Education Equity and Chain Reaction
Quality education is not just the passing on of knowledge. It is a very intricate and complex aspect of the student’s life and future. The ability to learn new things cannot be imbibed by teachers who just provide students with the information from curriculum. It needs someone who can inspire and persevere. Teaching, is leadership.
According to various reports, India is one of the most backward countries in terms of quality education being provided to its students. Most of them are not at their grade level. Some unfortunate factors that determine the quality of education and the number opportunities that a child receives are based on its place of birth, caste, sub-geography (Urban or Rural) and gender. The disappointing thing about this is that it is just a chance. There is no real logic in giving someone the extra facility for having been a biological accident in a different place. If we cannot overcome this and leverage our demographic in ushering the society into an empowered place then the entire system will start collapsing!
Once again, we interacted with the ‘educated’ kids who never cease to amaze me. As we sat down in groups to discuss the integration of curriculum and values, she pointed out like a corporate trainer that we must all talk one at a time and be brief lest intrude into someone else’s time space. Wow! She went on to explain how she stopped littering because of what she learnt in class and how one of her friends would always miss classes. “My friend always fell ill because of drinking the dirty water near our house. They started focussing on her health more than education. One day in science class we learned that one of the causes for water pollution is throwing garbage in water bodies and since then I stopped littering. Because I want my friend and all children to come to school.”
It is one thing to say that I have been educated but a completely different thing to live it. These kids not only accepted the inequity in their education, but also grabbed the opportunity of being given great teachers (leaders rather) and overcame every single obstacle in their pursuit for a better life. Be it academic excellence, exposure or values and mindsets, they mastered it all. Every ounce of credit goes to the transformational teacher that these kids were provided with. All of us can blame various things for the lack of quality education, from government to school buses being late, but it takes a true committed teacher to challenge these, attain excellence and prove to the world that it is possible. It all boils down to having one thing, an excellent teacher. One teacher influencing few students who then go on to influence few friends and family members who collectively go on to influence a community which then grows into a society and then the entire nation. It is a chain reaction that just has to be initiated.
I think I now understand more than ever, the connection between the three aspects of education viz., Academic excellence, exposure & access and values & mindsets. I will enable my kids, provide them the equity of opportunities, empower them with the right mindsets and values and then assist them in choosing their life paths. But the freedom of making a choice, is not mine. I will only give them the options and condition them to understand right from wrong, but the actual responsibility of finding their calling will always remain theirs. It is not for me to influence them in that aspect. Our past and present tell us one thing, knowledge without wisdom is useless and wisdom without knowledge is stupidity! All I want to do, is create a sustainable chain reaction through educational equity.