Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A frank audit of schooling for the poor

This is for all the people working in educational sector for the poor and who are pushing for getting every child into the present conventional educational model which is the usual kindergarten, 10+2 model with a 10th and 12th board exam.

Wanted to just share a dissenting thought process I've been having. Acknowledging the ground realities of under-resourced schools, do you think it's a good idea to cram 30 children under a tin shed for 4/5 hrs everyday in the name of educating them? For the time period that it will take to build an infrastructure that is worthy of their attendance, wouldn't they be better off being where they themselves wish to be? What evidence is there to suggest that they won't learn essential life skills by being out rather than being crammed into those dehumanising spaces day after day? Who gave us the right to decide that forcing them like this is better for their future?

I'm just trying to highlight the extents of what suffering we can inflict upon these children in the name of helping them, because of failing to pay attention to the devil in the details. Liberal education may be perceived to be for  just the rich in this country right now, but I see a real need and potential for democratic education models for the poor. What if the children crammed into that room were given free access to this classroom 24/7, and were given the right to exercise the "Law of two feet", under which if you don't want to be part of something going on, you simply get up and walk out without anyone restricting your right to control where your body locates itself? I think those kids will be able to get themselves educated much better in such a model, plus they will escape the fate of being indoctrinated into an inherently anti-democratic and inhuman way of life.

A common defense I hear is the mid-day meal scheme. I have a serious issue with that:
Should the mid-day meal provision for these kids who need it, be an institution-membership conditionality? Shouldn't we rather use those funds to set up community kitchens that feed every child living there regardless of whether or not they're enrolled? Why is a life-and-death situation being used as a hook for getting kids into school? To me, this looks like the equivalent of putting a gun on the child's head and telling her parents that their child shall allowed to live only if she gets enrolled in my institution.

And then, of course, the obvious "without a 10th pass/12th pass certificate they won't get admission to college, jobs"...
Then in light of the ground realities of people being able to learn and master valuable skills regardless of certification;
In light of our own realities of large numbers of us thriving in job roles that we were never formally trained for,
Or in light of the fact that majority of the syllabus we were made to "learn" for 12 years isn't of any use to us or we don't remember most of it,

Shouldn't all the millions we're currently spending in education, be rather directed towards lobbying and getting colleges and companies to alter their intake criteria? (which they selectively alter anyways for some extra cash or on basis of referrals) Wouldn't that be a much more efficient usage of resources, rather than a 12-year roundabout method that has a proven pathetic turnover ratio plus disastrous side-effects? Are all the people wanting to make a better future for the children of this country really incapable of convincing some 1000-odd industrial bosses and ministers, that we have to instead resort to making millions of children jump through a series of inhumane hoops? Why are we still sticking to an assumption despite it having been thoroughly disproved? Taking a realistic audit of resources available, efficiency of alternative paths and output realities, where should we rather be directing our energies?

Am I better off putting my child through this anti-democratic, disempowering, traumatizing system for most of her childhood and youth, or will I have better luck simply investing all that time, energy and resources in creating opportunities for my child that will sustain her even without a bloody certificate?

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