Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Daytime Prisons

A young 7-year old student was brutally murdered in a school in Gurugram. So far, reports suggest it was the school-bus conductor or driver who tried to sexually molest him that did it. This is hard to believe but time will tell and it’s best to let the police bring out the facts. In another incident in Noida, a boy slaps another for camera. The principal calls it “Peer slap bet”. Fancy term indeed. In another incident in Lucknow, a Class-3 student was slapped 40 times by the teacher for not responding to the roll-call. Elsewhere, a kid was detained in school for long for non-payment of fees. Another young girl was also detained in another school for dress code. I’m sure it makes us all wonder what our schools and teachers have come to. Of course, these are hopefully stray incidents and one hopes these aren’t that common across the country.

Childhood and early teens are the most joyful years in life. Our schools are the ones that make it absolutely miserable for children. Most children hate schools. Cannot blame schools by themselves but also our governments that have made them daytime prisons for kids. Despite a lot of efforts by courts, some govts and other activists, our schools have remained a painful experience for students, teachers, management and parents. Almost every school is a centre of chaos. I am not even going to discuss the discriminatory RTE legislation in this post.

PM Modi talks of a “New India”. Much appreciate, but you certainly cannot build a new India with the dilapidated structure of our school education. Our schools don’t teach for learning outcomes and thinking. They teach to TEST. Period! Every classroom act is designed to pour information into children’s heads to ready them for the next test. I cannot believe there are schools that run “unit tests” for Class-1 children from the second week of the academic year. I know parents who are constantly preparing their kids for the next test. With such backwardness and lack of innovation of any kind, our schools are way behind civilisation and modernisation and not equipped for any New India:

What to teach is an important question. What to test is also an important question. Not everything that is taught needs to be tested. And even the method of testing can be simplified without inflicting pain for some lower level subjects. The three key subjects to be taught and tested are English (Or the medium of instruction), Math and Science. All other subjects are secondary and need not be tested so stringently. What purpose in hell does it serve in memorising nonsense about history, geography or civics? A general reading of these subjects in class followed by Q&A would be enough.

That apart, I sympathise with teachers too. Not much investment is made in them. I have seen the poorest of poor people appearing for B.Ed exams in worn out clothes and slippers just because they cannot find any other work. Teachers are supposed to create geniuses for the country but the investment in them is almost zero and a peon in a private company or an Uber driver earns more than most teachers. Therefore, they too teach to complete a task. They don’t teach to seek learning outcomes.

Trends in International Maths & Science Study (TIMSS) is an international study across countries that is being conducted for many years across the world. These are mostly for Class-4 onward in schools. India has not participated in these studies except a stray exception. Consistently, in these studies, Singapore, Korea and Japan perform dramatically well. Yet, our Delhi minister goes to Finland to discover magic in education. All one has to do is compare text books of Singapore and NCERT to see the dramatic difference and why their students find it more interesting to understand and learn.

Let us also keep in mind that there is not a single course in India that certifies and qualifies someone to be a Principal. There are professional certifications for doctors, lawyers, CAs, architects but none for Principals. ZERO! What stops the GOI from starting prominent institutes across the country to train and certify principals? Our pathetic HRD ministry is concerned only with IITs and IIMs when the roots of our “New India” are formed in schools, not in higher institutes. Therefore, a separate ministry and minister focused on school education is a must. Although education is a state subject, there must be every effort to standardise curriculum and methods of instruction.

Because education is a state matter, our states exploit kids in areas like history. In Bengal the Mughals are gods. In Maharashtra Shivaji becomes most important. In UP again Mughals. In Rajasthan it’s Rana Pratap. And there are moronic SS books that teach RahulG, Barkha or Teesta as heroes? What history is being taught and why even test this subject with so much pain inflicted on children and parents to cram facts and vomit in answer sheets? What is the purpose in this day and age of facts being available at fingertips on mobiles and internet? If we want a “New India” a dramatic change is needed in school education. This means – what we teach, what we test and how we test. When schools are not enjoyable for any stake-holder, students in particular, some of them, turn to deranged behaviour. We get juvenile jerks who form gangs in schools, bully, and get violent. We also get perverted teachers and principals and lower end staff that results in painful incidents like these:

Unless we unburden our students, teachers and principals there is no way we will produce great innovators or thinkers. Our schools are mass-manufacturing units of mediocrity. You cannot build a “New India” with a moth-eaten structure. And the problem is too huge to explain in one single post. Therefore, this series on school education, something I am passionate about, will continue in multiple parts.

