Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why low-income private schools are failing?

I have announced to my students and their parents about my departure. Leaving behind kids and their hopeful parents is certainly difficult for me. But recently, this turned out into a classic ethical dilemma.

Few parents called me to ask if they can pull the child out from the school. These parents can afford a little better private school due to their good financial situations. Since I am leaving as well, they would rather take the child to a "better" school. The definition of better is - good buildings, good toilets, well-dressed teachers and may be a little better education.

Teach for India holds MoU with each school of staying with a class for at least 6 years. Now, I tried to ensure few parents about the quality of teachers a child will get because of presence of Teach for India. They reply back by saying that it is because of my teaching that their child has been able to get admission to the new school. They are glad that I came and they are happy that child is now getting into what he deserved. I put forward few arguments that a good teacher is sufficient infrastructure in herself. But I myself am leaving the school so I lose that ground.

I really could not argue their motivation to see their child in a better school. Besides, parents could see how even low-income private school is so much profit driven to never re-invest back into the school. Kids deserve better education, better facilities and better infrastructure. By my presence, only one aspect was ensured. And
since I am no authority mandating other aspects in the school, I cannot get this done. By just being a teacher, I cannot force principal to comply to maintain certain standards.

I recall in our last week end of year summit, what Shaheen Mistri, our CEO, told us. Teach for India as an organization cannot send teachers to each classroom having an educational inequity. But by giving us an experience at such a grass root level, it builds a base of strong alumni, who stand up against this at a higher level of impact and mandate schools to give each child a Right to Education the way he deserves and - NOT JUST ON PAPERS.

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