Attention Please: COVID-19 and Exams

When the entire nation is struggling to survive/revive from the COVID-19 pandemic attack, it is essential for all of us to plan for our future and to educate our next generation. The country is in series of Lockdown and Shutdown since mid-March 2020. Hence all the educational institutes are also completely closed now. And all the Students are confined to their homes. Many have been struggling with on-line classes, without knowing the final outcome. While on-line classes are good as a temporary measure, classroom education is essential. Low networking speed, inadequate number of smart-devices (phones, laptops, desktops, etc.), insecure software and power outages are some of the major hindrances which we all are facing as we quite simultaneously arrange for the on-line classes, work-from-home and home-based services.

Now we have reached a stage where we have to take some bold decisions for our Migrant Workers, Young Generation, Industries, Farmers, Small Scale Industries, Hotels and Tourism Industries, etc.

However, the biggest responsibility for us now is carving an overall uniform policy for our Young Generation. Their current academic year is yet to be over! Without any respite from COVID-19, starting of new academic year is also getting delayed. Today, almost all the Students, Parents/Guardians, Teachers and Academicians do not have a clear picture about the present and future of education in India. While different States are coming up with different plans, it looks like the Central Govt (MHRD) is in a mess. One should sincerely think about the mindset of our young Students, when there is either no news about classes or exams, or when there are multiple contradicting news regarding the exams!!

Is this what we all want in India and our plan to become a superpower? Why cannot we plan the exams and academic years in a considerate and thoughtful manner? Our plan should consider the difficulties being faced by the Students from rural and suburban areas as well!

Here are some observations/ suggestions based on the current situation, both for the passing out and non-passing out Students.

1. For non-passing out Students, it is not clear whether normalisation will be done for all the streams. Their schedule is also not clear. Why cannot we have an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities) ?

2. For the passing out Students in non-professional categories (without any research project), there is no clarity here too. For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

3. For passing out Students in professional categories (with research project), “extra time” should be given to Students to complete their projects (survey, experiments, slides preparations, documentations, etc.). For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. Unfinished practical classes and exams are also important for these courses. Authorities concerned should plan out an alternative way, without compromising the essence of the professional courses!!! Since lot of internal exams /quizzes/ assignments are there for professional courses, normalisation process can differ on the courses and even across Boards/Universities. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

For passing out Students, “end-date” of the current academic year is significant for their further career plans- job, higher studies, competitive exams, entrance exams, etc. In my opinion, with the prevailing situations, the “end-date” should be extended at least until September-2020. This will ensure smooth completion of their research projects & gradations.

4. Both Central & State Govts. should consult Academicians, Teachers, Students & Parents without any bias, and come up with an overall uniform plan across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

5. While the Central Govt. notifications are largely directed towards Higher Education, there must be a plan for vocational courses too including ITI, Diploma, Polytechnic, Skill Development, etc.

Recently as per the notification of MHRD, they’re taking inputs for the “next” academic year, while the “current” one is in an utter mess!!!

It is highly concerning for the Students passing out this year. Students-Teachers-Parents are obviously very worried. It is causing psychological stress too, especially since COVID-19 is peaking now. Today in utter desperation, Students are trying to reach out to authorities concerned through various social media posts- Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. But still there is no assurance for a clear-cut plan from our otherwise able Govts. !!

Request the Authorities concerned to take up this matter seriously and immediately. Right to Education is a fundamental right. So also Judiciary should intervene, if necessary.

Migrant Workers Need State-supported Counselling

It feels terrible to see Migrant Workers walk in the scorching heat on roads built by them where we drive our luxury AC cars..where we live in luxurious homes built by them. And they are doing it for hundreds of miles, with their kids in arms amid hunger, exhaustion, mistrust & uncertainties!! Some have even pawned their last remaining or little jewelleries to survive and travel back to their homes!!!