To be continued


  1. Very good post. Every word of it is true. The problem started when we linked education or learning with money. Teacher wants money to teach and student studies for job which gets hefty salary package. No one is interested in gaining knowledge which is useful for `well being'. About the education policy of the Govt., it seems there is none. HRD ministry is in great slumber. Same old, useless textbooks are prescribed. up to primary school level education should be free of cost for everyone. Then only money centered system can be replaced with knowledge centered system.

  2. Almost the entire primary education is in the hands of Christian missionaries.Their main task is to Christianise young Hindu minds and their major tool for this is English language and that is taught by semi-educated padres.Only in areas like maths Hindu teachers are employed because these padres cannot understand that subject.So,the whole torture for the child starts with English which is far removed from our vernacular languages and in most cases the parents cannot are not well versed in English.So,for the child it is a terrorised atmosphere.

  3. Hope this had hitting, FACTUAL essay is read by powers to lead into a better education system. Right now as MC puts it is creating havoc with young minds.

  4. Thanks Ravinar for a sane opening comment "hopefully stray incidents".
    MSM has become unbearable with 'let us punish somebody'.

    Apart from that this blog appears to say 'hey see I too said something about it'.
    Neither MSM nor SM are ready to debate the real issue.
    The kind of people among us. Even more important question why they are so.
    Even before nirbhaya case many crime reported from Delhi. It was definitely not organized crime. If you look at offenders there is definitely a pattern.
    Fearing vote loss the spineless politicians will never accept it.
    But why media is shying from it?

    There may be truth in branding Indian schools and education system wrongly.
    What happened now is a CRIME and we are talking about teachers and quality. And of course promoting English and demeaning History.

  5. Reminds me of the wise quip - I was born intelligent but education ruined me. In fact, for many this is true. Our schools don't encourage out of the box thinking and innovation. Students who question teachers are punished by such teachers, instead of appreciating their inquisitiveness. We ought to move away from rote-learning to right-learning, which should be knowledge-based, not just to mug n vomit in exams.

  6. In any business deal, atleast you know what to expect from the deal. While there are so many types & varieties of schools with varied infrastructure, the school & parents are both responsible for the sorry state of affairs for the school is NOT mentioning what are the deliverables + what the student can get or gain during the education session in the school. It is totally undefined. This part need to be mandatorily mentioned by the school & it will be legally binding.
    Parents are sending the children with aspirations & aspirations are not quantified nor it can be a deliverable. So cannot argue on it.
    When the school says our institute will charge you Rs 1 million for the education, see what all are the deliverables
    similar to the normal purchasing everyone does when going to a shop & making a buy decision.
    All these Years India had NOT a single minister (including current BJP ministers) who can understand what education is how to set pace for the future. Outdated texts, outdated syllabus, no flexibilty, 100% rigidity in exams or schedules or syllabus, inexperienced teachers, totall collapse.
    India does not have one common prospectus for each University floats its own with different terminology or criteria or norms. One Telangana University penalizes students for not joining the institute i.e. Rs. 5 lac fine for medicos, but none for Engineering or B.Com. This University is closed hands with private universities.

  7. Infact the penalty clauses are also found in Maharastra universities.

  8. So, is someone standing up and bring about the change..??
    In India, nothing important to the citizens has been done by GOI if it doesn't give vote banks in return --- Education for them is not connected to Agriculture, Religions, Regions hence nothing will be done except probably to remove some chapters which conflict the party ideologies -- it's always an individual or a group of like minded folks standing up and creating something on own without GOI support.
    So is there a school which is trying to bring about the change..? Is there someone trying to be the change..?

  9. and what is a 4 year old doing in school? I think a change is needed in young women too who think being successful is making money, and also in men, who look to an educated woman as an ATM machine.
    I am not able to articulate it properly, but harsh it may sound, an educated woman at home will make for a better family than one who is working. this is coming from self experience. and a woman it has to be. i would not leave my kids to my husband for the sole fact that, i can do 100 times better job with them than him. true in many households

    1. simple. every family wants double income. they can throw more money for everything. and demand someone else discharge their responsibility for that extra money

    2. That's a regressive way to look at the issue... problem is with the mindset, not with the working mother...

      And it is better to have her working than stay at home, force the kids to mug and score more marks, and compare them endlessly to neighbourhood kids... I have seen enough glorious "homemakers" in my life...

  10. Thanks a lot Ravinar for this post. I am looking forward to all the posts in this series.

    Education system has been rotten in India for at least last 100 years. It might have been pretty rotten earlier as well. I believe nothing has particularly deteriorated recently. Change will not be easy.

