Monday, December 11, 2023

Is our education ‘child-centric’ or ‘school-centric’?

[dropcaps round=”no”]D[/dropcaps]espite RTE Act, we have not changed much. Our ideas about education have not changed much. And our schools and educationists too have not changed much. Although RTE Act has been discussed and debated at length throughout the country, especially among academicians, the attitude of teachers and the orientation of schools have not changed a bit.

It is really disappointing to read news about schools and the managements of different schools violating various provisions of RTE Act with impunity and with regularity. And in most cases no action is being taken against the schools who violate the Act and also take pride in it. The education department and the government do not seem interested in enforcing the Act. After all, we still feel that teachers and schools make no mistakes, while students always have a tendency to err.

The news that one well-known school has thrown out a junior class student on the grounds that his parents had submitted fake birth certificate was interesting. In this case, the parents had committed a grave crime. But, the school chose to punish the child. The school management could have easily reported the matter to the police for cheating and fraud. It was an option that the school management did not exercise. However, it chose the easy option of throwing the child out of the school. Some justice it was! It is this kind of mentality and attitude that RTE Act aims to address. However, the lack of will and lack of method in the education department is allowing school managements to fiddle with the provisions of RTE Act.

In another instance, another well-known school of Jamshedpur, has unwillingly promoted junior class children to the next class. But, it did not forget to mention in the mark-sheet of the allegedly poorly-performing students that they were being promoted under the provisions of RTE Act. Now, what does it show? It shows that the schools have not yet imbibed the spirit of the Act. In fact, they are mocking the spirit of the Act by mentioning that the students are being promoted under fear of the Act. Just think of it! Imagine a man sending a card to his wife saying – “I did not burn you because of Anti-Dowry Act.” Or declaring that he did not rape someone because of the tough provisions of Anti-Rape Law.

No, dear principals, brides are not to be burnt, not only because it is criminal to do so, but because it is inhuman and a crime against the society and individuals. Rape is not desirable, not because it is illegal, but because it is completely criminal and inhuman. Similarly, a child should not be detained in junior classes, not because it is illegal to do so, but because it is completely inhuman, injudicious, profane, sinful, unethical and violative of basic canons of education. Imbibe the spirit! Because the spirit is more important than the letter.

It is sad that while principals and school managements get away with such crass criminal behaviour, children are made to feel guilty for even small mistakes. Even as small a mistake as not wearing the right uniform, not wearing well-polished shoes or not bringing the right notebook in the class.

Our education is still principal-centric, teacher-centric and school-centric. It is yet to be made child-centric. To make our education child-centric, we would require much more than an RTE Act.

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