In the Maharashtra train accident case, do you know the 4 Survivors were put along with the dismembered bodies of the 16 Dead, in the same special train they attempted to board after walking 36 kms? There were no reports anywhere of any Govt Official accompanying them. They all hailed from two very remote villages in MP. And 8 among them came from Tribal communities.

It was absolutely heart-wrenching and unfair!!! 💔 What makes us believe that only the rich or the educated ones have psychological issues??

Money is not everything always. Central & State Governments should also counsel them by sending Officials /Psychiatrists /Social Workers for direct interactions with them, to assure them, win their trust back and heal their wounded souls.🙏🏼

Hope things don’t further haunt us in months to come…..

How Odisha may Excel post Lockdown 4.0

Namaskaar

These are some top points that came to my mind for rebuilding and expanding growth of ODISHA state. Pls share your inputs as well.

  1. Ration & Other Essentials Management : with the influx of native Migrant Workers, the distribution quantities and supply chains intra & inter States need to be reshuffled.
  2. Employment Issues :
    • Native Migrant Workers who are going to stay back need to be given jobs. For same type of job, it will be a competition between them and their counterparts already living in Odisha.
    • Skill-sets need to be sharpened or redefined or reshuffled.
    • All these shall apply to both the organised and unorganised sectors.
  3. Space Issues : may not be substantial, wherever the native Migrant Workers’ ancestral or/and self-acquired properties are already in place and litigation-free; and with most of offices going online now, in any case, Real Estate prices must be lowered now; Waste Management and Afforestation to be duly maintained.
  4. POSCO and Vedanta like mega-projects : let’s try to win them back!!
  5. Explore the Bay of Bengal (BOB) : for research on global climatic changes and how to better forecast the weather.
  6. Seafoods : catches have to be done without disturbing natural habitats; explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and increase exports.
  7. Food Processing Units : pickles, juices, jelly, dry snacks (baddi, lia, papadd, amba-saddha etc. ) – explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and exports.
  8. Farming & Fruits : explore advanced techniques, graft varieties lawfully, better preservation against pests, bacteria & fungi, and increase exports; ensure direct reachability with Farmers & Fruit-cultivators.
  9. Dairy Products and Odisha Sweets : apply the GI tags as soon as possible; better preservation, marketing and exports.
  10. Deep-Sea Mining, Minerals & Natural Gas : explore BOB and its adjacent Seas but with due regard to the oceanic environment.
  11. New & Renewable Energy : start windmills, install more solar power panels and explore other alternative energy sources.
  12. Defence :
    •  increase presence of Navy and Coast Guards along the Odisha coastline.
    • root out Maoists with “sustained” efforts – allow them to surrender and get rehabilitated, or let them face the bullets!
    • increase R&D facilities in DRDO, Chandipur and also build similar new centres elsewhere in Odisha; these centres should be at least supportive in nature to the existing DRDOs in the country.
  13. ITI and Diploma Trainings : increase various practical sessions for the youth in the state, so that they find at least some good job after they reach the age of 18; also the industries will need their tremendous support. Redefine their work rates, allowances, bonuses, pension plans, volunteer retirement plans, accident coverages, foreign training options, academic exchange programs, etc.
  14. Academia :
    • implement Vedic ways of life in all Schools to enhance discipline, strength, focus and harmony in children i.e. irreligiously!!
    • encourage “fundamental” Sciences, Arts, Humanities & Commerce degrees at par with Engineering or Medical degrees; build more R&D campuses and invite foreign academia, tie-ups, etc.
    • build necessary academies like Law Academy, Music and Film Academy, etc.
  15. Hospitals : increase number of quality Government hospitals throughout Odisha; do not limit things only to Bhubaneswar & Cuttack; there should be all departments including special treatment for Acid-Attack Victims, Intellectually Disabled and people affected with Rare Diseases; information databases must be maintained with other good hospitals in the country.
  16. Make an all-inclusive Society : build proper & permanent shelter-homes, and good job facilities for Transgenders, Acid Attack Victims and other members of similar category.
  17. Panchayats /Sarpanchs : empower them at the grassroot levels; provide them all latest information and adequate support to operate best with transparency.
  18. Sea Tourism across Bay of Bengal (BOB): secure fine-weather cruise expeditions to South East Asian countries.
  19. Art & Artisans (including Textiles mills) : enhance their work reachability and regularize their due sources of sustainability (including pension, allowances, etc.) from both Odisha Govt and Customers.
  20. Historical Revival : of century-old temples, monuments and museums across Odisha; name or rename certain places after the state Freedom Fighters and other personalities e.g. Netaji Nagar, Baji Rout Museum, Mohd. Mohsin Music & Theatre, Ranganath Mishra Law Academy, etc.

