Looks like we aren’t the only people feeling cornered by the RTE, eh? An article in the TOI today describes how enrollment in primary schools is coming down.
While I do blame it on the RTE and how RTE has changed focus from education and literacy to the more profitable infrastructure development and standardization, I think it is basically that the education system of India itself is such a monolith and largely useless, that its a great symbolic gesture for those who can afford it, and are not particularly bothered about their child learning or being happy as long as they are the same as other kids. On the other hand, people who can’t afford it are increasingly coming to the point where they must ask what all the fuss is about?
They have seen people pass through the education system without becoming wiser or more capable. So why? Quite rightly, they are choosing how to spend the money. The losers in this business are the kids, because unlike homeschooling, “not enrolling in school” is not necessarily something that makes their life better.
If the government wants to make education widely accepted in the country, it is going to have to make it relevant and interesting. Today’s system is born from another culture altogether. At the most, it is directly useful to people in the city hoping to make a living through their literacy skills. It leaves the vast majority of India distinctly irrelevant.
While I firmly believe that a child learns, and it is not our business to invest vast amounts of their time in whipping them toward some target we call necessary, I do think that encouraging practical, engaging and learning oriented curriculums that they can start applying to their lives as they live is quite likely to get children hooked to the learning process itself. This may mean trashing all that we call education and creating a new option.
You may download a copy of the RTE document: Right To Education or RTE 2009-The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009