Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Education can transform an individual


          

I  recently  got  the opportunity to visit a school called Christel House Lavasa , district Pune , Maharashtra , India.It is a small school with about 280 students and 19 teachers. The students  come from the poorest  sections of society and are the children of  mostly illiterate,  agricultural labourers working near Lavasa.Most of them  belong to a scheduled tribe called Dhangarh.
                 I interacted with a few students of class Three and Four (10, 11 years old).They were extremely self- confident ,bright , curious and keen to learn .They asked me how I traveled to their school , and when I told them that I came by aeroplane , they wanted to know if they could sit in one and travel  around the world .They questioned me in detail about what kind of work I  actually did , when I told them that I worked as  a civil servant , for the government .When I asked  many students in different classes what (he or )she liked the best about the school , she would pause for a while to think , and then replied very spontaneously :"Our Teachers".I was amazed at the consistent but spontaneous  replies
                       The mission of the school is to break the cycle of poverty and  help children become  self sufficient contributing members of the society.   The school  mainly  works  at their self confidence and tells them that poverty cycle can be broken with the help of hard work and education. The advantage lies in becoming better in ones life by working hard to realise ones potential. Poor or rich , improvement is  in  their  hands.The teachers   have spoken to them a lot and  encouraged  them to ask questions.The school  has  specific periods allocated for public speaking.
                            The arrangements , hygiene, the quality of meals served was very  good .I was also  impressed by the quality and proficiency in music .They have systems in place, regular quality checks and regular audits, based on which  they compare  their performance against the  standards, strategise and improve accordingly.The  quality ,  commitment and team work  of teachers as well as other staff was impressive. On the whole , the school demonstrates   very clearly that  good education  has the power to transform an individual , irrespective of the social or economic background  , or place of birth.
                                    The school caters  specifically to the disadvantaged children .When I asked teachers whether the brand "disadvantaged" will not stick in the inner consciousness of these children when they grow up , the response was ambivalent .Perhaps  a more inclusive system , where they also admit "not-disadvantaged students" also on payment of fees, will prove to develop better citizens and leaders out of these children .And I also thought about the children with special needs , children who have part or full  visual or hearing impairment or some orthopedic disability .Not withstanding our educators, policy makers and international institutions talking endlessly about inclusive education for the disabled , it still remains a distant dream in our country .More enterprising educators with  hearts in the right place , right attitudes and determination , are needed to bring about real inclusive education in India.