Learning Life Skills during Lockdown

Folks,

Positivity and Negativity related to the recent Lockdown : a different perspective……

Raised as a single child, I was brought up in the suburbs without a neighborhood. That means, I had no friends beyond school.

All these happened for 19 years until the late nineties.

I was made to focus on creative activities, book reading, gardening and learning other life skills (though I never could learn stitching..forget knitting!). Sometimes even during normal weekends, 24 hours was not enough for me to finish exploring. Those were the days when one could afford to sleep beneath the sky and watch the cosmos whole night. I am glad Russian ‘Sputniks’, small comets, changing positions of the stars and faces on the Moon are also a part of those beautiful memories.

Further, I was blessed to be in a joint family. So I had my grandparents to narrate real-life stories of their era, and some of mythology and philosophy. Sitting beside them during ‘Mantra Paath’ was made mandatory for me. I couldn’t pick all the ‘Slokaas’..but yes, it did sooth my mind and inspired my soul to a great extent!! The mornings and evenings were very blissful.

So I suggest let’s focus only on positivity and creativity for now. Counselling, Medications, etc. – yes of course, if it’s required. There should be NO stigma attached to it. The brain is after all, an organ!!! But primarily, let’s first try out things on a positive note!

So pls STOP watching sessions of how to deal with depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc. UNLESS you are “really” in need of it❗A person who has practically gone through these phases knows it is no joke or timepass.

Let’s not tell kids that we are grateful to them for their sitting quietly in the living room now. What big deal is that? Let’s gradually teach them LIFE SKILLS and how to pick up varied HOBBIES /ARTS. Space is limited in a flat to play physically. But there’s no limit for positive imaginations. Tell them how a Soldier survives in a bunker for months. Tell them how a Doctor keeps operating for hours continuously during emergencies. Tell them about our Farmers working in fields bearing heat, rain & cold. There are many such examples from history as well as daily lives of the common man. Inspire the kids to be up and doing, instead of pampering them. Affection is a completely different thing.

I have seen 8-YO urban kids making bread-toast and omlette at breakfast, serving themselves and the whole family of four. Whereas in the same period, I see 20-YO youngsters idling in the living-room with smartphones, and seeking a glass of water until it reaches them!! Last year, there was also an instance where a 14-YO teenage at a relative’s place, was managing himself and his studies in a strictly disciplined way (as taught in his hostel), though he knew he was losing his father to cancer and his mother had to be beside in the hospital!!!!

Therefore, it basically depends on what and how we TRAIN kids.

Let’s use the Lockdown phase(s) to correct or initiate ourselves vis-a-vis this special training chapter for kids and youngsters. That was the exact message conveyed by a premier institute in the country to all its students, when the Lockdown-21 began.

Despite the physical restrictions now, let’s stretch our minds like our forefathers did. Virtual connectivity is just another blessing in today’s age. Let not our answer to boredom end there. It’s only a medium to channelize our thoughts and zeal. So we need to do more, and definitely can do more.

Regards..🙏🏼

Should Students in India get into Politics?

I have been active in teaching, and associated with many universities since 1990 – as an ordinary student, as a student leader and as a faculty.

What I experienced is as follows:

(1) Students are usually brainwashed by big political masters and for a future ticket; the more one gets into violent activities, higher the chances of getting a ticket.

