School enrollment, dropout rate, low language and arithmetic skills and the absenteeism among the children and teachers have become a routine discussion that does not evoke curiosity. Always the focus stretches across Govt. schools and their counterpart in the rural areas where children from economically backward status study. Since there are lots of Private schools in the urban areas, there is always an assumption that the situation is better and issues of education remains only for one section of the community, the economically and socially backward. Low grade Govt. school Vs High standard Private-English- school is a stereotype that overwhelmingly influences the mass especially urban middle class. It is very obvious that the middle class who is desperately in search of their economic upward mobility blindly believe Private institutions as the panacea for all the problems in the Govt. institutions.
Let’s see what happens in the mainstream successful schools? They all have a legacy of their children going out of the school ‘with flying colors’- what is described as ‘Hundred per cent success’. The strategies and formula of success begin from the enrollment of children in the pre- primary or primary class. Conducting interviews even for primary school (recently I found a Centre for coaching preprimary children to get admission in one of the mainstream schools), result oriented teaching practices, cramming sessions, rigorous disciplinary actions, firm focus on curriculum, continuous exam oriented drills and minimum extra- curricular activities are some of the common strategies practiced. The situation becomes awful along with peer and parental pressure on children for ultimate objective of best academic achievements.
It is common that children with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities are always excluded from enrolling in these schools as they pose threat to the system to the extent that some school are feared of bad parental opinion for the belief that such children’s presence would minimize the competency of their abled children. The so called ‘slow learners’, children with learning disabilities, children with hyper activity and behavioral issues are already screened during the interview by experts. Among the several applicants the luckiest ones with best performance and some children having parents of high influence are getting admitted.
More interestingly parents blindly believe the admission into the popular schools make their children’s future secure unmindful of what happens on the school campus. They do not even care the absence of individual care due incongruous teacher student ratio which sometimes accedes 1:50. Stereotype teaching methods, adopting disciplinary measures that would stifle the child’s innate curiosity to experience and know new things, class room rules that do not accept and respect the rights of child to make decisions and participate in the decision making, authoritarian decision making of the school management to control the children with multiple interest, behavior, learning capabilities by suppressing their expressions and such many other practices leads to breed stereotyped successful children.
School management believes it is their duty to ‘produce’ success through rigorous management and teachers believe they have to be part of the system for their survival, job security and above all for the convenience of their job. The situation become dreadful when teachers do not foster diversity, creativity, freedom of expression and more importantly democratic practices in the classroom which are beyond imparting knowledge and skills. The million dollar question is how they can deal with souls and hearts rather than performing stereotype teaching method in front of a passive audience of young buds.
It is important for our mainstream school system to recognize and accept diversity and embrace the values of preparing the young minds to find meaningful life, for that they should respect rights of child and childhood and give opportunity for every child an opportunity for growth and development without discrimination for any reasons. Schools should be a place where all kinds of children live together, experience life, understand the broad spectrum of world and find means of cooperation rather than cut throat competition. In such an environment the scope education and role of educators could be stretched beyond producing stereotype breeds but the realization of the basic reality of life that is the significance and beauty of diversity.