11.21.2005

Self respect is the most Elementary Education

I was checking out Azim Premji Foundation's website regarding Universal Elementary Education.
I do have some opinions and beliefs about it and I have written them down as below. It is in no way complete. Will add on to it as and when i can get time out from my work!

When we talk about elementary education, one of my earliest memories in this regard, is of Saroja’s kids. Saroja was our domestic help for sometime at Hyderabad. On Sundays she used to come along with her two kids to help with the cleaning at home. This was the morning prime time slot when a lot of kid programs would be aired on DD1. Both her kids, hardly over 7-8 years old would be glued to the television along with my brother and me who were in the same age group. It used to rather depress me that they would sit on the floor and watch while my brother and I would sit on the comfortable cane chairs. I would invariably ask them to sit up on the other chairs. The kids needed a lot of goading to share even a single chair between themselves for the simple reason that they did not want my charity. I respected this self respect in them and many a times would simply sit on the floors my self. As I knew those kids had not yet started going to school. So it must mean that they had learnt this at home.

For any kind of education to be a success I believe that it should start with inculcating self respect in one self. There are a lot of initiatives being started for elementary education of the urban and rural poor children. But what the initiatives need to emphasise on could be to drive home the point of self importance. The children need to understand that this is not a charity drive for them. They should not start taking for granted the efforts of the innumerable volunteers who are trying to make their lives different. And the volunteers also should not vent their frustrations on the unsuspecting children.

Educating children really begins at home. It is the parents who should start instilling such traits in their children. Today, more and more people are realizing the necessity and outcome of education. This force should be garnered.

I believe it is very difficult to achieve success from any huge effort made on primary education unless it is supplemented by another group working towards issues of the parents as well. A child is a mere pawn in the hands of his/her parents/guardians till such an age where he/she can take his own decisions. Education is a major decision in life which needs to be taken early and hence by the parents.

Children coming from poor families would not have access to knowledge that an urban middle class or rich kid would have with just the click of a mouse. Outdoor programs and educational tours should be made part of the elementary education. Group activities and sports activities would help in inculcating self confidence in children and would also bring out their versatile talents. These are the formative years in one’s character and hence it should abound with a very healthy, competitive and humanitarian atmosphere. The children should learn to look beyond the four walls of their house and imagine beyond the boundaries of their school. Education should not be an endless effort at getting the multiplication tables correctly memorized but should be more of an effort in application of mind with an abacus kind of approach.

Coming back to children not taking the education program for granted. There are a number of schemes through which the basic needs of a child is taken care of by the institution if he/she is willing to come to school. There is a huge drawback that I can see of this. The children get so used to their basic needs being taken care of that there is a fear of stepping out into the world independent. The ‘earn while you learn’ approach would prove very beneficial. The children would learn to be independent at a very early stage. Providing them with a lot of well thought of options apart from just the pot making, doll making, weaving etc would help them in recognizing their interests as well in the long run.




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