This is a synopsis of my book, “What Ails Our Schools?”
The large number of Indians who have excelled academically the world over is evidence to the importance assigned to education in India. It is a miniscule fraction of Indians who are doing well in the international arena. The reasons are not far to seek. This book seeks to provide an inward look into our educational system.
The importance given by the State to education in general and schools in particular, varies from time to time. Nowadays one hears more harmony in the views of the State but the examination system is now being subjected to some strange experiments. Ultimately it is the students who suffer.
Teaching as a profession is not a coveted one. Few students of today want to be teachers tomorrow. Teachers do not receive much support from seniors, management, and society at large. The support that they get at home is conspicuous by its absence. Often one comes across women taking up teaching as the last option.
The book discusses the challenges posed and faced by schools, teachers and principals. The role to be played by the management and the parents is addressed. The challenges posed by students figure in many contexts. The students are never blamed for anything. The book keeps the students in the focus.
There are schools which are run by a closed society for the benefit of the wards of its members. Such schools are labelled as “captive schools.” In such schools the members of the management are not necessarily experienced educationists. The scourge of favouritism which afflicts all spheres of the society, dogs such institutions. Because of the fabric of the teaching staff trade unions often vitiate the atmosphere. The practice of “give and take” between teachers and their wards borders on malpractice.
The principal and senior teachers have a duty to support junior teachers and nurture the good ones but in some schools the good teachers are crushed by the seniors by professional jealousy. Principals wantonly look the other way. Innovations introduced by teachers are denounced. Principals are often afraid of the more vociferous among the staff and would willingly sacrifice the good teacher so as not to displease the others. Lack of professionalism is seen everywhere. However, the students are invariably more discerning and they see it all. It is not good for the health of the institution. Teachers face many problems because of the varied responsibilities assigned to them. Paper correction has to be done with extreme care as the future of the student depends on it. There is much scope for improvement in the system.
Principals on their part face many problems. Teachers have a tendency to form groups among themselves. They are not given to punctuality. The same culture extends to students. The management often treats the Principal with less than the respect due one with so much responsibility. They may even encourage the supervisors either deliberately or unwittingly. The absence of the right kind of support to the Principal has negative effects on education. It is the student again who bears the brunt.
The principal has to be creative and encourage the creative teachers. Parents have a responsibility in interacting sensibly with the school. Students should not be pressured to perform. The management should provide the necessary support to all. Education should not be restricted to an academic exercise.
Examples drawn from the experience of the author and her colleagues demonstrate these facts.
The book is not a compilation of challenges only. Every time a challenge is discussed, a possible solution is also suggested in the book.