It is a known fact that access to education for the people in the lower economic strata is a big problem. But at least it has got considerable visibility is partially addressed by NGOs and social entrepreneurs. But how about education for the middle class? Indian middle class gives great importance for education. This demand for the so-called quality education makes running a private school a lucrative business. Currently, private education is heavily supply-driven (schools), and the demand (parents) has very less say.
- Fees are high and increasing. And the donation, the need for which the school explain.
- Parents have very limited say on curriculum or the method of teaching they would prefer.
- one-dimensional education system (academics and rote-learning..bad/no sports program or arts program like learning music etc).
A few schools like DPS are exceptions at least in terms of quality of infrastructure. But it is still not a participatory model which includes parents. For example, I came to know from one of the parents (my aunt) that DPS doesn't even allow parents to enter the school premises during regular hours. Parents can't contact teachers at any time other than the scheduled parent-teacher meetings. In schools like DAV, an important selection criterion for kindergarten kids is the educational qualification of parents. What is the reasoning behind such rules? Why discriminate against a child for the ostensible fault of his/her parents?
I have never heard of a school that advertises "We provide a complete package of education, not only academics, but also community & environmental awareness and sports program." Nor can parents ask a school principal "Can you please tell me why your school is better than the rest?". But come to think of it, isn't that how it is supposed to be? After all, education is our constitutional right. Besides we are paying the schools, not the other way round.
Part of the problem lies with the parents. They liken teachers to medical doctors and assume that teachers know the best about the needs of their kids and they themselves are ignorant about it. However, the change in their mentality would be of little use if the absolute power of the schools doesn't change.
Currently, this absolute power is a problem precisely because because no one, especially parents, is considering it as a problem, let alone do anything about it! No one seems to be talking about it. I think that is where the change should begin.