India is a country where it is not unusual for people to hold prejudices against the functioning of the government schools. This often goes to the extent of seeing any student passed out from these schools as not being academically credible or from a financially poor background. This idea about the Government schools in India is an outcome of various loopholes that have existed in the education system of the country for long.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was passed in 2009, which made India one of the few countries that assures ‘education’ as a fundamental right to students below 14 years of age. Much appreciated as this step is, one cannot overlook the problems that are needed to be resolved via micro-planning and implementation.
In families with lower income, family members are seen more as human resource than a human asset. This being so, families mostly prefer their children to earn and contribute to financial stability at present than to invest their energy in building a bright future. Therefore, these students leaving their studies in the middle to join some job with a meagre pay is a common scenario. Problems also exist at the teaching front. Lack of proper curated training results in inefficient utilization of the knowledge of teachers. This further gets exacerbated with cumbersome data handling, duties unrelated to teaching, etc. which are both mentally and physically exhausting leaving teachers with very less to give to the students. Also, most of the staff in school committees are not paid, thus not giving a sense of professionalism which ultimately either puts the burden again on teachers or leads to leakage of funds. This also enhances the interaction of teachers with the locals. Although, this adds positively to the running of the schools mostly, but teachers becoming a victim of local politics, prejudices, etc. in some cases shall not be put under the blanket. For instance, recently, a lot of teachers felt threatened while going to houses for some official work as the locals and villagers wrongly thought they were working for the NRC. Only when students and teachers are shielded against such situations, the true ‘Guru-Shishya’ relation can build, ultimately contributing to the society.
Counting the steps taken onto the path of progress, we must appreciate certain initiatives too. The ‘Skill India Mission’ for example can train students in vocational courses that could help them once they complete their education making them job ready. The National Education Policy 2020, proposal to enable these students to attain internships would relieve them of financial burdens and also encourage them to attend their schools regularly. In this, skill centres could be opened in school premises itself. Also, passed out students at any school, who are jobless could be absorbed in these skill training centres with some minimum stipend.
As for the teachers, the recently concluded NISHTHA training, one of the largest teachers training programs of the world is worth mentioning. More such initiatives would take us a long way. Also, the proposal to relieve the teachers from non-teaching jobs like managing the Mid-Day Meal in the National Education Policy, 2020 would help them focus more on their real work, which is, teaching. Also, removing the rigid silo system in education, extending the right to education up-till 18 years of age and many more are steps in the right direction provided the implementation is proper. After all, the essence of planning is undoubtedly intention and execution.