(2) Today, other than active education, everything else happens in the universities. That makes faculties’ lives easier; no work and all other personal activities. Productivity and quality of education too has gone down.

(3) Politics is only not to hate or fight. It is also to serve the nation. Nation comes first. Unfortunately today, political identities and hunger for power are at the top. This can bring short-term benefits to students, but later it becomes the main reason of utter regret.

(4) Today, students are being driven by media, corporate-houses and political parties “to invite Alexander to fight with Porus”. This should be condemned and stopped immediately. Very few understand the safety and integrity of the country. Most indulge in “nara-bazi” and anti-social activities.

(5) Free or heavily subsidized education is actually the major reason behind all these. One doesn’t understand the value otherwise.

Students definitely had a big role in throwing out the Britishers. But unfortunately today, British mentality has gone to the academia!

A nexus of minds – be that from academia or corporate or media or entertainment or political parties, are instigating the students for their own/selfish benefits. Students are definitely the losers, and the country is the ultimate loser!!!

Today in universities, where education is subsidized, it is impossible to find students without any political affiliation. Political affiliation is a must for their survival, which has to be stopped at any cost!

CAA – where are we heading?

Instead of instigating the students and some people of our country for political support and “vote rajniti”, can’t we channelize them in a constructive way? The recent agitation against CAA across the country is more or less a political drama. By using the youth for their vote banks, I don’t know what are we going to achieve? Is this the India we are dreaming of?? While the agitation is ill-timed and completely misguided by the “opportunistic” opposition parties, the ruling party is also to be equally blamed! While many deserving and struggling people are going to get Citizenship because of CAA, it is unwarranted to bring this kind of ammendment which only adds fuel to fire in a multi-ethnicity country. Today, illegal migrants are only being used by political parties as their vote bank. There is no consensus on how to solve this issue. Let the scars of partition heal first!!!

It could have been handled in a better way, starting with an ‘address to the nation’ by the Prime Minister of India, and/or a meeting with the Chief Ministers of all the Indian states. Many people are still “unaware of the facts” and “apprehensive of the imaginary consequences”!! The entire episode of CAA was ill-advised. Why didn’t they bring the Tibetan issues as well, and bring them to the main stream? Is the refugee status suiting them?

Don’t understand the timing of this ammendment as well. Media which is mostly controlled by political parties is giving different colors to this agitation – freedom movement, police atrocities, democratic rights, authoritarian rule and the like. Country is getting divided in many lines. While religious sentiments are important, humanity too has to be respected; can they glue the division which is becoming prominent today?

The matter has gone to the Honorable Supreme Court of India, and let them find the constitutional validity of this rule?!? It has to be thoroughly argued and debated at various levels; should not be implemented overnight or instigated as we see now❗

🇮🇳 Jai Hind 🇮🇳

Missing Parenthood in India

Recently, most of us came across the news whereby a 74-YO lady in India set a world record by delivering healthy twins via C-section, having attained pregnancy through IVF procedure. A few people have appreciated the couple’s grit at this ripe age and also, lauded the entire medical team’s sincere and well co-ordinated efforts. But most of our society has badly criticized their decision, particularly centering its questions on the upbringing of the twins and the medical ethics of the team that ultimately helped them.

My two fundamental questions to the people criticizing this event:

  1. If this medical team could do the entire procedure in a safe manner (after weighing other health vitals and doing psychological counselling) on the 74-YO lady, who has been yearning and trying for conception for 57 years, then why did other medical institutions/doctors fail at such a or similar performance earlier? Or were they just indifferent to the couple’s agony as is the case in many instances?
  2. Those who are so concerned about the twins, why don’t they come forward and adopt them later, let alone celebrating the old lady’s joy of conception and motherhood?

And I have no words for people so thankfully relating population control and childless couples!!!!!

