Primary education reforms that India can’t wait for
There is a considerable anxiety and a little bit of cynicism at all levels of educational systems about the seriousness with which government really wants to bring about reforms. Part of the reason is that it is not listening to the most important hub of educational machinery which is the inspired teachers. Unless the HRD Minister spends every week at least one day in listening to outstanding teachers of different disciplines and teaching at different levels ranging from primary to higher education, she would not get to understand what does it take to perform, persuade, persist and inspire. If these teachers could do so much in the existing system, how much more can they do if the system redesign takes place according to their wishes. I am convinced that people earned the right to critique by creating benchmarks of outstanding performance within the existing constraints.
Can we deliver multimedia, multi-language content for school children in every single school by the summer of 2015 by motivating students who have performed very well and have joined the higher education stream? Even voluntarily, such a task is doable by the students in IITs and IIMs.
Can the experiences of outstanding teachers available at sites like teachersastransformers.org be shared in local language with every district education officer and institution?
Can we give one day off to outstanding teachers to visit different schools and share their pedagogy and content to influence children as well as teachers?
Can we put the names of those students who achieved significant positions in life after studying in that school, a kind of roll of honours? I saw such a list in a government school in Nasik during our Shodhyatra and I have never seen anywhere else.
Can we put at least ten posters based on creative ideas of children with potential to change the society and solve some local problems in every school in the next three months? Many readers may know that under IGNITE competition, Honey Bee Network and National Innovation Foundation [NIF] have recognized children from class one or two as well at the hands of Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, former President of India. There is no reason to assume that such an exposure will not inspire more children to imagine better solutions. Recently, I invited a 12 year old student, Chhaya from a government school, Gandhinagar to my class at IIMA as a guest faculty. The idea was to learn from her as to how she sensed a problem, identified the solution and later with the help of community and teachers, saw its implementation as well. If every school started building this value of impatience with inefficiency, the sanskar of our society will not take too long to change.
Can we ensure that every school gets some space from the village community or urban authorities to do gardening on the ground or terrace so as to come in touch with nature and learn to nurture it? Similarly, a microscope and other tools of science lab must be provided to every single school in a year’s time. Instead of giving cheap food under the Food Security Act to those who neither demand it nor deserve it, i.e., the non-poor, enough resources can be generated to sparkle the learning journey of our children.
Every school ought to have a library. If King of Gondal in Gujarat could make education of girls compulsory and create library in every school 100 years ago, there is no reason to find excuses to escape from this responsibility today.
There are outstanding achievers, knowledge holders, performers, sculptors, masons, artists, farmers, mechanics, artisans, etc., in and around every school. It doesn’t cost anything to invite them to schools to share their skills, perspective and life experiences with children at the time of prayer assembly. Getting 300 such achievers every year would also mean looking for such people. The character of the country will change when instead of inviting other influence people, the social achievers are given place of primary importance. Every school can have an innovation club as triggered by the Hon’ble President to search, spread and celebrate innovations and sense the unmet needs.
Children will learn to identify the unmet needs of our society at an early age and also celebrate the goodness all around. On 15th August, children should be exposed to the outstanding achievers of the village. On January 26, they should be interacting with extraordinary achievers of nearby villagers.
An impatient, imaginative and innovative India will come about in a short time span if we begin to appreciate the indigenous achievers of our society.
To be continued…..