Things you should demand from your child's school in India

8:56 AM

A good school is not about the academics alone, it should promote respect, ensure safety and hygiene and have all communication lines opened with the parents.

I made it no secret that we were not happy with  Ishita's previous school, this is what resulted in this super long Summer break we just ended.

In the past week that Ishita got back to school, I heard her talk more about what she did and how exiting it was than I did the past year in her old school.
This simply nailed the last nail in my long reflection about what a school should be about, for both children AND parents.

I will leave the whole curriculum and board alphabet soup out of the equation here, simply because there are options that work better for different people. But, I will focus on how a school should treat you parents (and money provider) and how it treats kids.

Our former school is a textbook example of what should NOT happen, and what parents across India should start going against. Sadly, our old school was not an isolated case, there are many just like it in our area. We chose it on the promises made by the school and it's curriculum, and we felt cheated on that front, but what pissed us up the most was the unprofessionalism and blatant disrespect for parent's time and human value (not to mention the kids).

I decided to make a list of all the things that drove us crazy there, and how sadly, I was the only one among the parents having an issue with, or at least being vocal about.


As a parent who pays, let's face it, hefty school fees each year. The LEAST you should demand from the school is for them to keep all communication lines open and make it easy for you, parent to address a concern and issue. 
Our old school didn't see it as so important : The phone line almost never got picked up. The teachers failed to check the school diary for notes regularly. The promises of monthly phone updates fell through after 2 months. The bus vendor provided us with mobile phones, half of which were constantly switched off. And, when we finally got the school to pick up and raised a bus issue, they would send us back to the bus vendor. 

Then, there was the fact that the only teacher you could get to talk to was the homeroom teacher, in our case it was the Maths teacher, I never got a hold of the science teacher, Hindi teacher and did once get the English teacher who upon my raising the concern of Ishita copying blindly off the black board without knowing how too read said : "Don't worry she is fine". She spent an entire year NOT understanding what she wrote, I wonder how that is fine. 

More troubling was the time we got a cryptic message at 11.30pm telling us about a Bus strike that may or may not happen in the morning. 
Came the morning, the bus wasn't there, so I dropped Ishita in school myself. When it was time to pick her up, I stepped out of my building to see the bus picking up the afternoon kids on our route! 
I spend 20 minutes of my auto ride to attempt to get the phone picked up. When I finally got them on, they pretty much made me feel like I was making a fuss about nothing and that it was all my fault. 
I urged them to NOT put Ishita on the bus as I was on the way. I was told to pick her up in her classroom. 
Guess what happened? Yup I reached the school, and they didn't inform the teacher about the change and they were about to make her board the damn school bus! I threw another fit, and they again made me feel like I was over-reacting and that no, they did nothing wrong because the SMS about the strike warning was to let us know there was a POSSIBILITY of strike, sending another one telling us the strike got cancelled was too much for them...right!

Parents aren't walking money purse

Sure, schools are costing money and operate as businesses in most Indian cities. That, however, is NO excuse to constantly burden parents with extra fees. Especially when it comes to pieces of uniform, special events costumes, and field trips. 
The school KNOWS it will happen every year, so why not just include it into the fees and spare us the hassle of writing cheques, or worse sending cash along with the kid to school. 

This happened way too much in Ishita's old school, and I ask you, what part of sending a 6 years old to school with an enveloppe containing 1000 rupees in cash is safe? 1000 rupees for the cost of a martial art uniform they could either have included in the fees, or asked us to purchase directly from the vendor along with all the other uniform things. 
But no! Let's have hundreds of kids carry 1k to school instead, so much safer!

Don't get me started on annual day costumes, last year we paid 800 rupees for an army man costume rental! And I was still in the group where kids actually wore a costume that looked fancy. I have a friend whose son was in the "fishermen" group, she paid 800 for them to provide a rental piece of checked patterned fabric and ordered to make her son wear a white vest and shorts from home! 800 bucks for a kiddie sized cotton dhoti...yes that is right!

Keep your promises

We made the choice to go for a Cambridge curriculum, that was OUR choice, we paid the fees for it accordingly, and we made that choice based on the promises made by the school. 
Us, like many parents were in because we wanted a more concept based learning approach, free of unnecessary competition, exams and realistic expectations for the children. 