It is easy to criticize, blame, ridicule, taunt, tease on these issues in our society. Women who fail to conceive, whatsoever be the reason, are still labelled “barren” in different jargon across India. Nothing changes it yet. For in India, motherhood still largely means through biological conception!!! Whether in cities or villages, how many people are sensible towards the women/couples somehow deprived of it? How many come forward to defend their helpless and even utterly depressive situations? In any social function, the childless women feel (made to feel actually!) a certain degree of isolation and incomplete status in their lives. They are mercilessly compared to women with children or multiple pregnancies, and rigorously questioned. It does not matter what or how much they do for themselves, their families and the society. If such childless couples divert their time and energy for philanthropic works, even then most of them are teased – “what else will you do?” Many people merely preach on adoption. But how many will go for it if it were their case? And they also later ask – “won’t you have your own genes.. own baby, at least one?” As if parenthood lies in DNA only!! Then there are couples who emotionally need their biological legacy to continue; that could be for various reasons. Likewise, there are several other issues.

It is this increasing magnitude of brunt over the years that compels many such affected women to forget every pain..every criticism, and take high risk of pregnancy irrespective of their age and even other health conditions. The attempts itself could be very traumatic. Then the mental, psychological and emotional well-being becomes all, especially as certain hormones also drastically change with increasing age. All these unleash a great amount of toll on their husbands and immediate families as well. Only a strong couple can fight the situation and sail together – whatever solution they finally choose, with or without medical assistance.

The other hugely concerning chapter for childless couples is the changed bill/laws on surrogacy in India. Well, it is good that the option is no longer commercial; so it cannot be misused. But due to ill-regulations, the genuinely infertile/intending couples are much losing it out!! Some of the current conditions of altruistic surrogacy in our country is worth a larger debate and re-consideration. For example – the surrogate mother has to be a ‘close relative’. Even if ‘close relative’ gets defined, can every such genuinely intending couple find a ‘close relative’ to be a surrogate mother? The search of fulfilling this criterion further erodes the couples’ biological clocks, and deters authorized/good fertility centers and hospitals from taking up the cases in ethical ways. And how many surrogate mothers shall come forward for an altruistic one? The ‘close relative’ provision will definitely also have emotional and psychological implications on the associated members at some point of time!! The new bill/laws also do not consider an intending biological mother’s incidental health factors like diabetes, hypertension, etc. risking a normal full-term pregnancy to make her a fit case to opt for surrogacy. Is this right? Isn’t the new bill/law rather adding to the trauma, woes and desperation of such already helpless couples? Parenthood is ridden with biological, emotional and psychological aspects. It is much beyond conception and delivery of a baby; and therefore, neither couples should be callously made to wait for indefinite time, nor they can wait beyond a certain age!

Similarly, CARA (Central Adoption Research Authority) provisions need to be modified for faster process of adoption in India.

Could all the stakeholders concerned in our country care to think on these social issues, and quickly pave real solutions for the childless couples by generating awareness, streamlining medical choices, acting within a reasonable time-frame and bettering lives? The solution should also include sensitization of the society towards empathetic behaviors with childless couples and adoption, and cheerful inclusion of adoptive parents and adopted kids in our diverse system.

 

 

Azadi – is my right or responsibility?

I completely condemn the anti-national sloganeering at JNU campus ! Particularly, it being an iconic university and the way political parties such as Congress, Leftists and AAP supported it. Ultimately it turned out to be another political agenda of non-BJP parties / supporters just like the ‘awardwapsi‘ !!

A lot of ‘tamasha‘ and ‘dramabaazi‘ – inside and outside the Parliament, in the court rooms, in the news studios, in the main stream media as well as in social media. Just wastage of our time, money and intellectual discourse. Media houses are divided completely based on their political inclinations, not on facts. People on the social media are too divided mostly as a result of their frustrations, political inclinations and common sense.

Surprisingly after 67 years of Independence we are debating over ‘Azadi‘. Like ‘garibi hatao‘ sloganeering this will only become another slogan; only to fool people for votes. ‘Dissent’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ are being misused only to achieve political goals. It is not being applied where it should be or can be.

