I’m quite amused that Sri Sri Ravishankar thinks that privatisation of education can save our country from the Maoists (and, by extension of the logic, from other such ‘evils’).
I have taught in both government-aided institutions (a school first, followed by a college) and in a public school which caters to the children of the ‘elite.’ [The word ‘elite’ may need some qualification, given the qualities displayed by the children in the school. Elitism today seems to be merely a matter of economic status, with normal exceptions.] My experience tells me that the students of the government-aided schools were more interested in gaining knowledge and making use of the facilities available to them. They revealed a sense of responsibility about improving their lot. Here, again, an explanation may be called for. I taught in government-aided institutions, and not government institutions. Both the school and the college I taught at were run by Catholic managements. The situation in a typical government educational institution can seldom be compared with the standards maintained by the so-called ‘aided’ institutions. [This is by no means an endorsement of the policies of the aided-schools. I wouldn’t have left my lecturer’s job if I could accept their policies.]
Why do the government schools fail miserably in producing reasonably good results?
I have always been of the opinion that the government-run institutions in India tend to perform pathetically, because the very Indian mindset ensures such performance. The Indian mindset is this: only I and my family are important and the others are there to be exploited for the welfare of me and my family. Let me add that in spite of correcting the grammatical error in a phrase like I and Mr Manmohan by telling the students that the first-person-pronoun should take the last place in a list of nouns or pronouns, Indian students invariably write I or me first. That’s a reflection of the egocentrism of the typical Indian.
This egocentrism is most obvious in a public school that caters to the children of the so-called elite. You won’t find more self-centred people elsewhere. Even the teachers are their servants. They speak of certain teachers as cooperative and others as non-cooperative. Being cooperative means pandering to their egos. I haven’t seen as much lack of character in young students in any society of people as I have witnessed in a public school meant for the so-called elite!
Coming back to Sri Sri Ravishankar’s comment, which his followers explained away by mentioning the 185 free schools run by them in Naxal-affected areas, I can only say that what can actually save the education system in India is a set of teachers with some convictions. Some convictions. Let them be even religious. Even economic. Even political. But not egocentric. Not the kind of thinking that reflects a proverb in my language (Malayalam): “Timbre in the forest, an elephant on hire, loot, man, loot.”
Everything is for loot, according to the Indian mindset. That’s what I have learnt up to now. Can Ravishankar or any godman or even God Himself change that mindset?
Read the editorial of The Hindu on Ravishankar: The Art of Schooling