There are surely many things my bachelors and masters degree in sciences failed to teach me but one thing science never failed to teach me is “observance”. Here is a small observation I made that left me thinking about our education system and the future generations.

There is an elementary school right in front of my college from where I graduated almost two years back. During my college days, all I did except bunking classes was stalking that elementary school. There were just twenty kids. Yes, collectively twenty kids in eight grades. Strange! isn’t it? Almost fifteen of those twenty kids were of migratory Bihari workers. Right from my first year in college to my last year, the figures remained almost constant. There were two teachers for those twenty kids. I still can recognize their faces in any crowd. A widow in her 50’s and a gentleman in his early 30’s (okay that was a guess but age is just a number that hardly matters). Two teachers for twenty kids is not bad at all but I wonder what if the strength of kids contained one more zero? A lucky school I must say. But the scenario is not the same everywhere.

elementary education india

source (image for representation purpose only)

My parents are associated with the teaching profession and I have always heard them complaining that the strength of teachers in many government schools is not in an appropriate ratio. Coming back to the school under my observation, there was a peon and a mid-day meal worker who used to prepare lunch for the kids. I have always seen both the teachers engaged in some paperwork. There were no boundary walls or a proper entrance to that school and till date the schoolyard is open. The teachers were nice enough to never restrict any college student from visiting their campus. So we used to spend almost half an hour with the toddlers daily.

Driven by curiosity I once asked the teachers there about the work they both keep doing on papers. They told me that they have to maintain a record of everything right from the spices purchased for the mid-day meal scheme to the free uniforms they distribute among the kids. I wonder if the government would hire officials for these paper works so that teachers can focus more on their actual job that is teaching.

Next what I observed in the school is about the kids. Out of my curiosity, one day I decided to take an informal verbal test. I asked few kids to read some words for me. To my surprise, they weren’t able to read some of the easiest words. I even asked them to write few words and again they left me numb. Few additions and subtraction sums and I gave up. There I was, sitting right in front of future of the nation who doesn’t even know how to read and write. And also not sure, how much those teachers were bothered about their performance and learning skills.

Elementary education is something that should be taken seriously by all. Be it teachers, parents or kids. But what I observed was a house of cards that would collapse soon. And it was after that day I started to realize the futility of my education. But I find my adulthood even futile when I see those kids always smiling and dancing to the tunes of life and still hold that spark in their eyes that I lost way back even though I know how to read and write.

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