'Common School, the Way Forward'

Today, government schools find themselves abandoned by the rich and poor alike.

Published: 20th January 2014 07:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2014 07:45 AM   |  A+A-


Today, government schools find themselves abandoned by the rich and poor alike. Focusing on this issue, a few activists came together for the panel discussion on Making RTE Effective: Strategies, Constraints, Outcomes, in the city recently. At the discussion it was pointed out that the concept of neighbourhood schools could be the way forward to establish a common school for all.

“Now, the system is such that it is only the poorest of the poor who choose government schools. And it is a fact that when something is only for the poor, its implementation will also be poor and neglected,” said V Vasanthi Devi, veteran educationist and former vice-chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. She also pointed out that those opting to send their children to government schools came from economically poor background and that the number of people from socially backward castes and classes were disproportionately high among them.

The activists said that most of the developed countries have common school systems with neighbourhood schools. Children from all economical and social backgrounds studied together in a school close to them.

“But even though the Kothari Commission had called for a common school system with the concept of neighbourhood schools in the 1960, it is still neglected. The RTE Act legitimises multi-track system of school education,” she said.

Many of the panelists and members pointed out the reasons for growing disconnect between the societies. “The teachers don’t send their own children to the schools where they teach.The government school teachers are now the richest in the village, they are the big money lenders, while the students come from the poorest backgrounds,” said Justice Chandru.

Veteran educationist S S Rajagopalan recalled the decentralised school system in the 1960s, where students from the rich, middle class and poor sections went to the same schools. “The landlord’s son and the tenants’ son would be in the same school. Ninety-eight per cent of the students, irrespective of their backgrounds, went to the same schools,” he said.

He also said that the system worked well because the panchayat ran the school and the government monitored it. But this changed after the government took over the schools, making it a system where the administrator and the inspector became the same institution. This has led to a loss of accountability.


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