We were cheated on all the line, the school only saw their Cambridge licence as a way to extort more money from the parents, to justify it, they pushed the curriculum to the extreme and pretty much did 99% of rote learning (copying everything off the black board into a notebook). If we wanted that kind of teaching methodology, we would have gone for another school.
I also found out that in an effort to impress parents, they skipped the Maths and English curriculum for Grade 1 and made them go straight ahead to Grade 2. 

When I pointed this out to the teacher, I got a lecture on how I was wrong, and how International schools are more advanced. At which point I asked the teacher to have a good look at my face and asked her to venture a guess as to where I am from. 
Embarrassed, she then fond nothing better than to blurt out "Ma'am don't talk like that in front of your daughter, you are destroying her confidence and burning her future". Say what? I told her to hold her tongue and stormed out after I found talking to the principal was not even going to happen. 

Maintain a certain level of hygiene and SAFETY in the school premises

Seriously, that should be a no brainer. Sadly, many school don't think it is important. Our old school belonged to the rank of schools who didn't care.

On one floor having about 500 students, there was one boy toilet with two cubicle, and one girl toilet with 2 cubicles. 
Both toilets were constantly filthy, as the school cleaning staff didn't see it fit to keep it clean more than a handfull of time a day. There were urine stains on the ground, leaky faucet, mosquitoes gallore, and according to Ishita there wasn't even soap to wash your hand afterward. 
Then one day Ishita came home, telling me that boys have been given permission to use the girl's room because theirs were broken, it lasted over a week! 
Because yes, teach "Good touch, Bad touch" in school, but then allow boys to invade a space meant for girls!

Each time the school was doing improvement somewhere in the school, it meant having construction workers roam around the building DURING school hours. Really?

Parents have lives outside the school

Yes, I know it comes as a shocking revelation, but parents work jobs to pay your teacher's salary! The least you can do is treat them with respect. 
That means that if you planned a holiday calendar, you stick to it. It also mean that you keep those effing "half days" to a minimum.
Last but not least, stop assuming there will be someone at home the whole time to accommodate your crazy schedule changes. Namely, stop assuming WOMEN are first and foremost mothers and wives! We want India to go toward the path of equality for both genders. Making working women negotiate leaves with their boss at the last minute is not going to promote that, or make women more willing to enter the work force. 
It's the 21st century, and if you can teach kids about computers, internet, science and technology, assume that it also mean women aren't just chapati makers who stay home. 

That crazy school even made us endure an extra week of "leave" because of "Urgent repair". When I found out all the classrooms were in use and tried to raise the concern the school quickly cut all communication lines. 

The best part was the fact they cheated on the report cards at the end of the year. Announcing that there were 200 days of school in the year, where in fact, there have been only 174. 
54 of these days were half days, on the account of "exam revision period" and "Adjustment period" for the 1st graders. This mean that 6 months of the year were spent out of the school and of the actual school days, only about 120 were real full time days. What kind of working parents can work just 3 months in full and get away with so many leaves and erratic timing? 

Shocking, but schools that respect parents and kids exist. 

The thing I heard the most from parents stuck in school as bad or worse than our old school was : "What can we do, we have no choice"

Well, yes, you do have a choice, and if everybody were protesting that kind of crap, schools would march to a different tune. In the end, they want to operate like businesses, and without the patronage of parents paying school fees they would be in trouble. 

Then there are the schools that may cost a tiny teeny bit more (but not much) and accept that having functioning phones and emails for the parents to communicate is not much asking. That and clean premises free of pests, germs and unauthorised personnel. 

Our current school is a perfect example of that, and it's not the only one where a MINIMUM of safety, and respect is ensured to both kids and parents. 

Time to put an end to crappy school behaviour and standards!

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  1. Very true!!! Education is a big business in India.Has been for a long time!! Then there is the lack of awareness of how the IB or the Cambridge board works. There is a shortage of good teachers,who r willing to explore the new methods of teaching or trying to implement the non rote teaching ways. My children r studying in IB board here. The school is excellent in implementing the IB or Montessori way of teaching till UKG. But from grade 1 ,which is the actual start of primary years, the teachers r not able to effectively groom the students to look in depth for the quest of knowledge. They have good facilities,well maintained campus,open communication lines with parents, etc. But the teachers r all newly passed out, lesser paid, who don`t know how to handle kids smoothly and actually implement the IB syllabus in class. But there is no rote learning also, making our kids having lesser knowledge of everything!! U r right.We r not helpless if all or atleast many parents come together and fight for our cause. We r presently in in that mode in my son`s class. But majority of parents in school here r not prepared to fight. They r ready to pay hefty donation in future for college or admissions than fight with school or change the school. For them school is just a certificate or degree not knowledge!!

