We decided to provide basic computer education our NGO (Aadarsh-vikalp) campus in our village Barhampur of district Madhubani, Bihar. Before setting up we thought it would be good idea to talk to students about their expectations, needs and ability to pay. In the evening we gathered some boys from near by village and started talking. These boys from class seventh to graduation were asked a simple question, Why do you want to study? “ To get a job” prompt came the reply. Job here does not only qualifies means of earning, it bundles
security, status and future. Speaking to parents we found that education is single point agenda that makes them successful parents in the society. All their earnings and savings are focused towards that. But is it so simple?
Education is the most experimented subject in the government list. Kinds of schools and schemes are endless. Packaged under different names and visual identities these schemes mean nothing to common man. Primary schools are more like day care centers and topped with mid day meals they have become crèche too. If you can touch your left ear with right hand taking it above your head, you are eligible to be enrolled. Government regulations do not allow exams to be conducted for primary schools.
There are no fees to be paid under free education scheme. Quantity is on priority than quality and this has resulted in very low standard outputs. Where are we going wrong? School infrastructure is not inviting enough for kids to look forward to. Just two rooms with no fans or furniture. No drinking water, no toilets, no hand washing facility. No facilities for girls. Teachers are trained to teach subjects. Teaching method is only reading out of textbook. Even the content of these books are highly questionable.
Printed on lower most tender, print and paper quality is pathetic. It is not even proof checked. School timings never cease to surprise us. In a country where so much of sunlight is available why schools timings are not rotated. Teachers need time to play, eat and sleep as well. All this needs to be factored in. Last but the most important is the curriculum. What are we teaching them? Up to class X we should only teach life utility topics. Basic science, math, history and political system should be taught. Rights and duties of a citizen should be included. How to access government services like health, food, and security is of much importance and need. If the child decides to go for further studies he can take calculus, integration or trigonometry. Why teach them that they will never use in life.
Education needs to be repackaged for its true value. It does not get you job but it improves quality of life. You can read a prescription, verify a crucial financial or land document before signing. The entire education model needs to be utility structured. The content needs to be friendly and entertaining. We also need to keep in mind that entertaining content is consumed faster and needs faster replacement.
Our experience on e- learning taught us that more involving the content is, children, become over-demanding. Unless our primary level education is not corrected, these children will never generate interest and drop out rate will be on the rise. There is a lot that is being done invocational space but it needs to be in sync with the industry demands. In order to standardize the content and its delivery, we need to have some regulatory. Today, there are thousands of English speaking courses available, which one is best suited for the age group remains a question. To reach out to many we need to be online. However, Internet has its own
However, Internet has its own limitations and so is the availability of power. The online version needs offline support as well. The diversity of the country also demands that these courses are in two languages. Language of work and language of comprehension must be in the consideration set.
These contents need a delivery mechanism that suits the social fabric. A young girl has domestic responsibilities as well; she cannot attend school during work hours. We need to provide her space when she has time and not when teachers or teaching facilities are available.
Traveling in the rural and small-town space shows how education is being run as a business. If only a little awareness can be generated, many organizations offer the same services for free or nominal charges. Children need to be assessed for what they are good at and based on their own skill set we need to design career for them.
At our village school we teach computer basically. During launch we took pains to translate or trans create content from English to Hindi but during our interaction with students they preferred to be taught in working language, therefore, words like “SAVE” “CUT” “BOOT” were put back into the course. Content design needs to be flexible and worked along with students till such time that it attains perfection from their level of understanding. At Aadarshvikalp it is customary to ask students what more courses they would like to take up. Photography, videography, news reporting has shown more liking over cutting, tailor-
Photography, videography, news reporting has shown more liking over cutting, tailoring or mobile repair course. Once a stream is identified we look for available material on you-tube or any other suitable resource center. After procurement, modify it to suit our requirement.
Community health, Paramedics, Agriculture assistants, Accounting, village management systems are some new spheres that we need to work on. Our focus needs to move from book to skill and also create a society that will respect people with these kinds of skill sets.
A lot needs to be done at the primary and middle school level. Only those with academic ambitions should be given senior secondary and graduation level education. Planning for such ambition should be done on the district level. Trying to find a pan India solution is the biggest mistakes planners make.
We need educated sensible and earning generations for future. We need to prepare them with care.
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