  11. Thank you for writing on this subject. Please also include the case of Arman Sehgal, a Class IV student of GD Goenka, Indirapuram who died mysteriously in school a month back.

  12. Indian system so rotten that it is putting age limits for education. My mother did B.A. in English Literature at the age of 60 years for she was married off in 1940's, yet her urge to learn (NOT for degree) continued, lack of schools or colleges for seniors, she used to read all our text books & gain from it. There should not be any bars to learning. People who never studied beyond 5th class, when they want to learn more, they are asked to produce 10th Class certificate, at the age of 50 years !!! Can it not be ignored considering the age ?. Willingness to learn should be the only criteria. Next is capacity to perform. Not all who did Computer Science or MCA or IIIT can do programming many of them are also unfit for software programming. I do understand that India is populous country & giving degrees to all will lead to unemployment. But not all people who learn are going to apply for employment. Many communities in South earn degrees to get better bargain of dowry than to real learning for these people never work other than managing their agricultural lands & do some trading business as time pass.
    BJP still did not understand how India lives or earns or learns.

  13. The suggestion that a dedicated Minister for School Education is required to fix a dilapidated Primary Education system is brilliant; but will go unheeded. I say this with a degree of certainty because the article reminds me of a similar suggestion made by several ecologists( research scientists, not activists) that a separate Ministry for Wildlife and Forest Conservation had become imperative. This was way back in 1990,when Ms. Maneka Gandhi,as Minister for Environment,had converted the Ministry into an animal welfare forum.Forest and Wildlife conservation were hit badly. The earnest plea by ecologists was brushed aside. Would the suggestion for a School Ministry be treated any differently??

  14. Patch work. When will we start comprehensive overhaul from text books to innovation to honoring true heros and role models to language to field of science?

  15. Dear Ravinar,

    Your whole discussion is right on target. I have adapted my response to some of the issues I wish to highlight. This is to prevent the rationality of my comment from being swept away in the passions flowing from the current sight of the plight of our school children.

    1. Schools are where people start as kids-- undifferentiated social units-- malleable but also gullible. Parents too, particularly those with their own unrealized but still cherished dreams, are equivalently malleable and gullible. Their only feedback on what happens in a school is only what their kids report and how the kids reportedly perform. Typically, parents reflect their own education or public knowledge in filling up the blanks in their kids' progress stories with their own future expectations and past experiences. Everyone, whether good or bad, other than the vulnerable kids and their parents, cashes in and feeds on this fetal-fresh socioeconomic milieu with no binds, bounds or beacons to bother: nobody's 'sure' what sort of size, site, staff, syllabus or school is right (or wrong, either) for a (kid) student.

    2. Money is both time and power capable of BUYING anything, we all say. Most parents pull out more and more valuable time from their lives to push up further and further their finances, ultimately only to pump into their kid's future greater and greater resources. So, schools become money banks, also cache men and material, and break into a mad race for conquering time, cumulating multiple operations and cornering power. Parents, already bankrupt of any feedback and now also of spare time and resources, have no option but to believe in and be ready for the best.

    3. Money also breeds corruption and crime, we all agree. Stakes soon increase (in) handshakes, headnods, hugs and such other humbugs, all hotbeds for hotheads and hoodlums. Kids run the real risk of being railroaded into a rapid or rabid rush or run toward a ruinous destiny. This uncertainty and insanity simply extends into-- and exists also in-- colleges, taking eerier forms. One never knows whoever and whatever is alongside a kid, off-home. All in all, it is impossible to pinpoint when and where we start losing first the sight, and later the whole, of a kid once the parents see her/him off home.

    4. Money cannot WIN men (= good friends) and morals, we are given to understand. To this I would like to add, money cannot MEND men (= Goons) and their meandering manners. In short, it has always been very unclear whether a small and stunted school way back in, say the '70-'90s, or an imposing and international school now, in the 2010-2020s, is surer, safer, and sounder for a kid's progress.

    5. Somebody has said sometime somewhere that schooling &/or training indeed denies man his original intellect, diverts him off a gorgeous evolution, and deprives him of a glorious destiny. How real!

  16. It is not clear as to why the examination should be different for students coming from different streams, i.e. different for regular / private / correspondence / distance education stream for the same class of under-graduation / graduation / post-graduation? If common exam is held for students of all streams, results can spring up some surprises – some students from distance education stream (who might score more than the students coming from regular stream) who might have been held in low esteem just for the reason that they are not from regular stream. If results can spring up equal or majority of the rank holders of top 20 ranks occupied by students coming from distance education, it might expose the self-assumed superiority & the noise made out to be as to how the regular students (as also the so called prestigious institutes like Ryan / IIT or even Harvard) are superior to those coming from distance education.

