Education in the 21st century!

Education today we know is very competitive, especially in a country like India where the ratio of good schools to students is very disappointing. One will be shocked just to see the admission process for a child entering into kindergarten. While the government has rules about not questioning a child so young, the process now targets the parent. And children are also not technically left out of the whole process.. They have to come for what many schools call an “interaction day” where the teacher observes the child in a play room or a library in the school and judges his/her .. I don’t know what.. attitude? Aptitude?. For a child as young as 4 years old, what do we mean by attitude or aptitude? Or any other skills for that matter? How do you make sure a 4 year old understands that s/he is being watched over.. s/he may not just be in a mood but schools still insists and the parents comply and the child does his/her own thing.

My sister is currently filling up forms for my niece’s admission and also “preparing” her for the “interaction day”. I’ll just recall some of Nandini’s preparation here:

Mummy: Nandini what is your mother’s name?

Nandini: Mumma Pareek

Mummy: Nandini theek se bolo.. Monica Pareek

Nandini: par mumma aap to mumma ho na (but mummy aren’t you mummy?)

(We all laughed at that but my sister was obviously not amused.. she was too tensed to appreciate the humour or the innocence in that reply!)

The preparation continues…

Mummy: Nandini can you sing me a poem?

Nandini: Which one? Twinkle twinkle?

Mummy: any one.. okay sing twinkle twinkle..

Nandini: Twinkle Twinkle little star, la la la la la..

(she started rhyming the tune of the poem…)

It’s not that she didn’t know the poem, but she was not in a mood and how do you bring a child of 3 years in mood to sing something she doesn’t want to?

Before interaction, comes the parents’ screening.. Their education, profession and their ability to write essays! That would mean if I’m uneducated, I have no chance of getting my child into a good school and why? Because I failed? So my child suffers.. and even if I write that essay and still my child doesn’t go through, it’s my failure again!

So here is a question from the application form for a particular school for my niece’s admission:

Please share with us your thoughts, beliefs & expectations about the relative roles of parents and educators in bringing up children effectively in the 21st century.


And this question carries the maximum points in the whole form! I was reminded of my post-graduate application process time when I heard this one.. I’ve written enough essays for my post-graduate application but to think that a parent has to write similar essays for a child’s admission. God help Indian parents!

But then the schools may also say that faced with so many admission requests, they need to have some sort of criterion for selecting children. But in doing so they are denying a right to good education to many children. In my opinion the problem lies not in the admission process, but in the education process itself. Why can’t all our schools become the ‘good schools’? With education becoming a booming industry; with more and more people entering the so-called ‘upper middle class’; the distinction between schools will continue to exist and so will the pressure on parents and young children first to get admission and then to excel. Ranking in schools is another topic, which can trigger hot debates but I would rather not talk about that now and think about an answer to that question now!

Categories: around us, education, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Education in the 21st century!

  1. Naheed

    Nice blog but the reality behind it is scary ……… good luck to nandini and monica , more so monica I guess J I hope the system changes soon.

    • Ashima

      I don’t think there is much anyone can do to change the system.. with the population being so high and the number of teachers/schools limited.. Right to ‘good’ education is still a distant dream..

  2. richa

    As per my experience my son went for the interaction in one of the best schools in gurgaon. He was the most active child in the batch, yet he has not been selected nor called for re-interaction which again recently took place.V.disappointed as we don’t know what was the criteria of selecting a child….is it that both the parents should be working ??

    • Ashima

      I don’t know what is the exact criteria, it’s never spelled out in black or white. But what I have normally heard that if both parents are working, the child gets a preference. Also service class are given a higher preference than business class. But then none of these things are written in any school’s admission procedures.
      Good Luck to all parents!

  3. Vipula

    Nice article.
    Infact we are ourselves facing similar problems for our son’s admission. I am also trying to write an essay as a part of admission process.
    It would be really disheartening to fail in this essay writing competition despite of being an Assistant professor in a college.
    Hope “All schools become good schools in our country” so that children as well as their patents cherish school phase.

    • Ashima

      Thanks Vipula and good luck! I guess it’s the admission season time again…
      All the best to all parents!

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