The main task for the education managers will be to correct and create conducive conditions in rural India on priority for universalizing education. Many times, it appears as a hopeless lost case with irresponsible teachers and the corrupt state bureaucracy responsible for educating rural India. Some suggest to hand over the school inspection to private agencies such as Pratham, and to transfer the administrative staffs and officers of the education department back to schools as teachers.
Private interference in rural education sector is still negligible, and will be welcome. One way may be by giving franchise of primary education by branded private urban schools to informal mini-schools of educated housewives of the villages after sufficient training.
However, for reducing the dropout percentage, the education process must become more and more attractive that can automatically pull the children from their homes instead of their parents pushing the unwilling lot.
Mid day meal was born out of the minds of urban thinkers with very little firsthand experiences of the issues of poor and rural India. It may bring in more kids to enroll. But how many of the enrolled ones attend the schools regularly and for the total working hours of the school? The fault may be either with the parents who hold the kids back to provide them the helping hand in some household work or the kid himself may not be interested in going to the school.
The main role naturally lies with the school teachers. Do the teachers constantly review and improve the methods of their teachings to make it attractive enough so that the students hanker for attending the school next day even with all the parental pressures, other attractions and excuses to remain at home?
Instead of following the set and to some extent boring way of teaching, do the teachers devote enough time and energy to find out the latent capability and interest of the individual kids? Naturally, the teachers can handle only a limited number, may be twenty children, efficiently and effectively. So availability of sufficient number of teachers is essential.
Mid day meal may be one attraction for the kids to attend the school and be there till it is served. But again the content of the meal and quality must be attractive enough which perhaps is hardly possible with the limit on its cost.
But besides mid day meal, many other attractions can be integrated in the routine at schools that normally the kids of the day like more.
The school may start with a secular prayer (Hum Honge Kamyaab–) meeting with certain light exercises and inspiring music as done in Japanese workplaces. Every school must have its own playing field. Sports and games both indoor and outdoor are attractions up to age. It prepares a kid to work in team as well as in improving personal skills. It must be made compulsory in every day routine and carry marks for aggregate score.
In olden days, all rural schools used to have flower beds, and the students used to participate in gardening. I wish that is made compulsory. Every child must learn a bit of farming, horticulture, and participate in improving the ambience of the school.
One class room may be used as creativity centre, where the children get their inherent creativity shaped, may be with very cheap local inputs. From class six onwards, every child must learn one of the other skills. Trainers may be pulled from the community. On the same way, the children must spend an hour in library room. A school can’t even be conceived without a library with well stocked books, gadgets and games- coloured, illustrated and suitable for the children. It makes reading a habit for future, when the self study only can improve one’s worth.
Extracurricular activities such as debate, drama and many things and involvement of all the children must be necessary to find out the interest and aptitude of individual child.
Thrust must on imparting the knowledge and understanding of the subject rather than on rote learning in routine manner. The students must get inquisitive and ask questions. Teachers must encourage them in that. They must also pose questions and ask the students to find solutions by self study. Means of teaching must be interesting. Teachers must remember why Panchtantra stories were written. Technologies have provided many options for making learning a fun. And the government is on the course of providing each rural school with the facilities such as broad band Internet, computers, and may be soon e-readers. Videos on the teaching materials can be shown on TV or digital white boards in class rooms. Endless easy-to-teach possibilities are available commercially in the market. Learning of mathematics and language can be fun today. But teachers will always remain the main actor for making the learning interesting. He has to take a lead.
Teachers in rural schools must not copy the types of projects and home works given in urban schools that taxes the parents and that is becoming an outsourcing industry. Home work can at the best be limited to rapid reading material or visiting some place nearby with parents.
Every teacher and the headmaster must innovate their own way to get to the end of real universalizing of the education for the community and the country. They must involve parents and seek the help from the community leaders, but can’t shirk their accountability.
A student coming out of ten years of schooling must be proficient in at least two languages if not three, pretty good in arithmetic, and using computer, beside getting at least one skill of his interest.