Government schools now and 50 years ago

At present about half of total students study in government & its added schools. Thanks to Covid -19 that many parents have shifted their children to government schools in last 4 months to save on the high fee of private schools. Compared it in 1960s and1970s, there were almost 100 percent except a few in residential convent schools, used to study in government and added schools. Their share has been continuously reduced to about 50 percent in 2020. To explain the reasons for this change in school system, let me narrate my own experience of a remote rural school After passing 8 th class in 1964 in first division from a government middle school of my village Kakroli Sardara in Mahendragarh (Now Bhiwani /Charkhi Dadri) district, I joined government high school Dalawas at distance of 6 km. This entire district was a backward area and a hardship allowance was given to government employees till mid seventies. My High school Dalawas was in fields with no market/shops nearby. Water for drinking was available from a dug well and drawn manually from a depth of 90 feet by a rope and bucket. There was a small hostel in school for about 30 distant village students and teachers. Despite jungle location, the reputation of this school was very good in those days. It was attributed to its good teachers namely the headmaster Pt. Bhola Ram Sharma from Bhiwani city, Hindi teacher Nanak Chand with big moustaches, Narender Dev Shastri, et al. They were not only teaching their subjects well but acting like guardians of school and students in all aspects. Most of the teachers were from outside the district but the writ above three teachers run among all other teachers. All of outside teachers were living in school hostel.

Classes were regular and punishment was generally drawing water for irrigating lot of trees/plants in the campus. Punishment was to be carried out during recess or after class hours. We used to eat our lunch in the interval/recess under the shadow of trees in campus. There was nothing like lunch- box. It was just 2/3 roties rapt in some cloth with Chatni (Sauce) of red chilies in between and water/homemade lassi. I used to come from 6 km one way by brisk walking/ running and hence it was like a regular exercise of 12 km everyday in all seasons. Drinking Water was available at only one place on the way and sometimes we used quench our thrust by drinking milk of stray goats direct from their teats. Despite that, I received an award (Towel) for regularity in attendance in addition to academic rewards in the annual function.

Every year, the Headmaster used to give hundreds of rewards to encourage the students in academics, sports and so many other activities. Once he called me to his home at Bhiwani city to give me free text books. I along with two of my other friends started at 4 am from my village and cover distance of 30 km on foot in 8 hours. It is like unbelievable tale now. On reaching his house, he gave us some snacks and then sent his son to buy books for me. All these were managed from meager funds of the school only. The Headmaster was not only good at teaching but a good administrator too. He used to call parents- teachers meeting every quarter which was rare at that time. That may be a reason that the students from this school stood first in the district during his tenure of 1963-66. I also passed matriculation in 1966 wining a Merit scholarship. It was despite the fact that science teacher was not available and a 12th pass Science student (F.Sc) was brought by Shashtri jee from Uttar Pradesh. He taught well but left school before the science practical where the teacher generally recommends about good students to the examiner. Our Practical exam was held at Charkhi Dadri 32 km from school. A Sardar jee was examiner and in the absence of our school teacher, I dared to approach the examiner myself and requested him to give me good marks as I hope to get scholarship. He was astonished and said,“apni Shifarish khud karate ho(Doing self recommendation)”. I said, “Sir, you may order me to do any practical”. He was satisfied him and asked to help some other students. He awarded me 29 marks out 30 which were useful in coming under scholarship cut off. It clearly depicts that it is the quality of teachers and their monitoring which is much more important than good pay only. It seems both of the above have been eroded in many states especially since 1980s where recruitment has become recommendation (shifarish) oriented. It is well proved by so many court cases against recruitment. Education used to be cited as one of ladders for reducing inequality but it has been broken by the high fee private schools which has differentiated the education of the rich and the poor.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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