    Also many r nor aware what do they do in IB or how to they teach or impart knowledge. That is taken advantage of by school!! Over here in Coimbatore, there were hardly any CBSE or even ICSE board schools in 2009. But since then there r many new schools functioning. CBSE,ICSE then 2 IB and 3 Cambridge board. They charge fees higher than those charged by normal sate board schools in the name facilities,international tag, activity based learning tag etc.. It has become a more profitable business than the the hosiery or textile mill business Coimbatore was known for before.

    How different was ur school from any of these u find in India? IB the widely popular or majorly preferred board in Switzerland? Is education given importance for the knowledge and making of a good human being or is it mark driven mad market like it is in India?

    Would like ur views on it.

    1. In Switzerland we have a system that is more about the development of the child than the academic achievement. In my State there was no term exams until Highschool, but we had weekly tests and quizzes that were marked from Grade 2 onwards (easy ones in the earlier grades). The marks you got all year round during these tests were rounded up to an average per topic, and you needed a minimum mark to get to pass to the next grade.

      In Grade 6 we were at the end of the Primary level and into the scondary level called "middle school" at this point the marks we got in Grade 6 determined the variety of options we got to choose from in Middle school, Latin major, Science Major or Language major were options for students who got at a mark of at least 4 out of 6, those who had below were confined to the "GK" section for a year and if they did well they could go on to one of the regular major the next year. The ones that failed to pass 6th Grade ended up in the "practical" section, where the level was kept way down and kids were taught more basic stuff in an effort to rehab them to a higher section the next year.

      At the end of Middle school you have 3 options : 4 years of highs chool in a major of your choice, 4 years of Commercial and management high school or another specialised school like visual or performing arts school and last but not least, the Apprenticeship route, were you learn special vocational professions like Decorator, Dental technician, lab technician, painters, accountant and the like. These professions are learnt on the field, so when you are hired as an apprentice you are paid an apprentice salary in a company and sent to a professional school once a week to learn all the theoretical stuff your profession requires you to know. An apprenticeship lasts 2-4 years depending the profession.

      You can start an apprenticeship as late as you want, but the minimal age at which you can do it is 15.

      If you choose the high school route, you basically continue doing a more advanced version of middle school for 4 years and you graduate at age 19 at the earliest. Then you go to university or do whatever you want in life, nobody cares.
      Most high school students do it either because they haven't yet figured out what they want, or because they want to go in a specific field of study like Medicine, Physics, or Literature in University.
      University will take all students in, no competition to get it, BUT they will make the first and in some case second year extremely though to naturally weed out the kids that just got in because "why not". The Faculty of Medicine is the most notorious for it, out of 6 years of Medicine studies, the first two are mostly about Maths and Physics and VERY little Biology and anatomy just to be able to kick all the "tourists" out. Half of the effective that entered in 1st year usually leave by the end of second year and only the ones super serious about becoming doctors keep on going.

      I think the Swiss system is less about the marks you have than your abilities, they want critical thinking, street smarts and behaviour over anything else.
      For example, you can't possibly pass a test or exam just learning mock questions by heart, there is no such thing as a mock exam. Then in maths for example, the teacher will not really care as much about your result as much as they care about the process.

      That means that they will not be satisfied with you providing the correct answer to an equation alone. Sure they will give you points for being correct, but NOT the full points if you didn't put a detailed process on paper about HOW you came to that conclusion. Likewise, even if you got the answer wrong, you will still get a few points for writing down the steps that lead you to your incorrect answers. it will not be high points, but still points. The system encourage kids to try and not be afraid to fail and help teachers see where things went wrong to explain it better the next time if that makes sense.

    2. Wow!! Such a beautiful system!! No wonder we r way behind!! Hope they bring such system here too?What is "GK"? What if they don`t go to any university after the 4 years of high school?Is their education good enough for them to get a good employment opportunities? Or do they have to study further to have a decent career opportunity? How affordable is university education? Is graduation degree alone considered good enough or post graduation or MBA`s or professional degrees expected? R there IB and Cambridge board schools popular there?

