Should we work to save government schools or should we work to improve and strengthen them? – this is the dilemma we face every single day.
Government schools, despite the host of facilities provided by the State, are losing the popularity race to private schools. Complaining about the lack of focus on English education and inadequate facilities in government schools, parents are turning their backs on these schools and seeking private schools for their children instead. If this state of affairs continues, it would become a challenge to keep the government schools alive. Currently, two schools in the Dommasandra cluster, where we are working, are on the brink of shutting down for lack of students.
This imminent crisis was central to numerous discussions among teachers and Jeevadhaare* Committee members in the Dommasandra cluster. How could we possibly deal with this problem, they wondered? Several brainstorming sessions later, what emerged was the Enrolment Drive for all the government schools in the cluster.
The Enrolment Drive was launched earlier this month in Dommasandra as an initiative of Jeevadhare. Mantra4Change has been working to make the initiative a success with the active cooperation of the teachers and SDMC members. We drew up a battle plan for effective implementation of the Enrolment Drive. We made a list of all the advantages offered by the government schools in Dommasandra, got them printed on banners and pamphlets, and put them up/distributed them so that the message reached all the parents and other stakeholders.
We also plan to use street plays to convey the message to parents in an impactful manner. They would also be made aware of all the work being done by other organisations and NGOs to raise the standard of education in Dommasandra’s government schools.
In a heartening display of the community involvement that we have been working hard to inculcate in the Cluster, all the pamphlets and banners that we needed for the drive were printed entirely with community support. We are delighted with all the encouragement from the teachers, SDMC members, and other stakeholders in education, and we feel charged up to make the enrolment drive a huge success.
It dawned on us that this was among the rare instances when the entire community has come together to be actively involved in an enrolment drive for government schools. Aggressive enrolment drives for private schools are common but you do not often see banners and pamphlets advocating government schools. As we embark on our project that is being seen as path-breaking in several ways, we are filled with hope. We are hopeful of changing people’s negative perceptions about government schools as we make them realise how truly valuable these schools could be.
* Jeevadhaare is a voluntary committee of system leaders in the cluster such as teachers, HMs, Cluster Resource Person and the School Development and Management Committee (SDMC) members.
By Lingaraju M.B., Cluster Transformation Lead at Mantra4Change