The Tale of the Two by G S Madhav Rao
Public Vs Private - Part 1
This article is Part - 1 of the two part series.
By G S Madhav Rao
Those were the times when classes were held on the floors of temples or under thatched roofs. Teachers at those places were mostly high school graduates. They focused on language and arithmetic. They were private schools and the teachers collected small amounts just enough to feed the family and meet some basic needs. Teachers received a bonus when a student brought in some vegetable, fruit or grain sent by their parents. Panchayats, municipalities or the state governments, even in those days, were short on delivery. Those were the times when it was compulsion for parents to send their children to farm jobs. Educating a child was not a priority.
Those were also the times when some aided private schools did a bit better. Then there were truly charitable trusts or religious bodies that owned the social responsibility by starting schools on very nominal fees. Donation was not a bad word as they came voluntarily or through persuasion for a noble cause. Those were the times when employed middle class believed that a degree certificate in the hands of their children was ultimate to ensure good life and sent their children to aided private schools or private schools run by charities on a minimal fee. Convent schools were much sought. Elite schools were less than ten across the country to where businessman, bureaucrats or erstwhile maharajas sent their wards.
Central, state or local governments built many schools since independence. These and aided schools were flooded with pupils.
Many of my generation and that of next decade who were products of these schools did well both in academics and careers. Yet there were dropouts and failures. Many children stayed at home and worked on fields. While government efforts increased enrolment, standards fell. Enrolments increased in private schools.
Private school proliferation suited governments of the day. They could hide their failure to provide quality education which was its responsibility to people. Unfortunately some of the government and aided schools that provided free education deteriorated or closed! The reason is not far to seek. It was all in the backyard of governance. These schools were not allowed to transform with a noose that was symbolic of’ do what we say’ around their neck. Starved of change, quality manpower and funds, these schools struggled for oxygen. These schools no more could meet parental aspirations.
Teachers at these schools had no time to teach. They were asked to serve political bosses day in and day out. They were government’s errand boys (girls) sent on duty to polling booths, census and campaigns to surveys. Government textbooks never reached on time. School inspections were stopped. Teacher absenteeism went unchecked. Teachers waited for salaries for months. Funds for improving required resources were not made available. School libraries were sorry places. Schools/teachers had no accountability. Allocation for education was the lowest. It appeared that politicians never wanted country to be educated. Parents had no voice! Anything one gets free that one gets bullied to receive the worse!
Governments never wanted English as medium nor did they allow a choice (We are a democratic country!)Hapless parents sent their children to English medium private schools. Knowing English was the mantra for jobs. Public Schools lost numbers. As time passed, some were shut down or were merged. More of these may go….
This article is Part - 1 of the two part series ‘The Tale of the Two’.
Read Part 2 here.
G S Madhav Rao
CEO Synergy School Systems,
Formerly CAO, GEMS India,
Executive Principal, OOEHS, GEMS, Dubai
Principal, Delhi Public School, Nalco Nagar