Location: Adarsh Senior Secondary Government School at Mandwa village in Kotda block of Udaipur
I reached the school at my regular time. The children were scheduled to take tests that day and the next. Since there would be no classes for two days, I decided to utilize my time by asking one of the teachers if he required some help. He handed over two bundles of rolled sheets of paper and asked me to correct them. They were the test copies of Mathematics and Hindi. I asked for the question paper, the answer script and the marking scheme. He verbally told me all three.
The first bundle was of Mathematics. Only questions were scribbled on the sheet I had picked. No answers. The writing was illegible. I found it hard to digest that the test paper was written by a seventh grader. Unknown of what to do with the sheet, I kept it aside. The second test paper was the same. On the third one, there was an answer. Yes! This girl had solved the first question of multiplication. After a few minutes, the teacher came to me and inquired about the sheets I had kept aside. When I told the reason, he smiled, picked up those sheets and said:
“बच्चे ने प्रश्न तो उतारे हैं ना! तो उसको तीन नंबर, जिसने एक आध सवाल सही किया है उसको दे दो चार नंबर और जिसने 2 से ज़्यादा सवाल करे हैं और लिखावट अच्छी है, उसको पूरे पाँच|”
“पर सर ये तो गलत है ना! जिस बच्चे को कुछ आता ही नहीं उसको कैसे नंबर दे दूँ?”
“अरे मैडम , ये बच्चे कुछ नहीं जानते और इन्हें कोई सिखा भी नहीं सकता| इनकी वजह से हम अपना रिकॉर्ड क्यों बिगाडे| अगर नंबर कम लिखे तो फिर ऊपर वाले हमसे पूछेंगे की इतने कम नंबर कैसे आये| आप जल्दी से बिना देखे कॉपी जाँच दो| फिर मुझे बोल देना, मैं नंबर चढ़ा दूंगा|
Location: Upper Primary Government School at Sulav village in Kotda block of Udaipur
I was there to talk the school authority, about our Learning Festival. It was a day before the vacations were to begin. We assembled in the school ground to inform the children about the festival. I quickly glanced at the classrooms to ensure that all the kids are with us. Except one, all classrooms were vacant. It had two teachers with children sitting in three groups.
Each group had one or two books in the center. The children were looking at the books while their hands scribbled content on sheets of paper, one given to each student. I found it strange. The teachers smiled when they saw me. Habitual of such smiles by now, I had an idea of the situation. The children were writing their last mid-term exams of the season. One of them got up and walked up to the teacher with his query from the question paper.The teacher looked and rushed out of the classroom with a phone in his hand. I followed.
He went to a place where there was network and started searching online, a solution to the question the child had asked. He saw me, but he didn’t flutter. As soon as he found the answer, he rushed inside the classroom and discloses it to the children…
At both the instances above, I have pinched myself to believe my eyes, to make sense of places where administrative visits make teachers sit inside the classrooms, where teachers help the children cheat in their exams or sometimes write it for them, where primary teachers find the children too young to be taught and for the senior teachers, they are too naive as they lack fundamental knowledge.
These cases are just two among the many that I have observed, experienced first-hand and sadly have been a part of. The one question that repeatedly strikes me whenever I am exposed to such situations, is that of Accountability. Who is responsible for learning of these children in a scenario where the teachers are more motivated to improve their records? Why should children even come to a place like school when they know they are going to be promoted to the next class anyway?
The parallel reality created in these records is not going to harm anyone but the children whom we envision as the torchbearers of this great nation, the ones who are currently being used as scapegoats.
Magan who sits with me in class 8 still finds it difficult to distinguish between d and b. Fanta from class 9 is learning how to add numbers. The Mandwa School never ever had a science and a Math; yet, every child has passed in these subjects. How can one justify this reality if one only looks at it through those forged sheets of paper tainted with blue and red ink?