The age old debate regarding private schools and public schools in India has been raging on since quite some time. Be it in terms of quality v quantity debate or discussion about the funding of schools in the country, much has been said and discussed about the private as well as public schools in the country. Majority of such debates list down the advantages and disadvantages or pit the pros and cons of each category of schools against each other. However, what these debates have failed to do is to suggest or devise solutions through which the advantages or pros of one category of schools can be applied to the other to improve the level of school education in India.
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As the popular adage goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest link and we are looking to bring out real change and actionable reforms in India’s education sector, it is natural to target public schools. Below, we shall discuss some of the several lessons that public schools in India can take up to improve quality of education being imparted to the students.
The key advantage that private schools and even government aided schools in India have is of infrastructure. Private schools invest a lot of capital in development of quality educational infrastructure which is not only limited to classrooms but covers several other facilities that are required for physical and mental development of the students. Better facilities not only aid teachers in imparting quality education but also inspire students to perform to their best.
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However, infrastructure seems to be last thing on mind when it comes to government schools. Many public schools even lack basic facilities like classrooms and even electricity, which acts as a major hindrance for both students as well as teachers. Although things are changing on this front with government imposing education cess of 3% and using those funds to equip government schools with better facilities; the pace at which this is happening is painfully slow. Government needs to change its focus from mere quantity and also start focusing upon the quality of education being imparted to the students in public schools.
Pedagogy is defined as the method or practice of teaching an academic subject or a theoretical concept. When it comes to teaching pedagogy, teachers of private schools are deeply invested in the performance of students and therefore try innovative and effective teaching techniques. These techniques are not only limited to the syllabus and notes prescribed through NCERT text books or other school board text books covers different concepts from the core. This helps students in developing a deeper conceptual understanding and leads to long term reward for them.
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In recent times, there has been a clear shift in the focus when it comes teaching pedagogy of government schools as well. Many teachers and educators have evolved ground-breaking teaching techniques even with the limited resources available to them. However, such cases are an exception. Government needs to reward and promote such thinking among teachers and educators at a policy level. Moreover, providing performance based incentives to teachers may also go a long way in inspiring teachers to go out of their way to ensure that students are provided education and knowledge instead of just notes.
Another important aspect that has set private schools apart from the public ones has been their focus on the development of skills of the students. In fact, in today’s day and world, almost everyone has bookish education and knowledge, what they really lack are the skills that are required to implement the same in practical day-to-day life. Therefore, skill development among students at school level has been one of the primary points of contention when it comes to education in private schools.
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Right from the young age of 10 years, private schools lay prime focus upon not only syllabus based academic studies but also promote and propagate development of skill-set of students through a variety of extra-curricular activities. Skills developed at such a young age, be it of dramatics or public speaking; go a long way in aiding and assisting students in their future academic life as well as professional career.
With the implementation of ‘Right to Education’, government schools or public schools have become the universal centres for education in India. While many consider it to be a good thing, it does present the problem of teacher to pupil ratio in the class. To ensure quality education, the ideal teacher to pupil ratio must be maintained but contrary to this government schools do not adhere to this recommendation.
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In government schools where teacher-student ratio is skewed and batch sizes larger, teachers are unable to grant their undivided attention leading to poor quality of teaching and education in general. Therefore, it is pivotal that government schools must set aside some norms to ensure that respectable student-teacher ratio is maintained to ensure quality education in public schools.
Adoption by private schools
Last but not the least, one of the sure shot way of enhancing the quality of school-level education in the country is through adopting of public school by private schools. This way, private schools will be able to help public or governmental schools to overcome all the major hurdles that lie in their path in terms of providing quality education to the students. The direct involvement in management and administration of the government schools by the private players will also go a long way helping the latter to implement the successful efforts of private schools.
While there is considerable amount of gap between public and private schools in India, it is not the real problem for us. The problem lies in the fact that this gap is expanding at an alarming rate which may cause some serious concerns in future. One of the best and most viable ways in which we can not only bridge this gap but also improve the overall school education in the country is through the collaboration of both these bodies.