    3. GK means "General Knowledge".

      Once you go out of high school you are pretty much qualified at nothing, those who do graduate from high school but don't want to go to university usually either do an apprenticeship, or a Specialised studies school to learn a trade.

      University in Switzerland is more or less "free", the tuition is minimal. BUT there are no school campus, so all students are in charge of finding their accommodation if they are coming from another city or a small town. And they are 100% in charge of generating the income for said accommodation. Since only big cities have a university, finding a flat to live in is a battle ground and the rents are SUPER steep. I lived in Geneva, my tiny 26 square meter studio in an old, poorly insulated house was 660 CHF (that is about 10k rupees)

      All students are pretty much expected to have jobs on the side, namely waitress, clerk, delivery, and janitor (maid).

      In the professional life, the degree you have is not that important, companies could not care less about you being a post-grad, or a bachelor or what. The work experience and skill is given a LOT of importance.

      You can have two Doctors competing for a post in one hospital, one with higher marks but no work experience whatsoever, and a doctor with less high mark but years of experience working at Pizza Hut, it's the Pizza Hut experience Doctor that is likely to make the cut.

      The unspoken rule in most of Europe is that you are SCREWED if you can't add any professional experience to your fresher's resume. It will not cut it. It's all in your advantage to list the years you baby sat, the volunteering you did to decorate your county fair's venue, or all the university students job you may have done, as unglamorous as "janitor in a bank" may sound, this could give you the edge against all the students that didn't go get a small petty job as an aside.

      The focus placed on the "street smart" is high, and even parents that "could" afford to pay the rent for their kids usually don't. Not that many people could pay that to begin with. But the point is the instant you are out of high school and into university, you are expected to hype your street smart and work on making that resume look like you did more than just get good grades.

      We don't have those boards, 99% of the elementary schools are public in Switzerland, you are assigned one by default based on where you live, you can't choose. All schools in the the same State will teach the same State approved curriculum, tests and exam content is left at the discretion of the teacher, the State doesn't interfere in that, and there are no State board exams centers or anything.

      IB is the International Baccalaureate, create by the International School of Geneva. This school is out of reach for mere mortal, it' mostly diplomats who send their kids there. The other private schools follow different methodology, there is no regulations. It's up to the parents and the kids to make sure they are at par with the public system to get a fair fighting chance in university, if they didn't study the right stuff...too bad for them.

      In the end it is not that we don't have a level of competition it's just that we don't use abstract things such as marks to decide the definitive worth of someone.

    4. Super!!! Its is best way to make education reach to all levels of society in an uniform,unbiased way!! Ur systems helps in giving equal opportunity to all and let the best win. It is true that work experience helps u in seeing a larger picture of where u stand with ur knowledge n education. So nice that public systems r successful than private ones!! Why r these boards being pushed here? Is it the money factor or the failure of govt. in education sector or the affordability factor helping them push it? And why r they so costly? What is it they have that exclusive from other good european state schools or the Indian cbse or icse?

      Is it worth the money that they charge? Or is it a mere luxury brand?

    5. I think the problem with the Indian system is that the government didn't adapt to a rapid economical growth after the market liberalisation. They old system worked when the private sector wasn't as developed as now.
      In Switzerland we pay steep taxes and it is a system in which nobody can really avoid having to pay them if they are taxable. Then the tax money collected is actually used to benefit the community, not straight in the pocket of corrupt babus, as a result, education can be more or less free. At the else tray level we get everything provided by the Governement in Swiss schools, all the text books are on loan to us, we have to take care of them, and return them at the end of the school year so they can be used for years and years. If one gets damaged, the parents have to pay a fine I think.

      In India private schools are taking advantage of the fact a segment of the population has more of a disposable income which is disturbing. As I told the teacher in the old school at one point "Since you guys treat education like a business, don't act surprised if I end up leaving and putting my money somewhere else"

      A lot of parents feel powerless when in fact they do have a lot more power than they think against those crazy school practices.

    6. Yes the govt. has not adapted to the changes.Also the society at large still has same expectations. Wish we had the system of reusing textbooks!! SO much of unnecessary expense can be cut back!!
      Even parents r to be blamed for that wrong attitude towards education!! The belief that money can get u anything ""should change!!