    And if students are not forced to reply as per pseudo-liberal-commies lines of thought, some brilliant answers might spring up some original solutions to the same problems, and these brilliant answers deserve addition of some extra marks and extra scholarships purely on the basis of merit. This is how you produce original concepts like Google, Space X, Tesla and Hyperloop, otherwise we shall ever remain a nation of job-workers, job-seekers, cyber-coolies & clerks

  17. The problem is our BJP leaders dont think, they should have brain storming groups with people from various walks of life to rebuild India

  18. With Respect to RTE,
    My Dad, started school along with few friends in Late 70's in Ahmedabad in rural locality-Hatkeshwar/Kokhra area. He says very core idea of RTE was Congress brain child but Congress could not force State to follow it up may be BJP was in Power in Gujarat. Now when BJP is in center since last 2 years student inflows to school through RTE has gone high DEO office directly sends student with letter for their admission and schools have no option other then admit and state pays their education tuition fee.
    Same BJP cried from rooftop against RTE now when in Power are using for their purpose of vote bank...
    His point was on BJP's double standard.

  19. Dear Sir

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you on all the points, there are very few countries which have a decent education system. Korea, Singapore (and I guess entire Asia) is based on rote system. Singapore classifies it children in public schools based on skills quite early and Korea is one of the most stressful countries to be a child. In contrast many western countries have a holistic education system but then their PISA rankings are horrible. Thus you see in USA the lamenting over weak STEM skills of locals. I actually think Nordic countries especially Finland is an idea example to emulate if ever that were possible. But as you rightly pointed as long as teaching is not a viable career, you wont have quality people joining and thus there is no hope. The education minister has probably many wrong priorities but Finland is not one of them and I will be the happiest if his visits end up making even a smaller population's childhood more enjoyable

  20. The word "dynasty" system in India is for the Pride of Upholding a value or Principle inspite of various life's up & down i.e. like Raja Hirischandra who was steadfast to his word in spite of being driven to hardships under maya of Sage Viswamitra.
    Now coming what is that Principle or feature in this fake Gandhi family he is stressing ?? i.e. is he referring to the continued list of scam that they have run-down the throat of Indian citizens without any accountability ??

  21. Congress + Commies have just destroyed the entire system.

    Not many takers for B.Ed. Unnecessary testing in name of CTET creating more problems and non CTET even M.Ed teachers being exploited. Even CTET ones in private schools not much lucky. Javadekar is as stupid as they come. No spine, no will, no vision

  22. I love this blog and agree with most part of it. But I don't agree with this part - "The three key subjects to be taught and tested are English (Or the medium of instruction), Math and Science. All other subjects are secondary and need not be tested so stringently. What purpose in hell does it serve in memorising nonsense about history, geography or civics? A general reading of these subjects in class followed by Q&A would be enough."

    All subjects are important - some make us intelligent and some make us intellectually rich. I get the point that you are only trying to lighten the burden of education but must I tell you that all subjects are important, they shape our personality. The reason we question the system is because we have read humanities. Thankfully, European countries have high respect for humanities and culture, that is why they are known to be so cultured.

  23. Ravinar is silent & he cannot be silent forever, for he need to inform & reveal what everyone in this country are missing i.e. where is the Buffalo Beauty (Burka Dutt), for haven't heard any thing & demonetization failed due to buck stops at Buffalo Beauty i.e. Black money stops at Buffalo Beauty & she took all the money & disappeared. It is expected duty of Ravinar to reveal where she fled to.

  24. Today's youth lost their potential time to learn through observation and lot of questioning. Parents have no time to answer their queries. They all the time wrongfully believed that education comes from schools and teachers. Teachers are no more Guru Brahmas. They just remained as clerks in office. Time to come and time to go to home. Once upon a time teachers staying in the same village used to be role models for the children.
    The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are not in the safe in future in the hands of such indisciplined youth. Every student is no better than a politian. Such is the influence of politics on youth. GOD save these states.

  25. Poorly researched and written article, you cited Singapore, Korea and Japan, do have any idea of what kind of stringent education system exists in these countries. eg: In Singapore, 12 year old kids take the high-stake, high-pressure exam called the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) and the result of this exam decides their future.
    Education system in India requires major corrections especially at state level but is not as bad as you make it sound, your kids have multiple options in the Indian education system and unlike Singapore, Korea and Japan, the school grades definitely do not decide your future.

  26. हालत देखो कैसी खस्ता, बच्चे से भारी है बस्ता.......


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