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I am back from a district in eastern Maharashtra. I have been there twice in succession over the last 30 days. The district is beautiful and rich in terms of natural resources read forests and mines. It is home to a number of tribes – primitive and nomadic.

I was working on an education project and naturally had to visit schools in the region. The experience has left me petrified…… this is why

  • Children in class 4 and 5 cannot get the right answer to questions like 1000/10. I got answers like 1, 10, 100 and 1000……
  • 3/10 children aged 11 years cannot read at all, most of the rest are not the least bit fluent.
  • Children in class 6 cannot draw even the outline of the India map nor place Maharashtra on it. I was told by a cheeky child “that was taught in class 5, now we are in class 6”
  • The teacher for class 5 cannot do a simple multiplication – 262*50 = 1310 he says with utmost confidence.
  • Schools do not have compounds, blackboards, teaching material, teachers, dhurries for children to sit on, drinking water or toilets….
  • Teachers come to class for 5 ½ hours, spout out some drivel out of the text books, yell at and beat the children in case they are mischievous and go off on their tasks. in one village I saw that the secondary school teachers finish their ‘work’ by 11030 in the morning after starting only at 0645. They get paid around Rs.10k per month for this. The children still cannot read and write.

When asked what ails the education system, some teachers actually said ‘poor attitude of the teachers’ as if it were an externally imposed difficulty. It is interesting to note that by the time a child is in Grade V, (s)he has gone through over 5000 hours of formal ‘schooling’ (200 days a year, 6 hours a day for 5 years)…

Is it any wonder that 56 years after independence our country is in this state? No action can be taken against the unionised and politically active teachers. After all once the ‘work’ is finished, the teacher has all the time in the world to get involved in politics.

The Ghost of Macaulay must be having a great laugh!

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