NOT FOR PROFIT EDUCATION
The majority of schools in India are run by private organizations and are for profit. Government schools were established to provide free education, but unfortunately, the majority of them are poorly run, lack basic infrastructure, are poorly attended, lack staff and simply exist on paper. This is sad, because government schools, with the financial resources of the government behind them, could have become portals of learning that equalizes rural India with their urban counterparts and the poor with the rich. But alas, this is not so.
Several non-governmental organizations – NGOs – have ventured into this space to fill the void that has been created by the non-performing government schools. Svatantra is one of them. them.
Providing education for profit is a very lucrative business in urban India. The pressure of a growing population means that there is a never ending demand for good schools, starting from kindergarten to junior college and beyond. New schools have sprung up all over urban India and school managements are opening new schools at a rapid pace. These schools follow a typical pattern. Admission is restricted to children from affluent families by using exorbitant schools fees as a filter. Teachers are hired who have the requisite degrees for teaching but without ensuring if they have the right attitudes and commitment towards education in general and students in particular. Much of the teaching is by rote with the use of examinations and tests as a means to test the “learning” of the child. Outside “coaching” is accepted as a standard means of enhancing the learning provided by these schools. Sports and extracurricular involvement in arts, social-service or cultural activities are merely tolerated, never encouraged.
THE BENEFITS OF NOT FOR PROFIT EDUCATION
In short, those providing education for a profit in India run “factories’ of learning where a child who enters at the tender age of say, 5 years, is graduated by the system, often as a cynical teenager with very little cultural connection with the rest of India and with blunted native talents, whatever they may be.
NGOs like Svatantra recognize that the biggest need for schools is in rural India, especially within poorer communities. Financial gains are not our goal. Unified, wholesome education, that combines the teaching of math, languages and the basic sciences with that of ethical values, morality, good citizenship, our cultural roots, is what we strive for.
Our first Not for Profit Education, Vidyadaan school, is an example of our focus. The school is entirely free for students. And they get a set of new uniforms and the necessary text and note books from the school for no charge. The parents of children are counselled about the importance of education to ensure that the children have a conducive environment at their homes. Teachers are selected and trained from within the community so that they understand the backgrounds and home environments of the children. Training imparts the teachers with advanced techniques and tools to use with the children. There is a strong emphasis on growing the native talents of children by providing them with a wide set of opportunities to explore during their years in school.
Finally, and the most important differentiation perhaps, is that the school aspires to mould the children into productive Indian citizens, aware of her roots, culture, strengths and weaknesses, and dedicated to improving the lot of their local communities. In one generation alone, we should be able to see the results of the work we are now engaged in.
Vidyadaan is the first step of a long journey towards the creation of a literate rural India. Not for Profit Education is our mantra. Several more schools, in different parts of India are on the roadmap and need financial support to become a reality. We are reaching out to all those who share in this dream to come and help us make this a reality. Please get in touch if you believe that you would like to be part of this dream.