“It Is My School And It’s My Responsibility”

by | Dec 15, 2017

The thought started when I overheard a conversation between 2 mothers

(M1) mother 1 asked (M2) mother 2 “what is your son studying?”

M2 said, “he is studying 8th standard”.

“which school does he go to?”

“Arathi school”

“Is it a government school or private school?”

What makes the school a school? Do students, teachers, headmaster, parents make a school? Or the belief of its society? If you put government (public) or private in front of school does it change its meaning? Does it change the way you look at the school? Does it change the way you look at their children? What do you think?

I studied in private school where I had to wear clean pressed uniform with clean polished black shoes and tie everyday in the morning and be on time in school premises, as we assemble in line class wise. Where me and my friends fought each other to stand in end of the line. Yes, you heard correctly because we did not want to get noted by the principal which might lead a lot of work.

I spoke to the number of parents whose children belong to some government (public) schools and some private schools over the last few months as a fellow here in Quest Alliance, my host organization in Samastipur, Bihar. During these conversations, i found that there is notion or belief among the majority of the people that the private school are better than the government school. I always hear stories like government school are not disciplined, they don’t start the classes on time, they don’t teach lessons properly, they don’t check their students homework, they do not support or inspire their children, they don’t have proper facilities and it keeps on going and going. But the faith towards private schools is quite contrary. This belief is been passed from society to parents, parents to children and children to friends …

The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5. According to an article published at Indiaspend, April 2017 by Devanik Saha, in between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the enrolment of students in government schools across 20 Indian states decreased by 13 million, as the private schools acquired 17.5 million new students. According to this March 2017 research paper by Geeta Kingdon Gandhi, professor of education and international development at the Institute of Education in London,

  • The average enrolment in government schools where teachers are paid, on average salaries that are 4 times those in China declined from 122 to 108 students per school over 5 years, while it rose from 202 to 208 in private schools
  • According to District Information System for Education (DISE) and education ministry data still, 65% of all school-going children in 20 states, about 113 million, continue to get their education from government schools
  • It also shares that The National Sample Survey (NSS) which is an annual household survey, periodically collects information on education, like in 1995-96, 2007-08 and again in 2014-15. Where NSS is a household survey and not a school survey, it nevertheless has valuable information on enrolment in different school types, which helps in cross-checking the data of school censuses (such as DISE) and surveys (such as ASER), and it also furnishes data on household expenditure on education in different types of school – government, aided and private.

As I mentioned about notion or belief that private schools are better than government ones can be supported by the study, which uses DISE data, traces that people believe private schools offer better value for money and better teaching than government schools. The preference for private school education and the differences in learning outcomes of private and government schools vary between states. For instance, in 2015-16, in Uttar Pradesh, over 50% of children studied in private schools, while in Bihar, less than 4% of children attended private schools, according to DISE data.

The research paper also says that multiple evaluations after controlling for students’ home backgrounds indicate that “children’s learning levels in private schools are no worse than, and in many studies better than, those in government schools”.

During the interactions with headmasters, teachers of government school, some of the complaints were that students don’t attend the schools regularly, parents do not attend the parent-teacher meeting and students don’t have books etc … also most of them believe that private school don’t have problems and all their students are intelligent and so on, during that I shared one of my experience about some of the private schools I visited earlier. There the students were well dressed, coming on time, books were provided, chairs to sit, which looked like a well-defined school to society  – yet on the inside there was no activeness in studying, learning or participating.

When I interacted with the students, they told that teachers are not teaching effectively and they are not giving them any support. When I interacted with teachers they informed students does not show any interest during classes, they don’t do homework on time, parents do not attend parent-teacher meeting, they  don’t have any interest towards their children education. And when I asked parents they told that the teachers are not teaching properly, they don’t check the homework, the school are not taking interest and so on.

One thing that captured me when I visited one of the government school in Samastipur, Bihar. It was around 9am in the morning, a group of students took the broom and started cleaning the premises, some were collecting fallen dry leaves and plastic covers. Once it was done, I called them and asked

“Which classes you belong to?”

They replied, “we are from class 6 and 7”.

Why do you clean school?

One out of the group replied, “it is my school and it’s my responsibility” and the rest of them echoed.

Then I wonder who said government school are not teaching anything valuable to life and how many private school students talk about responsibility if I were to ask the same question?

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. – Albert Einstein

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  1. Anupama Pain

    Your writing’s simplicity is heart warming Shashi. I love reading when you write :-). To be able to see and hear the simplest of things and turning them into realizations is a gift; keep practicing!

    • Shashidhar S A

      Thank you so much


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