Saturday, December 03, 2005


With the indiscriminate of growth in schools and students who enroll for schooling at various levels, commercial interests drive the vision than any strong philosophical grounding. The 2001 Census revealed that 65.4 per cent people are literate. It also revealed a 11.8% increase in the literacy rate for the decade (Ramachandran, V., and Saijee, A. 2000) . According to the Indian Statistical Institute, about 36 million Children go to the 678,000 schools located in various parts of India. Yet there are about 60 million children out of school. Acccording to Ramachandran, V., and Saijee, A. (2000), a gradual decline in Class I enrolment has been recorded. This trend holds good for the enrolment in formal schools also. But, it was observed that the states, which witnessed slower growth in formal school enrolment, registered faster increase if the enrolment of formal and other modes were combined. This increase was predominantly contributed by the increasing number of private schools around the country. Even the world bank-funded programs such as the District Primary Education Program, which have actually improved the net literacy rate and the net enrolment rate, it fails to capture the social and gender gaps in education. An overwhelming message emanating from DPEP studies indicates towards acute shortage of teachers in government schools.
Thus, on one hand private educational institutions, most of them with strong commercial interests are in the increase. On the other hand more and more poor are left out in the process of learning and teaching. In this scenario, many of the key qualities that define or should define effective teaching-learning spaces will go amiss.
In this scenario the need for smaller, alternative schools becomes imperative. Also dogged role played by the alternative schools becomes invaluable and indispensably relevant. In their own small way, these schools and the cultures forwarded by these institutions are keeping alive the spontaneity, curiosity, and the innate exploratory abilities of a learner. My personal experience in one such school allowed me to view the innocent energies in full flow. There are problems faced by these schools also. But there is a space for conversation and dialogue that is always there for differences to be sorted out. As long as the space for conversation maintains status quo, there is hope in the future.


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