Private schools are here to stay

A few months back, a friend got in touch with me saying that her maid was not happy with her son’s school and wanted to explore alternatives. My friend wanted my help to identify some schools in the neighbourhood where her maid’s son could get better quality education. She explained to me that the current school did not have enough teachers and every day the children would have many ‘free periods’ and not enough studies. The maid was not at all happy and wanted a better school for her son – and this time she was doing some research.

For me, this is a real life example that proves something that many of us would intuitively conclude – parents, across income segments, realize the importance of education. Parents, across income segments demand accountability and will not think twice before moving their child to a better school. Parents want their children to do better than themselves, to prosper in life and live a life on their own terms. And without good education, options become very limited.

Private schools operating in the affordable space face this moment of truth every day. It does not matter whether the parents of children studying in these affordable schools are themselves literate or not. They have their own surrogates to check whether the school is doing a good job. Can the child read the English newspaper? Can he talk in English? Can she go to the local kirana shop and carry out simple money transactions? What is the level of confidence?

It is also heartening to see so many private schools step up to the challenge. More schools are

embracing technology. More schools are worried about teacher quality and are actively thinking of retention strategies. They are investing in better infrastructure and are actively looking at solutions that can give them a competitive edge. They proudly splash the pictures of the top rankers everywhere to show how good the teaching standards are. All this to make sure that the little child continues to study in the school.

Not that everything is right. Emphasis continues to be on teaching than learning. And learning is through rote. One sometimes wonders how much this crammed ‘knowledge’ and emphasis on marks would help the child when he or she grows up and enters the workforce.

But there is no denying that there is this very evident tide that is helping all boats rise. With the number of solution providers looking at solving the education issues, the access to global best practices on your tablet through the internet, the sprouting of play-way and other interactive methods of learning, kids today are getting lavish attention as compared to kids even a generation ago.

We at Varthana are privileged to be here at this place and time to be able to make a positive impact. As we embark on our journey of transforming affordable education we pledge all our resources, networks, contacts, relationships, creativity, passion and zeal to make a difference in the lives of millions of children who study in these private schools so that they can get the most from life – fun, opportunities, dignity, ability to contribute – and help eradicate poverty forever.

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