    7. The text book thing has me fuming, we spend 3-5k a year on textbooks alone, then they sit idle at home for no good reason and gather dust.
      Back in Geneva we would be given those books by our teacher and told to have them covered in book wrap paper or plastic, then we would bring them back to school and keep them in our desk, those school desks had hidden storage, it was a bit like a locker, but at your desk.
      At the end of the school year, we would give all those books back to the teacher who would inspect them for defects and they would be send back to storage and be used again with the next generation of whatever grade we were in.

      We were not allowed to write inside those books, every notes, answers to questions and the like were to be written in a notebook.

      I started having to buy books when I started high school, nothing before that. And we usually would check the message board at the school to see which senior put an ad to sell their old books at a discount or check the second hand book stores in town before buying it at full price.

      In the end it also benefits the environment, less paper waste, not to mention it promotes a sense of responsibility in children as we have to really take care of these books who have been generously lent to us for a full academic year.

      I totally agree, the "money can get you anything" attitude definitely has to change. I understand where it comes from in India, but that doesn't mean people should continue sticking to it now.

    8. That is a good system of inculcating the values of caring for others things and also the idea of saving money. Shivam`s school does not have textbooks till now. But they waste lot of paper in the name of bringing information,projects etc. when these can as well be written in the notebook!! When I was in school we had to buy textbook from the designated shop,Some kids use to bring hand me down textbooks. This has become a unknown thing for today`s generation.The parents r to be blamed for that.They dont want them to hav anything secondhand.
      I feel Indians r less environment friendly. They r more selfish n bothered about their own needs n desires rather than the surroundings or the environment which will be affected!! There few NGOs and individuals who r doing their bit to bring awareness, But the attitude has to change in each individual. Even the simple process of sorting their garbage into wet n dry is not done in many house holds.

      Money is something which rules this society than we ruling it!! Its a wrong but widely popular belief that money is everything in ones life!!

      I have no hopes that it will change in our society. It requires the change at top,the ones who run our country!!

    9. This is something I miss from Europe: Second hand stores, or thrift stores as we call them too.
      You can find some brand new outfits in those, or almost never worn stuff. Then there are the second hand stores for furniture, books, CDs and home appliances as well. For students with a limited budget those places really rock, and yes, it keeps a lot of stuff out of the garbage.

      My two favourites were the second hand book store and the second hand Audio CD store. A new CD was about 25-30 CHF in the late 90's early 00's the second hand store sold many new titles at 15 CHF and oldies below 10 at time, this came as a real bargain. Lots of these CDs ended up there when a person bought the whole CD just for one song and decided they really didn't like the rest of the album that much and re-sold the CD a few months or weeks after purchasing it.
      Now that I remember, the shop was also selling DVDs, again at a bargain price considering they were even pricier than Audio CDs when bought new.

    10. There r second hand stores for books, but furniture also, but not so popular.But with advent of internet they r slowly becoming popular. We had music shops which would record the list of songs u wanted form different cassettes and cds in one cassette or cd. Then we had video shops which would give u movie video cassette foe hire. We even could hire bicycle for a small charge on hourly basis!! It was fun. We learnt to share things with others, and had respect and value of everything around us even if it was second hand!!! We miss all that in todays time.

    11. Oh yes we had the VCR and later DVD rental shop, we paid to get the movie for 24 hours at a time before having to return it. Some even doubled as a "mini mart" selling basic pantry items and snack, it became very handy on Sundays where all the grocery stores are closed or in late hours when you suddenly invited friends over for movie watching and ran out of snacks :-)

      We also had a State Audio labirary where you could borrow CD for a month and it was free. The catch was that like the book library, they didn't have the latest titles available as the library was a government one and free. But you could rediscover oldies and discover lesser known artists. I used the Audio library mostly for my instrumental and relaxation music needs and copied everything on a tape at home.

    12. Anonymous10:56 AM

      I remember that VCR renting was quiet a craze in those days. With VCR and video cassette you could also rent a colour tv. It was a package deal.


