The 1250 plus Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) or Central Schools spread across India have been receiving a lot of attention and admiration for being the model government run schools. This attention has doubled after 2015 as students of these schools feature regularly in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s student-oriented events and town halls like pariksha pe charcha (one of the most publicized and popular engagements of the PM with student community in recent years). Before this, these schools, were a necessary reference in all discussions around the movement for Right to Education, passage of RTE Act, 2009 and thereafter while monitoring its implementation.
These schools have been established as per the standard norms and central funding; therefore, the infrastructure including recruitment of qualified teachers and in recent years deployment of digital technologies, is one of the best in the country. But beyond all this, are these really the best model schools for children?
KVs were primarily established to cater to the needs of the children of central government employees including armed and central paramilitary and police personnel. With time, other categories of students have also been added and now these schools are more diverse and in fact the living laboratory of “ek Bharat shresht Bharat’.
However, on ground, the story of these schools is not that admiring. Like a national trend with all forms of government schools, these schools, with practically no fees, are not the schools of choice for officers to send their own children. These school may be resourced and always under spotlight of higher-ups but in absence of a direct stake of officer class, the ground situation is not rosy for lakhs of children studying in them.
Being in a way under the direct control of the Ministry of Education and CBSE rules and regulations, these schools must have been the frontline first schools to implement reforms aimed at easing life of children. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. The pupil to teacher PTR) ratio in most of these schools continues to be beyond the norm. The weight of school bags in comparison to progressive private schools is more than the desired measure.
NCERT, which has been priding itself with one of the most innovative academic body on the planet, has miserably failed to support children. It doesn’t take a rocket science to notice that bulky textbooks can be divided in two-three small books and made easy for children to carry a book at a time to help lessen their shoulder stress. The KVS, which lets in every vendor in to sell, doesn’t see need of a classroom cabinet where some notebooks or books can be rested overnight as is an established practice in good schools world over.
KVS, some years back, in a standard practice engaged a reputed design institute to design its uniform. And the current uniform was prescribed. This uniform especially the summer uniform is overwhelmingly made from polyester and viscose. A layman or man on the street would tell that climate change isn’t a subject of arm chair discussion anymore. It is being felt on streets, homes, fields, mountains everywhere. As said above, these schools have become the lamp posts of the official showcase and as such the house dress that was for a weekend or a sports meet is now a dress for alternate days. Do these children have an agency to voice how uncomfortable they are in these ‘thermals’?
Examinations have been signaled out by consensus and expert opinion as a reason for dismal state of school education in this country and all people are putting their heads together to make them assessments than exams but the primacy of examination as such has not gone out of the KVS culture despite so much talk around it. Modi Government may have done away with the nuisance of getting documents attested in the country, but these schools still insist on a medical certificate if you missed a class test to a simple fever or flu. No self-declarations here. The parents have to unethically resort to pay the neighborhood physician a fee and make him attest the leave.
As a fully qualified teacher compliant organization, the teachers of the organization must have been the leaders in national FLN mission, but if informal insights are to be believed, these teachers don’t feel responsible or titillated to take the lead. Their agency is missing for a lot of time and a culture of playing a second fiddle has left them demotivated. As a result, from PTM to training most teachers of this organization do it for paper.
Now, if the Government is waiting for an education revolution, it needs to equip its lab (KVS) by people centric empowerment and unleash its potential. KVs can really become a model not for India but the whole world!