A visit to the GLPS school in Vardapura and I was happy that I did not turn my back on Government schools. At a time when most of us have succumbed to the onslaught of private school education with little or no resistance citing various reasons, this school makes a case in point.
Almost a year ago over 30 students, left GLPS to join its better placed counterpart – an English medium private school. To the parents of these kids the new school seemed well poised to deliver. After all, the government school had failed them and their children on many counts, is what they felt. A 25 percent reservation in private schools as per the RTE act, it seems only strengthened their belief further.
However, within few months of joining the private school, there seemed to be a trend reversal. The same parents wanted to enrol their kids back at the government school. In the days to follow, over 30 children who had joined the private school, were back at GLPS.
This piqued my curiosity and like how a typical human mind works in cases like this, there were more questions and doubts rather than belief and answers. Does this mean that government schools work and that the teachers are doing their job or is it the low fee structure, free food that has lured the parents in bringing their kids back to government school. Many such questions clouded my mind and a visit to the school and finding out for myself seemed to be the most right and logical thing to do.
The time spent at GLPS, speaking to teachers, parents and children reinforced my faith in the public/government school system. Quality of teaching – is what brought these kids back to GLPS, a common sentiment shared by the kids, parents and the teachers too. I decided to experience that myself apart from speaking to various stakeholders.
It did not take me long to figure that out. There was clear evidence of strong pedagogic knowledge and effective use of teaching and learning material to aid activity based learning – all of it tied together by the strong leadership of the school Head Master.
The teachers held sound understanding of the theory behind pedagogic practice. Use of TLM in the form of a Math Kit provided by Akshara Foundation enabled joyful learning. They loved the little extra help in the form of this well designed and scientific Math kit that helped them better explain Math concepts to children.
These kids loved to create their own groups (leading to effective peer learning) around the kit to come up with problems and solutions. All this facilitated by the class teacher who demonstrated great endurance to quality learning and openness unlearn and then learn the changing pedagogic practice irrespective of all challenges.
After spending many hours in the school I could say that despite the given constraints a Government School Does Work and that we should be honouring the government school teachers with a little extra help and the recognition that they deserve.
Someone rightly said – Education ought to be about lifting up, not weeding out. Government schools are for every child in the community. They are for providing every child a chance at an education. Cherry picking only the bright and brilliant is not the norm here. It’s therefore time that we as community render all support and initiative to make government schools the best they can be.
The story of GLPS xxx may just be one of dozens of other inspiring stories coming from government school. We can know those only when we get involved as an individual, a group, a community and nation as whole. After all, any society is only as good as its education system.
N.B. In no way through the views expressed in the write-up, I intend to talk or influence anyone out of attending private school. But I do want to talk you out of believing that government schools don’t work.