    13. @Apple, it didn't go that far in Switzerland, you still needed to have your VCR player and TV, but movie rental was really popular in the late 80's and 90's.
      I remember my dad settling arguments about which movie to rent for movie night at home by flipping a coin because my sister and I could not agree on one movie LOL

  2. Anonymous11:58 AM

    The lure of the English speaking public schools was very strong even in my childhood. Parents cut their expenses so that their children could speak in English. Perfectly intelligent Government schools children were left with the inferiority complex that they could not speak english. When you are imparting technical education in english then why keep children away from it just because of some linguistic pride. The idea was to keep the standards of Government schools down so that this business could grow. What is surprising that some of the Government schools and Kendriya Vidayalas or Central Schools actually have very good standards and surprising very clean and well furnished. Their standards are in no way inferior to public schools. However, vast majority of them lacking in facilities.

    In those days activities were few so the schools could not imagine how to extract money. The parents understood that there are some weird heads under which money was charged. Many parent did complain. In those times, with limited income and "socialist poverty", this expense was too much. Most of the time it was academics and whatever we studied was gradually enhanced so that we understood the concepts. Those were quieter times and I never felt that we are rushed into something. I knew that the education that I was getting in whatever form, was definitely a privilege.

    Most people in India rarely complain because the system is indifferent in just about everything. Those who do, are harassed by the school authorities. Their children are victimized. The annual fee cannot be more than Rs.5000/-, as per law, it goes into few lakhs. There is also a parents federation to raise the issues of the parents but like all things, very few know about it. Unless you have deep pockets, you cannot take on the system. Many of the schools are run by politicians or have such people on the board of directors. After real estate, education is the single most source of black money. The schools come up overnight in lands designated for schools while hospitals take years to build even after sanction by the government.

    We choose this school for my son, because it had a special educator. The school has one special educator for the entire school. At least, something is better than nothing. The teachers keep on changing every year, the pay is low. It becomes very difficult for even a normal child to establish rapport with a new teacher. My wife is constantly in touch with the teachers since my son has speech problems. We are always there, meeting with the teachers, trying to cajole them to be more patient with our son. Overall, the teachers are sympathetic and the children are good to my son. The schools is new so the facilities are good, not but they are teaching advanced concepts to little children. I don't know whether word problems in maths are appropriate in third grade. My son is facing the same problems that other children are facing. My wife says rote or not, he is studying and competing according to his age, with his disability, which itself is a achievement or sorts.

    In India, it is not about the school, it is about parents. Whatever the child achieves is solely due to the parents. Schools have precious little to offer besides a structured format of education, to deliver the requisite facts. If you have to compete outside, you need to seek other avenues.


    1. This is what I said, I am leaving the whole curriculum and teaching methodology out here. It's not one size fits all.
      But parents who aren't voicing their concerns when you have random workers roaming the school during school hours. Or communication lines that aren't kept opened, or unsanitary premises and boys forced to use the girls room there is an issue, and sadly parents don't seem to think it is something to protest in mass.

      There are some ICSE and CBSE schools who are awesome with good amenities, and you have Cambridge and IB schools that are nasty. Parents can still switch board if they are not satisfied with a methodology. But their time and the safety of their kids should NEVER be compromised upon EVER. And sadly, many schools are now all about making money and FORGETING where the money comes from and parents not realising that if every parents stood up for the cause of children basic safety, or more communication, the school would actually have to listen or risk loosing more than just one parent.

      I kid you not, I was the ONLY one raising these basic concerns with the school, I knew some parents were as unhappy as I was, but they didn't even want to bring it up with the concerned body.

      In the end, I had the options finding a better school, but it's not for everybody. The old school in question went through massive reconstruction work this Summer, it reopened late, and still then it was full of construction workers, paint fumes, drilling, hammering and sharp metal rubish scattered everywhere making the school extremely unsafe for kids to attend. I'm glad to be out of that mess trust me.

    2. Anonymous2:24 PM

      Yes, there have a few cases lately in news, of children wandering off in the school premises and falling into some swimming pool. This is definitely a potential danger. In may son's school they do accompany children whenever they are outside the classes. At least it appears so.


    3. In Ishita's old school they thankfully didn't have a pool! Considering the fact the teachers didn't seem to care about safety, it would have freaked me out.

      In her current school they have enough well trained attendants to keep an eye on the kids and the kids are not wandering everywhere anyway.
      They have Swimming lessons, but it's not in the school itself, they are well escorted to that class it seems. I know from other parents, the swimming classes will only start after the monsoon is over.

