I am a big fan of yours and I like the way you communicate directly on social media. While am sure a small army at the PMO keeps you current, it’s still commendable that you choose to reach out and communicate regularly. I plan to write a series of letters to you on areas which I think need your attention and your government’s attention. There will be criticism and there will be suggestions – hope you will be open to both. You have said it several times in all your speeches, I am just taking you up on it.
In this letter I wish to focus on Education. I like Smriti Irani, but I don’t see her moving fast enough in the area of education. She seems to be beset with controversies of all kinds and doesn’t seem to let them go. Maybe inexperience or maybe something else, but here are some glaring issues that need quick attention.
1. Why do we have several boards – ICSE, CBSE, State Board ?? Why can’t we have a single uniform board that schools can follow ? It removes the challenges of mobility and less pressure on the children.
2. You have spoken at Sydney and earlier at Madison square, about exporting quality teachers to the world … Has Ms. Irani studied the current teachers’ abilities ? Why not raise a Teachers Corps just like the armed corps ? Teaching is the last option mostly for many people … Very few teachers are ones who love to teach. Also financially it’s not as well paying. We need to work on that.
3. In some of the prestigious schools teachers are paid less, in cash and asked to sign for more …. Can we cancel such schools’ licenses and the special grants given under the trusts ? What sort of moral fibre will we build in students when the teachers are being cheated ?
4. Can Ms. Irani mandate children to only use the school bus ? We have rich parents who car pool and still the pooled cars block the entire road as the large cars come to either drop or pick up their children… The only criterion for choosing a particular school should be proximity to their residence, and children can walk or cycle or take the bus, if they are a little further out. Good exercise and teaches them to be self-reliant.
5. And I have also heard that schools ask children about the car their father drives – I wonder what that’s got to do with either the child’s education or intellectual ability or values !! I also heard that the parents education is an important criteria for getting admission, guess Einstein and Gandhiji would not have been admitted to the modern school :). Who is watching over these practices ? Am thinking it should be Ms. Irani.
6. This recent thing about Kendriya Vidyalaya’s scrapping German and adding Sanskrit as the third language. The first thing is who added German as the third language ? It seems like an arbitrary decision, and if the third language had to be a foreign language why not French, Spanish, Mandarin or Portugese ? Funny, somebody chose German. But replacing it overnight with Sanskrit is also agitating students unnecessarily. Why not make the change from the next academic year ? Btw research says that children between the ages of 5 to 10 can easily learn upto 5 languages – maybe we should have three definite languages – English, Hindi and Sanskrit, but also have the state’s language as the fourth and a foreign language as the 5th. Language is the binding factor for communities, again research says that and languages are dying out. Let’s have multi-lingual children.
7. How do we intend to scrap the grade system and replace it with something that helps a child to develop his/her innate abilities and focus on those rather than memorize tomes of useless knowledge. Our educational system has degenerated into a rote system, not one where new ideas are explored. We are wasting the bright minds that manage to get to a school, why not have every class (1 to 12) be given a national problem to solve across the country ? Unleash the intellectual tsunami. Children are smarter than every one of us, because their minds are uncluttered. How do we use that sharp intellect and at the same time get them to enjoy learning, remain curious ??
8. Education has to be a social equaliser. I studied in Kendriya Vidyalayas and easily adapted to change and to different cultures, because my classmates all spoke different languages at home, ate different food, were from every part of this glorious country and we all ate from each other’s plate and learnt new cultural norms and had no difficulty when we encountered another new custom. The private schools and the “well-known” schools today strive for homogeneity in the students’ social background. Parents don’t want children from the less privileged sections of the society to sit with their children ostensibly because that child will yearn for all those things that “well to-do” children can afford – what about opportunities for that less privileged child to move up the social ladder by getting educated ?? Oh we will do charity for that – hahahahahahahaha ! The new snob caste 🙁
9. Please start inculcating social etiquette and civic sense in children from the time they start in class 1. That’s one idea we need to lift and shift from Japan and do it now. We will have “Swachh Bharat” in one year :):).
10. Implement “Shrameva Jayate” or your vision of dignity of labour in schools first – children are the best teachers and social change has to begin with them.
I am sure parents and teachers have several other points to add to this list and I hope many will respond to this post of mine and Ms. Irani will get enough ideas to implement.
Every one of us who voted for you voted for hope. And so far you and your government haven’t let us down, but there is so much to do !
Namaste. And may God give you the strength and energy to carry on the good work.