Recent acts of certain media houses certainly opens the debate whether the media houses act for the country or against the country !!! Do they only see these events as opportunities to score their political or business mileage in the name of’Free Speech’ and ‘Azadi’ ? Many like me certainly cast serious doubt on this.

Disgusting editorials, opinions and front-page news items only reflect that the self-proclaiming ‘intellectuals’ are ‘intolerant’ and jealous of the development India is witnessing these days. The spirit and language of the so-called elite /educated /intellectual mass has sometimes made me think that I  would perhaps prefer to be uneducated, but dedicated towards the uplift of the society, and preserving the pride and dignity of my country.

However, I am also concerned with the Central Government’s response on this JNU row.

It is not yet a matter of being right or wrong; soft or harsh. But why was this hotchpotch approach and seemingly ‘no-control’ over even basic law and order ?!? Who were these ‘lawyers’ and why did their action repeat even after the SC order ?? Initially why was there no quick and solid directive? Why was a delay in taking action?  Why was then no specific /consistent statements from the Police (under Union Home Ministry) and the Ministry ?  There should have been quick and proper investigations and actions.

All these so contrary… so disappointing, especially when the supporters of the present Central Government are expecting a constitutionally justified, strict and non-sympathetic response… and additionally, some strong provision which will deter such nuisances in the future !

These nuisances and ‘dramabaazi‘ erupting often nowadays, only prove that though this country has a glorious history and unmatched legacy of brave hearts, kind hearts and geniuses, it has got miserably infected with the ignorant mass, the ‘chamchagiri‘ public, the utter selfish, the ‘satta‘ hungry and the traitors !!!!

What worries millions like me is the unwanted, disrespectful dragging of our Armed Force. Media houses, political shouting in the streets of JNU and other so called liberal universities are only pointing their frustration towards our Armed Forces. By calling them rapists, and comparing them with Maoists, these people not only show their low mentality, immature brain, selfish agenda against the nation, but also bring chaos in the society and spread hatred in many sections of it. How can they dare to insult the heroes of our Armed Forces? Is this called ‘Free Speech’ or ‘Azadi’? Are we all stupid to allow such kind of nuisance in the society?

Surprisingly, the same India where the Parliament used to get united against any external complications or aggression as well as internal turmoils, is now getting divided over silly political reasons and selfish attitude of some ‘netas‘ and their supporters. While RaGa has shown his true color after losing election, AK has shown his after winning election.

I am afraid that the BJP may again lose the next state elections – bad for the states, bad for the country – just as desired by its useless opponents, and the new breed of ‘anti-nationals’ who have been otherwise happily sleeping for the last decade over crores of corruption, appeasement, goonda-raj, and non-development chapters !!!

The ‘Make in India’ week lost the lustre on media columns. A rocky Budget Session has already started struggling in order to pass major bills and laws so awfully needed.

Again repeating what I said some months ago : absolutely high time for the Central Government to refocus, reorganize and act differently !

Aamjunta – it is your time to judge the right and wrong. Your action is needed ; not the golden silence.

Jai Hind.

Government Schools for All – a Dream !!

I am so glad and thankful to the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court for it’s recent order regarding the conditions of Govt. Schools in Uttar Pradesh. Finally the judiciary has intervened, when the executive (administration) and legislative (‘netas’) have failed in taking serious and necessary steps for our future !!!!!

school

I fully agree with the observations of the High Court that the conditions of Govt. Schools are really shabby – just one teacher for the entire school (to teach 5 classes at a time and also to do other activities like monitoring mid-day meals, counting census, poll-duties, vaccination programs, etc. !!), no building or an unsafe building, no seating arrangement, pending salary for months altogether and sometimes at a very low salary (contractual, block-grant teachers etc.), recruitment scams (VYAPAM is a live-example) and even over-crowded class rooms !!!!

Hope good sense prevails, and further litigation counts are not raised by bogus contestants of this order in the Supreme Court ! Though I am quite convinced that our Apex Court will uphold this order (if contested), but the delay in our judiciary process /system may dilute the intention. The delay could be because of backlogs, vacancies in position of respective Judges, long procedures or lack of infrastructure.

