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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Multiplying Incompetency...The Bottom Up view of Education

We are not anti reservation, anti free education or anything.. we just think there's a big farce going on out here in the name of education which is harming the prospect of getting educated leaders, thinkers from among the adivasis, dalits and other poorer sections of society via the education route. Of course social, economic and political situations throw up leaders and nobody is waiting for good schools...still we have this crib for whatever little education is worth. 

This story is about the tragedy of rural children who somehow manage to pass. More than 90% don't complete school. They enter the 'World Work Bank'. Very few are able to break this and get into good colleges or jobs.  

Chhaatra, the hero of this story studies in a village school. But Chaatra is able to go there only on special occasions like the New Dress Distribution Day or Cycle Distribution Day or to take the Chhaatravitti (a scholarship amount which has nothing to do with his being a scholar or not). The rest of the days he has to look after farm jobs, tend the goats/buffaloes, or some odd job at home. Not that the teacher comes every day. Still.

But don't worry

Thank the new law of education Chhaatra cannot be failed and he knows it. He can only be asked to study more in the summer vacations and give the exam again. But as this is an extra burden on the teacher, the chances that he or anyone will fail are bleak.   

Conversation with a 9th fail Chaatra-

    - Bete, how come you can't even recognise numbers till 20           having studied till 8th class.
    - Silence with head down.
    After more than a fortnight of knowing each other ....
    - Sir I never went to school till class 5. The teacher came         home and gave me the certificate. Then father told me to go       to school. But I couldn't read or write so didn't                 understand anything till 8th class. Went to school very           little.

In spite of all hahoo and Right To (Useless) Education.. the condition of such schools is pathetic to say the least. Any 9th class teacher will vouch for the utter incompetence maybe illiteracy too.

So the problem is that Chhaatra is 8th pass but almost illiterate.  

But dont worry. Chaatra got admitted to the 9th class in a nearby Middle School. The teacher cannot refuse admission. Then somehow he passed the Xth and took Macks(maths) like other students. Some friends took Bayo(biology). Vow! he has cleared the XIIth board exams. Thank the stars of education - guidebooks, 20 Questions and coaching classes. There are other options for the bold - cheating, finding the examiners and getting your marks upped etc.

Now our hero, Chhaatra is XIIth pass and that too with Science, Macks and English. He has bought a new set of latest style jeans and check shirts (only the latest is available on all local stores or thelas of the smallest town. Thank the martyr labor of China, Bangladesh and our very own too). He looks intelligent and smart but.. sorry to say, the problem is that he doesn't know anything. Any damn thing.. i.e. related to books, happening around, current events.

What will he do now ? Suspense !!

But not to worry. 
There is a local engineering college/ pvt. college/Ayurvedic medicine college/ B.Ed. college/ MSW college in your tehsil town. You have never seen it or heard about it. The names of these colleges usually start with World..., Global.., International...etc.
They came to Chhatra's school on their own, took a test and declared him passed and you won't believe it but our dear Chhaatra got into an engineering college. His other friends got into Pvt. Ayurvedic Medical College/ Bio-Tech course/B.Sc./Eng. Literature course/MSW. It can be anything..just anything, depends on the colleges in the town.

You are thinking......But private colleges have high fee. How can tribal and other poor people's children pay the fees? You think I am gassing ?

Dont worry.
They just have to pay a nominal fees. The rest the Govt. pays to the college based on the number of students enrolled. This is about Rs. 30,000/- or more per student. Just do a little math and you will understand the enthusiasm of the Private collegewallahs going around schools helping tribal students to get admissions. 

Met on the road the smart young, enthusiastic, boy. (conversation in Hindi)
   - Namaste sir
   - Namaste beta, so how are you / what are you doing?
   - Engineering sir.
   - Engineering ?(almost choked. i remember till 8th he was          generally struggling to read) Very good. Wah. Which branch ?
   - Blank look.
   - Which engineering course are you doing ?
   - Engineering sir.
   - ok. ok. But most engineering books are in English or very        difficult Hindi. Do you understand anything?
   - That is the problem sir. Some teachers teach in English. We      don't understand anything.

Most Govt. college students know that there are hardly any classes. They go to give CC and the semester exams. Many Govt. college teachers teach in the private colleges.

Some students look for side jobs while studying. One went to a small pvt. school for teachership. The interview was like -

   Q. What is the capital of India - Bhopal or Delhi ? ( Q asked       in MP)   ..
   A. Confused look.
      confusing hmm.
   Q. What is your name ?( asked in English)
   A. What is your name Subhash.
I'm not joking i have gone through this many times. The likes of Chhaatra don't know how to multiply or divide large numbers or even add or substract 10000 - 1. Forget decimals, fractions and company.

So now the problem is that Chhaatra and is friends are  graduate/ engineer/ ayurvedic doctor/MSW/ BEd. Most of them know almost nothing about the subject of their study. Who the hell is going to give them a job ? 

Frustration in the offing..Rebellion of Youth... Climax.. Now Chhaatra is stuck. His education is lousy and he has also lost the ability and interest to do farming or other manual labor work. What will he do ?   

No, no, not yet.. Don't worry.
The Govt. will give him some job..Contract teacher/para medical worker..(experience says good chance of becoming permanent)/panchayat secretary/ NREGA. Or some ngo on some mission will take him. Then there are the numerous Pvt. companies selling rabbits or emu eggs. If nothing else.. security gaurd. If nothing works in the village he is determined to go to the city or the Industrial Area. He has lot of contacts there. (His seniors in school and college).   

So now Chhatra has a job and it doesn't matter what he knows or doesn't know. He will learn the two three things he will be required to do on the job.

Mission Job Accomplished. Student happy. Family happy.
Govt. happy. Human Development Index happy.
Company happy.

So why bother about quality education in Govt. schools as long as you can complete the incompetency cycle with some job. Doesn't matter if it was previously done by a 5th pass now a graduate can do it.

And so no one has a problem. 

We have a problem because we want to see these tribal/dalit and other children from poorer families go up to take leading roles in society. 
At Adharshila we are trying, trying hard against many odds to change this story.