I wished to help educating my village folks, the children particularly girls in pursuing higher education. During my last visit I talked with the headmaster of the only Girls High School near the village, Pipra that caters to the girls of the village. It’s a private school. Teachers were not getting any remuneration for years. Nitish Kumar has arranged some lump sum aids based on its performance in board examination.
It was difficult to communicate to the girls because of Holi. Those in class X had already completed the school. Now they if at all come, they would have come for transfer certificates to him. But then the headmaster used his informal channels.He called them.
One morning I met with a group of girls who are expected to score good first class marks in the school final examination in which they have already appeared. They appeared to be confident and wished to go for higher education. The village school doesn’t have facilities for the higher classes- XI and XII. If they wish to pursue higher education, they will have to go to the town, Sasaram. Either they commute to Sasaram every day or they lodge there.
Getting admission for these girls in some college wouldn’t be difficult. But I was surprised when I was told that they will have to resort to compulsory private coaching, mostly by the same professors who are actually on the roll of the college. But they neither teach nor complete the stipulated academic course that they are expected to and paid for by the college. A student can’t appear in the examination with just self study from the text books. So the students besides getting enrolled to a college and paying its fees regularly must attend a private coaching to get his or her course completed at pretty heavy cost. For most of the farmers or the under-priviledged of the villagers, it is impossible to bear the cost that is about Rupees four-five thousand a month or more for a student for both lodging and coaching.
I talked to the girls and some guardians who had come. It appeared as if they had come for an interview and once successful I would offer them whatever the financial assistance they would ask for from some charitable institutions. It smelt fishy. Might be that the organizers of the meeting might have be having some vested interest.
I suggested some way out. For some of the selected ones, certain amount of financial assistance could be provided after thorough screening. But at the end it appeared that they wanted the money as they are getting today for the cycle that the whole family uses or the lump sum that is used for family expenditure. I don’t have that sufficient a fund to satisfy their expectations. I have not succeeded as none from the family participated. I was at fault for not involving them. I shall try again. Unfortunately Nand Kishore Chacha is not that active now.
But the government education system must clear the mess. The intermediate colleges or higher secondary schools and its teachers must start teaching in the schools for the money they get. The students can’t go for an education system that is totally dependent on coaching system from class VII to graduate level and even thereafter too for employability. What is this education if the pre-entrance coaching and for entrance coaching have become must. Does it mean that even for higher education of engineering or other subject the students will have to go for coaching beside the normal class lectures or lab work?
For me, it is shocking as neither myself nor my children went for any such coaching in school final and higher secondary stage. We didn’t even attend any coaching to get admitted in the engineering colleges. For inclusive education, the system must cut the coaching out.
PS on April 6: Hundreds and thousands of these girls or, for that matter, boys too of rural India will never be able to get the education they wanted. Is it not criminal? Can’t something be done? It is only the urban issues or rather issues in metro are getting attention, whereas the numbers in the rest are many more times higher. It’s a shocking failure of the governance that talks of equity. But more surprisingly even those who have come from the rural India such as Nitish Kumar don’t focus on the real problem of education in rural India where the majority lives. Can’t every Panchayat have a higher secondary school? Can’t every block have professional colleges? Can’t the boys and girls of rural India go straight to IITs and NITs or coveted law schools? I really feel bad, as I can’t help it out.