the English education system, which has divided our society into two parts, the elite and the ordinary. Those who can afford to send their children to public schools are considered to come from the elite part of the society, and the rest, of course, are the ordinary folks. And yet another irony is that the middle class, who may not be able to afford the exorbitant price of public schools, still try their best for admission of their children into those schools, even if they have to suffer severe financial strain for being included amongst the elite. Unless the government starts to show some serious thinking on the subject, we will be stuck with a system which cripples state education, preserves the class structure and permits a few thousand frightening, retentive educational institutions to rule over us, and extract as much as they can from the poor parents.
Is there any way to save our government school system? Yes . First and foremost, the government must demolish the division in the school system by moving forward with uniform, national standardized testing for all schools, government and public, under one central board of education. Along with this we need to establish solid and uniform academic standards for grade promotion and graduation in all schools. Next, we need to better attune education in government schools to the experiences, interests, and aptitudes of today's young people. We know that the chance of success is limited for a child that comes from a home where the parents are unable to afford time and environment for education of their children. Although requiring parents to be actively involved in their children's education is a thorny issue, government school systems should require school administrators to have conferences and even workshops with parents whenever their children run into academic or disciplinary problems.
Here is an example of a principal of a government school, if followed by other principals, I am certain government schools will prove no less than any private school in imparting good education. This principal was so perfect in her profession that whichever school she was transferred to, amongst hundreds of schools under Delhi Administration, she turned it into the best school in the district. The administration very often shifted her to one of the weakest schools with the objective of improving its ratings, and the posting invariably proved rewarding for the school. Once they transferred her to a school that no principal ever wanted to put her foot in, as it was sure to bring her a bad name, and no one wanted to blemish his or her career by being in that school. As was expected of her, she accepted the challenge very cheerfully, and began to work in right earnest to bring up the school. It was located in poorest of the neighborhoods, where living conditions did not allow the students to study at home, even to do their homework. She had to work very hard on that school, meeting every parent to personally persuade them to improve the environment for studies at home, and to dissuade them from forcing their wards to work for a living while they needed to work hard on their studies for a better life ahead. In one year she had made so much difference that it was difficult for the officers in the education directorate to believe the school's results that took the top ranking amongst all the schools in the district. The community started worshipping the Principal and would not let her leave when the administration again wanted to transfer her to improve another weak school after some time. The entire community, hundreds of men and women marched to the administration office in procession to protest the transfer and to plead for the principal to stay in the school. It was for the first time in the history of Delhi schools when the parents went that far to force the administration to cancel transfer orders of a principal.
There is no dearth of dedicated principals and teachers in government schools. If only the government gives them their due recognition and encouragement, there is no way the government schools would be left behind even the best of public schools, and do not succeed in demolishing the division of the society, born out of the existing school system, into the elite and the ordinary.