  3. Anonymous12:20 PM

    It is not about education. It is about what is demanded or an individual by the society. Indian society has very basic demands from the individual. You grow up, get good education, good job, get a good match. Naturally, the education was geared towards that goal. Children had very few activities beyond education. Now, parents see the advantages of encouraging hobbies in children and ofcouse the awareness has increased. This is not just an Indian phenomenon it is an Asian phenomenon.

    In china, there is all important entrance test which decides which university they would attend. Children are seen giving exams with saline drips in exam halls.

    In South Korea, officials scan the streets to find children who are studying late at night. Apparently, the government is worried about the health of children in this exam crazy country and the suicides of Japan are well known. So, I guess we are the less crazy of the lot in Asia.


  4. Anonymous12:29 PM

    With a child with disability, I now understand the importance of extra curricular activities to channelize the energies of the child. It works a long way in keeping him calm and focused and very good for social skills. I have got lots to say on this subject, perhaps the words are not enough to sum up everything.


    1. This is of course a curriculum thing :-) not the basics every school should have and yet don't (like no mosquitoes infested toilets and rats running wild in the canteen).

      But yes, extracurricular are important for a well rounded development, in my opinion at least. I understand how some might not see the benefit and opt for a more academic school though.
      But safety of the kids on the school premises and the ability to contact the teachers for queries and concern should be an absolute every schools.

  5. This right here about the Swiss/European system-
    "the Apprenticeship route, were you learn special vocational professions like Decorator, Dental technician, lab technician, painters, accountant and the like. These professions are learnt on the field, so when you are hired as an apprentice you are paid an apprentice salary in a company and sent to a professional school once a week to learn all the theoretical stuff your profession requires you to know. An apprenticeship lasts 2-4 years depending the profession. "

    Ok, I'm going to rant a little off topic here so be forewarned!

    The vocational studies in Cyn's quote I posted above RARELY happen in the US educational system. There is this unspoken theory that every American's goal is to go to university- no matter if they wish to be a plumber, hair dresser, accountant, fashion merchandiser, a sales representative at a photography store, tv repairperson, shoe salesperson, whatever.
    There are hardly any 'special studies schools' or apprenticeships for professions except for hairdressing/cosmetology or very expensive culinary schools. Why the US educational system thinks everyone could/should go to university is beyond me but it has created a mess. I was impressed the first time I went to Switzerland and went into a camera shop- the 22 yr old sales rep knew everything about photography & even taught me a bit about photography. (He apprenticed as a photography sales/equipment specialist at 18 yrs old.) Go to a camera shop in the US (or any other specialty shop) and you'd better know what you want because the sales rep doesn't know anything about what they're selling. WOW was I impressed. Same thing when I lived in Berlin-go to a shop be it a butcher, shoe store, bakery, hardware shop, or perfumery and the sales reps are THOROUGHLY TRAINED. & KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THEIR SERVICE & PRODUCT.
    Anyway, so what we've got going on in the US is a hit or miss educational system trying to bring ALL students up to university level by age 18 yrs. It isn't working. Not only is the US lacking in tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, - people that can actually do things or are knowledgeable in sales or running a shop- but hardly any US high school graduates are even prepared for university level studies by the time they graduate at 18 yrs old! (If an 18 yr old can read, sort of write/navigate a keyboard and barely do basic maths they graduate.) So guess what happens the first 2 years at any US university? The university student spends those first 2 years learning everything he/she SHOULD have learned in high school. That's right, the first 2 yrs of university in the US are a repeat of general studies that were or should have been taught before age 18. Why does this happen? Because the US public school system is so haphazard and incongruous in it's curriculum and teaching methods it fails to get hardly any students to the same "university" level. There are great schools and there are horrible schools across the US. (IMHO- University isn't for everybody & there should be no shame or stigma in not being university material.)
    So anyway, my point is that the Indian educational "system" seems to be going the American route where they churn out students that aren't ready for anything, not even balancing their own checkbook much less attending university or learning a trade.

    Ok, rant over. Phew.

    1. The apprentice route was supposed to be for middle school students who can't go to high school because they lacked the marks to make it. That lead people to see it as "low education", at least during my parent's generation.

      Now its ultra specialised, and ultra technical. In my 4 years apprenticeship as an upholsterer decorator, not only did I learn about the art of making sofas, arm chairs and do jobs like putting a wall to wall carpet or calculating the amount of material needed for a quality window treatment.