And I completely agree with the view of lakhs of fellow citizens that a Bill must be passed mandating the same in every part of India – be it in metros or remote villages, and till High School level !! If Right to Education (RTE) is a fundamental right, then it should be uniform across every strata of our society.

Only then, we can expect our present education system to change for the better – like it was even few years ago…where children later excelled in every sphere of life, despite living in remote villages; sometimes, t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r granted just one Government school !

Moreover, after paying various types of taxes and then education cess tax, why do parents nowadays have to send children to mushrooming private schools ???? Schools, where even the basic infrastructure is not there – no playground and no place for any outdoor activity !! Isn’t this sort of a financial loot (I think the term cannot be merely expensive) ?!?

Wish a similar order is passed that all ‘netas’ & their families will have to avail treatment at a ‘sarkari’ hospital only, and that they will not simply fly abroad for any medical treatment – small or big – whether at their own expenses or at the taxpayer’s expenses !! Hopefully then,  the conditions of Govt. Hospitals can be improved…….

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

Open Letter On Our Primary Education System On The Eve Of Teachers’ Day

Though I am not into professional teaching or an educational analyst or anything of that sort, since some time, I have these concerns regarding a section of latest schooling systems in India.

Just consider schooling during our generation and a little beyond. Whether cities /towns /villages, we went to “ordinary” schools… and those “ordinary” schools had almost everything required for a child to get adequately schooled :

– Safety and Security
– Discipline
– good Teachers
– responsible Support Staff
– thorough Courses
– Labs
– timely Examination schedules and proper Evaluations
– a Playground
– First-Aid facilities and a phone-call-away Doctor
– a Garden
– a School Bus with watchful Attendants
– a Store-room of books, notebooks, pencils and other accessories
– a Library
– Hostels
– an outdoor Stage
– a well-ventilated, well-lighted and sufficiently-equipped Hall where competitions /performances /extra-curricular activities were conducted on a regular basis
– various academic /motivational Presentations by external bodies (govt. or private)
– Office and Notice Boards /Circulations
– Musical Instruments
– observations for 15 Aug. /26th Jan.
– uniform celebrations of all Festivals
– a thorough conduct of Morning Assembly
– periodic teacher-parent Meetings
– easy Interactions with any teacher /principal on any working day
– due Counselling sessions
– due Recognitions /Prizes /Scholarships
– proper maintenance of all Records /Registers
– due Vaccination schedules
– Excursions /Picnics
– active participation in Social Services

Well, I agree some of these facilities like a big infrastructure or an equipped hall or musical instruments were not present in village schools but nevertheless, they were highly accomplished institutions even if one merely counts the minimum factors of good schooling. Haven’t students from these less-equipped schools following “trusted” models of curriculum, excelled later in life – whether at the national or international levels ?!? Or haven’t they excelled in any other sphere but just academics ?… Further, haven’t they been highly sought as teachers by countries where the school education models are so different or talk about some brand ?

Today in India, new type of schools focus so much on “projects” and “activities”. As far as I have observed, these are either wholly done by parents /elders or downloaded from the internet; then it is gathered as print-outs or copy-pasted onto a file (hard-copy /soft-copy) and ‘submitted’ in a day or two. So all these, mostly because of lack of time or in a bid to quickly finish the home-work and move on to the next engagement, whatever be it.

And the next engagement usually is to watch an IPL match or accompany ‘Mom’ to the mall /beauty parlour or go with ‘Dad’ to the nearest KFC outlet or get engrossed in some crap video games !! So ever wondered, how these “projects” and “activities” are really helpful for the child ?

Moreover, nowadays only a few schools (even branded ones) sport a playground – how is that justified when on the other hand, these schools are trying to focus on “projects” and “activities” for better advancement of the child ?? Yes, you got great infrastructure and wash-room facilities but playground – that’s also an inseparable part of a good school !

