Are we discussing the narrative about government schools and the government education system in the right way?
Since we started working on rural education in Karnal district, Haryana, we have closely witnessed the web of complex and often intersecting challenges that a government school faces. Over the past few decades, the government schools in villages have remained as the last resort for those unable to spend money on their child’s education. As these people come from underprivileged and working class, their active involvement in their child’s education has been challenging for them. At the village level, it is difficult for these people to push for betterment of education delivery in government schools because of lack of social, political and financial support.
There are thousands of government schools in our country from the urban areas to the remotest villages. The poor state of education in the government schools has often been discussed in the news, on social media and in the general public. From our first-hand experiences on the ground, we mapped the challenges faced by government schools at three broad levels; Community, School and Government.
Then there are multiple challenges at each of these three levels right from lack of infrastructure, lack of motivation in teachers, poor learning environment to low levels of parental education, negative perception about government schools, top-down policy decisions, etc. etc. Now, the most common question pops up into mind – “Can there be a single solution for improving the government schools?”
The most straightforward answer to this question is “No”. When we have a web of complex challenges how can we have a single solution? Education is a broad theme to work upon and has multidimensional challenges; there are organizations/individuals working on mitigating these challenges through innovative practices. We (development professionals, government & individual citizens) need to look at these innovative practices and replicate them at our own level.
As we move forward, we pose a question for us to think upon - Are we discussing the narrative about government schools and government education systems in the right way?
Government schools don’t have independent identities, in every district there will be some schools which are providing good quality education and there are schools which lack many indicators of RTE. Which government schools are often discussed in public; the good one or the bad one? Most of the time we see negative reports, news articles about the unavailability of facilities in government schools. As government schools don’t have independent identities, nor do they have funds for marketing it is difficult to promote them and remove the negative perception from the minds of people.
We hardly come across people who are sending their children to government schools even if private school affordability is not a challenge to them. But we come across many people on the every-day basis who can’t afford private school fees yet they choose private schools to send their children. This gives us an interesting topic to discuss in the next newsletter. Leaving us to think with one last question; What can we do as individual citizens to improve the access of quality education to each and every child?