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Are Schools Really Providing Quality Education To Children?

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It is almost the start of a fresh academic year and this is the season for school admission. Generally, school admissions do not get prominence like college admissions. As schooling is the stepping stone for formal education, it is important to understand the quality of education a child receives in school.

I live in a suburban part of Benguluru called Amruthahalli. My mother is a tutor for a few dozen primary school kids in the neighborhood. It is important to note that most of these kids are first generation school-goers.

As one may expect, some of these kids are not the brightest students, mainly due to the lack of guidance from their less than literate parents. But it is heartening to see that these parents toil hard to get the best possible schooling for their children. Some of them take up extra work just to pay for their child’s school fee. They want their kids to have what they could not, receive the best possible education. Despite their difficult economic condition, they are willing to shell out exorbitant amount as school fee for their child’s bright future. However, as a tutor, my mother noticed that most of these schools are defeating the very purpose of the child’s parents.

While tutoring, my mother noticed that some of these children were unable to meet the expected standards of learning for their age. This was hardly surprising, as this is the case with most Indian children. However, when their final exam results were announced she was shocked to see that these children had received an A+ grade. As my mother has been teaching these kids for a long time, she is aware of the child’s academic capabilities. The grade on the final report card was not a reflection of the child’s capabilities. My mother wanted to understand this discrepancy in the child’s performance. Upon inquiring with the kids, she discovered something shocking.

The children informed my mother that during exams, the so-called “dull students” were allowed to copy from the answer sheet of the so-called “bright students”. In some instance, the answers were written on the board by the teachers for the students to copy. One would imagine this to be happening in the government schools. Unfortunately, all these schools are private schools, which charge an exorbitant fee to “educate” children by promising a higher quality education. The very fact that schools are indulging in such malpractice indicates that they are not focused on providing quality education.

It is common knowledge that the education system is not of the highest standard in India. But some of these schools do not do justice even to the sub-standard education system. The parents are completely unaware of the quality of education their child is receiving, mainly due to their lack of formal education. They are content in taking pride for the A+ grade of their children. But imagine what happens to the children once they step out of school. They are not equipped to handle pressure because they were not allowed to work hard for their grades. Instead, they were gifted to them. Worse, they were taught it is okay cheat just to get good grades. There was one instance where a kid I tutored refused to study for his Hindi exam. When I chided him for being lazy, he just replied, “Don’t worry, tomorrow they will let me copy and I will get an A grade.” It was disheartening to hear this reply. The child knew that he did not have to work hard as he will be rewarded anyway. It was obvious that the child was not to be blamed. To some extent, even the parents cannot be blamed as they have no schooling experience. The blame lies entirely on school management.

Grades are in no way an indicator of a child’s capabilities. But the life lessons being taught in these schools will scar the child’s future. They are taught that dishonesty is acceptable, and that hard work was not necessary. Children have an impressionable mind and what they learn in their school will shape their future.

Why do schools resort to such tactics? It is mainly to do with the business of education. Schools lure uninformed parents by advertising the grade of these students to admit fresh students. The parents are coaxed into paying the exorbitant fee without realizing that their child might be deprived of basic education, which could handicap the child to face the tougher challenges ahead. Just to sustain their business model, these schools are denying the child their fundamental right to education.

I cannot provide concrete evidence of these malpractices because the children refuse to speak out for fear of being punished. The parents refuse to confront the school management for the fear of alienating their child. When the few parents who do confront the school management, the school denies any such malpractice. Hence, I am unable to name the schools that indulge in such activities. I hope this is limited to the four schools of my locality and not a general trend among schools elsewhere.

To all parents who are seeking admission of their child for this academic year, please educate yourself on your child’s academic performance. Do not rely just on grades. Encourage your children to have a frank conversation with you on their performance in school. Most importantly, do not fall prey to the advertisement boards of the school. After all, the child’s, and therefore the country’s future is at stake.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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