I find at least in some instances, today’s kids lagging in spheres that they should ideally be leading through. For example – well, its great to be wonderful at singing or swimming but first of all, with one’s usual textual lessons satisfactorily done !! Isn’t that the basic purpose (if not sole) of schooling ?

Though there are few good exceptions, I am afraid many children are moving away from even the basic grasp of subjects. “Projects” and “activities” are supposed to form a mere part of the curriculum and constructively aid in an holistic growth ! These should NOT end up consuming maximum time-energy of young minds, and then leaving them with a tired space, a yawning gape at the end of the day to imbibe the actual academic content or even to play or do physical exercises !!!!

Stress is further enhanced as nowadays our career choices and modern lifestyles have confined us (the youngest generation of parents) in already choked urban areas; and even kids have to start the day at 6 AM or earlier (i.e. board the school bus) and are able to reach back home around 5 PM or later (because of traffic or/and tuitions).

Irrespective of any rule, some schools don’t even conduct at least the basic tests /exams. That makes both the child and parents completely indifferent to academics ! Whether or not they understand the tasks – they are only focussed on finishing the “projects” and “activities” at any cost, by any means and timely ‘submitting’ it at school. That’s what the design of some new type curriculum dictates in many such schools.

Where is the space and time needed to r-e-a-l-l-y grow ? In the hustle-bustle, its also so difficult for parents /guardians /teachers to find a niche to quietly unwind, deeply assess children’s progress and properly interact amongst themselves. I am not hinting at the mechanical routine meetings or discussions but at the r-e-a-l assessment !

And regarding all sorts of fees –  it is needless to mention their inexplicabilities and almost exponential hike-curves ! And on top of that, we also pay a considerable Education Tax !! Why ?

In my opinion, it would do us genuine good if we could go back and stick to the “trusted” version of our schooling that concentrated MOSTLY on the essential features of “academics”, and then wisely balanced the REMAINING portion with extra-curricular “activities” or “projects”. Let’s revive and maintain that old proportion or healthy balance !!!

Of course, I agree – perhaps with the inclusion of some modifications that would best suit India’s budding future (as recommended by educated and experienced Academicians, Social Scientists and Child Psychologists).

But unfortunately, the new models have paced up so drastically that now many of us perhaps don’t have options. Every school in the neighbourhood to the one 15 kms away appears the same. Still, if possible, let’s give a thought and try to revive the “trusted” version of our education system (albeit with approved modifications), starting right with primary-level schools.

While framing policies and making rules per se India, let us keep certain aspects in mind. Here below, I have briefly listed three major ones :

1. Let us ensure a measured degree of uniformity in the country’s education system. Let NOT there be any sort of discrepancy which may cast even the faintest shadows of division across the rungs of our society !! Why thrust the burden of non-uniformities on children and ask them to cope with it ? Let’s be sensible and responsible in the most sincere terms.

2.  Secondly, let NOT educational reforms be mere short-term ones or based on vote-bank politics ! For example, presently the RTE facilitates free education for children up to 14 years and the Government-directed reservations in this category stand at 25 % in each school. But have you ever thought – what is going to happen to these children after 14 years of such schooling ? Ideally, that sums up just the 8th standard. Are there any reservations /provisions for owning up an “extended” support for their “complete” development or is their fate going to confront a full-stop, thereafter ? Then what is the ultimate purpose of such a facility ? A drop-out at that level, particularly from a brand school, is definitely going to struggle more !!… Moreover, it may make matters worse if we suddenly let go their tender hands; a young age as 14 years is too vulnerable to get trapped amidst anti-social elements and get lost into some dangerous anonymity !!!

3. Thirdly, can we possibly weigh options to NATIONALIZE various schools just as we nationalized banks ? It will not only maintain a definite standard (courses, fees, exams, activities, etc.) and uniformity but also build better check-posts of transparency and accountability in every department !

Let’s mind more about exploring the inner sheen than just meeting the expectations of a glamorous exterior !

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