By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
Elections come and go but hardly the condition of education in the country ever make it to the manifesto, what does reach the declaration statement is the reservation in education but despite all the glittery language the condition remains grim. The problem is not only the access to education but also of disparity.
To better explain my point, I’d like to take the case of children living at orphanage called Sharda Balgram run by Ram Krishna Mission, Gwalior where I got the opportunity to interact and mentor these kids. The children, all from impoverished backgrounds, stay in hostels at Balgram premises and study at a school also inside the orphanage premises. Some of the kids were rescued from the streets where they were forced into labor or begging. Though the orphanage provides accommodation and education facilities to the best of its capability, it costs a fortune to pay for necessities and care of students and because the kind of circumstances they have seen in their lives, they often fall behind other well-off students who don’t have to worry about two meals a day. In Indian education system, like others in the world, academic capabilities are measured in CGPA, grades and percentages whereas no thought is given to the background of a student. I’d consider 30 marks of a child, who was rescued from a factory, far better than 70 points of the kid who gets to play video games at home. It’s like comparing Apples to Oranges but the funny part is that this label of grades gets stuck with a student for life.
If a child from Balgram wants to study at premier institutions of this country such as IITs and IIMs, he will find the doors of these schools closed. And that’s the biggest irony of Indian education, it’s not the students that fail, it’s the schools, colleges, the whole system that fails them and somehow Indian government does not find it a problem. We Indians want our kids to study at Harvard, Cal Tech, yet there are many kids like those at Balgram for whom getting a decent education is all they could dream off. We expect these kids to speak fluent English but we refuse to educated them in a profession where he may stand at his own feat one day. We consider marks in an exam as a criterion of academic strength, but the thing is you can ace many of these exams if you can cram things good enough.
We must change the way we think about education, we have to include more empathy in our education system not international schools with astronomical fees.