By Saurabh Verma:
Education is crucial because Padega India, tabhi toh badega India. According to the 2011 census, 74% of our population is literate. But learning to write and speak is not enough. Education is more than that.
I was a student in a relatively well-known school under the Uttar Pradesh education board. Unfortunately, rather than feeling proud of what I learnt, I feel as though my education was a blunder. And here are the two main reasons why I feel that way.
How does a school get affiliation to a particular board? Obviously, there are certain norms for the affiliation. The number of private schools is increasing day by day. But have the administration ever bothered to check the quality of education? Perhaps not. Well everyone blames government schools but this article will deal primarily with the private schools running under the aegis of UP board.
In 2002, Times of India broke a news that despite the strict rules of the UP Board to scan the credentials of the schools before granting them affiliation, there has been an increase in the number of high-school and intermediate colleges in Lucknow district, which have procured affiliation without fulfilling the minimum prerequisites.
I have completed my schooling from Unnao, a town sliced between two big cities – Lucknow and Kanpur. My school did not have basic infrastructure such as a science lab, playground, library, space for other curricular activities like dance, music etc. This was not only my school but most schools in Unnao, affiliated with the UP board are bereaved of all these facilities. There are one or two highly reputed schools which are affiliated with boards like Central Board of Secondary Education and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (I.C.S.E), but they charge such high fees that I and other middle-class students will not be able to afford such schools.
My question is how was my school given the affiliation when it did not have proper facilities for the students? It did not even have separate toilets for girls and boys. How did the administration allow my school to function? It is a big question on the creditability of the UP board. The report of Times of India was published in 2002 but even after a decade, no strict action has been taken. This is the reason why students from small towns are not able to cope up in big cities like Delhi where students from all over the country come to study. It was very difficult for me, too, to make my own place among students from around the country.
Did you know, that the marks for practical exams that are held before the board exams can also be bought? For subjects that include practical assessment, a total of 30 marks out of 100 are set aside. For that practical assessment, the UP board sent an officer to our school for evaluation of the students. When I was in the eleventh standard, I saw that the teachers told my seniors that they can pay a Rs. 400 per subject to pass the practical. The next year, I was also asked to pay the same amount for the same exam. Since, I was from the science stream I had five subjects – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English, and Hindi. Therefore, I had to pay 800 rupees for getting good practical marks in both Physics and Chemistry. All my teachers and even the principal were involved in this ‘scam’.
The day when the examiner came, the students knew very well that if they had paid for marks they didn’t need preparations. Since my school doesn’t have a lab, the examiner sat in one of the classrooms and did his ‘job’. I regret it because I should have raised my voice against such a system. However, since I am from a middle-class family, it was not possible for me to raise my voice because it can lead us into trouble. I got 30 and 30 for practical marks in both physics and chemistry. I have no idea how I could have scored 100% marks in my practical assessment if it wasn’t for the money I paid.
This is not the reality of only my school but several other schools in my town work in a similar manner. I am also sure that this situation does not only exist in my town, but that quite a few students around Uttar Pradesh are going through the same situation as I underwent. In this illegal and immoral way, students get marks but no knowledge. There are many who don’t like this but become a part of such a corrupt system. But we are all responsible for the present situation in our country. We can blame others but can’t be run away from our own responsibilities. The government, as well as the concerned board, should look into the matter, otherwise, the situation will be more severe than the present and the degrading quality of education can cause great harm to our nation and its aim of making India a well-educated state.