The educational landscape in Kashmir has become a battleground between government committees, parent associations, and private school management, leaving the child at a disadvantage. To address this issue, we must focus on the responsibilities of each stakeholder in shaping the future of the children they are responsible for.
First and foremost, the government has a crucial role in creating policies that ensure the safety, education, and fair fee fixation for all children, as outlined in the new National Education Policy (NEP). However, the government must also consider the ground reality and ensure that policies are implemented effectively. For example, fixing the fee of private schools at an unrealistic amount of 2500 INR per month when it is believed that the government schools, as per the rough, and not documented, estimates spend almost more than 10,000 INR per month/per child, is not a viable solution. Such a policy can lead to inadequate infrastructure, underpaid teaching staff, lack of teaching and learning materials, and limited access to libraries and outdoor facilities. It is essential that the government takes responsibility for ensuring that policies are designed and implemented in a way that benefits all children, regardless of whether they attend private or government schools. By working together, we can ensure that our children have a bright future and the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.
Parents should understand that their role is to work together with schools and not impose their preferences on them. Once the fee has been accepted at the time of admission, it should not be open for discussion later. It is important for parents to respect the school’s pedagogy and values that they have chosen for their child. For instance, if a school follows a skill-based approach without textbooks in the lower primary department, parents should understand and not push for the introduction of books at a young age when their child’s fine motor skills are not fully developed. Similarly, if a school is progressive in its approach, parents should appreciate it rather than label it as a low moral school. On the other hand, if a school promotes Islamic values, it is not up to the parents to decide whether it is too Islamic or not.
Choosing a school for one’s child can be challenging, given the limited options available in Kashmir. Here are some criteria that parents can consider identifying a good school:
Student-Teacher Ratio: A ratio of more than 2:30 in LPD and 1:30 in higher classes can hinder child-centred learning. Schools with high student-teacher ratios (above 40) may have a more traditional approach, and parents may be better off choosing a government school in such cases.
Teacher Training: Parents should ask about the qualifications and training of the school’s teaching faculty. They should request transparency and proof of certifications. It is crucial to ensure that the teachers are appropriately evaluated and remunerated. It is time to give dignity to those who hold the future of our society in their hands.
Curriculum and Pedagogy: Parents should look for schools that prioritise child-centred learning over rote memorization and exam-focused teaching. Schools that offer a range of extracurricular activities and practical learning experiences are ideal. Parents should ask for detailed information about the school’s curriculum and pedagogy to ensure that it aligns with their values and expectations for their child’s education.
The role of school management in society is paramount in providing education that caters to the needs of the 21st century. However, there are often obstacles that dilute the original intent of creating a positive impact. While creating a socially impactful business is commendable, the welfare of children must remain the top priority. As a school manager, transparency is crucial since you hold the future of someone else’s child in your hands. If a legitimate concern arises, it’s important to take responsibility, self-reflect, and improve rather than become defensive. The primary responsibility is to provide the best possible education for children, even if it means sacrificing personal image. In addition, it’s crucial to communicate and help parents understand school policies, address concerns, and prioritize trust between parents, children, and the institution. Despite the enormity of the task, it’s essential for school managers and staff members to work together to ensure that no one within the institution prioritizes personal interests at the expense of children. Last but not least, there is absolutely no room for arrogance or threats towards parents who have trusted you. Your policies cannot be made just to protect yourself. If you have lied to parents about what you were delivering to their children, you must be held accountable. If misconduct is happening in your schools, such as bullying, cheating during exams, teaching the wrong curriculum at the wrong age, there should be a way of stopping you if you are not able to correct it. Too much, linked to education, revolves around its cost and not around the child’s learning and wellbeing. As long as your pocket is safe, our children’s education may not be.
In conclusion, all stakeholders must work together to ensure that children’s education in Kashmir is not hijacked by power struggles or self-interest. Parents must respect the boundaries of the school while maintaining a proactive attitude. School management must prioritize children’s well-being, and the government must ensure that policies benefit all children, regardless of where they attend school. By working collaboratively, we can ensure that Kashmir’s children have a bright future and receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century.
Author is co-founder roots, an education consultancy.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.