      I also learned art history because you need it to restore antiques the right way and to not sound like a sinister idiot in front of your posh clients. I also learned how to tell dozens and dozens of fabric material, and weave type. BTW I keep laughing when people call satin a people it is a WEAVE not a material!

      I also learned about hardware, safety measures and all the different type of foams, glues, solvents and their use in the profession. And because we were still decorators I had technical drafting classes as well.
      Then there was the class on laws, and accounting, so that we knew out rights and knew how to bill our work, not to mention the advanced class on writing a resume and cover letter that would get the attention of employers on the job market.

      By the end of those 4 years, not only was I qualified for the job I learned, I also could dance circle around high school graduates who don't learn a thing about resume writing and law.
      I know it because I did drop out of high school realising I really didn't want to go to university.

      You are right it seems the Indian system is emulating the US model. Hopefully things will change as the demand for highly specialised professionals is increasing in India. The question is will the education system step up to the challenge?

    2. True!! We r copying them in education believing that they r the best!! Also the specialized fields r not publicized or made popular to the common man. Many still believe tha doctors and engineers r the only best fields or option!! Likewise Its MBA,CA and such degrees which r known to many. There is no proper information,guide,encouragement as to any other options for education!! The govt. has not done enough and will not do so in future also!! They r not able to see beyond money,power,marks,corruption and fame.

    3. Yeah the problem is that you can't maintain a healthy nation with just Doctors and engineers :-)

      The other problem is that MBAs have pretty much lost their value around here, too many students go for one because it is the "right thing to do" even though they will never really go in business or management or even like the field.

    4. Anonymous10:55 AM

      Here is a news about the takeover of a prominent public school by the Delhi Government due to alleged irregularities. It is hailed as a victory by the parents who were harassed by the arbitrary fee hikes.

      About doctors and lawyers, during pre independence era, it was the lawyers who were held in high esteem. Most of our leaders from Gandhi to Nehru spend good number of days as lawyers and then moved on to politic. After independence it was doctors and engineers. The Mythical doctor who lived in a remote village without facilities, serving the villagers is almost a folklore. This is where doctor became god for Indians and we put him on a pedestal. There was a halo around these jobs. There is also a joke that if you throw a stone in India, it will most probably fall on a engineer. Indians basically did not want to indulge in any work which involved use of hands, due to the caste system. This has cost us dearly. Due to law status of manual arts, the new generation of traditional artist families do not want to take them up.

      Now, ofcourse the mantra is "skill development" by our new PM. This is the new buzzword Without skill development it is impossible to give jobs to the millions of people both educated and uneducated.


    5. The lure of the MBA in the US started about 15 yrs ago when certain universities openly advertised that their grads started at 6 figure salaries (an average of $250,000USD). That was somehow going to justify the high tuition (anywhere from $30,000 to $75,000 yearly depending on the university), whether it was public or private. Yes, there are some companies that only hire Stanford MBA grads or UC MBA grads or whatever prestigious MBA program grads. Yes, many MBAs did and do make 6 figure salaries their 1st year out of university. But now there are so many MBAs out there I think most are in boring middle management jobs with salaries that are much lower than $250k.

      At the university level the US educational system does quite well- at lower levels the US educational system is for the most part a babysitting service.

      The problem I see with the US university system is there are so many degrees that are useless. My first degree was in pharmacy, I chose it because I knew I could get a job as a pharmacist anywhere & immediately & it was a great degree to get into other programs like med school, law, or just about anything else. A lot of my classmates in pharmacy school already had useless degrees in such things as public administration, sociology, advertising, creative writing, languages, & other subjects where there were no jobs. They ended up going to pharmacy school to get a degree in a field where jobs were available to pay off student loans from their 1st useless degree. Believe me, pharmacy has to be the most boring & "unsexy" of studies, accounting might be worse but not by much.

  6. Like every society, schools in India are carrying the most important duty of laying down the foundation stone of the nation's education system and they decide the richness of human resources in the country.

    1. Have you bother to READ the blog post before simply dropping your comment? My guess is no, and I know the only reason you commented is to drop your name and clickable profile so people can buy stuff from your business.

      I'll let this comment slide, do it again and it will be deleted. If you want to promote your business on my blog, feel free to contact me and ask for my advertising fees.


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