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Unending Views And Counter Views On Education System For Children – OpEd


For the last several decades, there have been animated debates and discussions all over the world on what should be the ideal and best method of inculcating education and forward looking spirit, in the young children up to the age of fifteen years, which is considered as the formative years of one’s life.

Alternate strategies and methods have been evolved and implemented in different countries and still there is no conclusive evidence as to which of the alternate method would be appropriate in tune with the changing conditions in the society at present and in future.

What age children should be sent to school?

In  Singapore and other countries, children are admitted in class  I only at the age of six. In India, children get into class I at the age of five. There is no evidence in India that admitting students in class I at the age of five has done any harm to them. Then, why retain the age of 6 as admissible age for class I in several countries?

There are several parents all over the world who send  little babies in the age of two and three to  play  schools.   In India, babies are  admitted in lower kinder garden class at the age of three. In countries like Singapore and others, at the age  of four,  children are  admitted in  the lower  kinder garden class.

To this extent,  the little children spend less time with the  parents and elders in the family. A number of activists  and psychologists advocate that children must be with the parents full time at least  up to the age of five, which is required to build  proper bondage and development of affinity  with the parents  life long.

Is skill oriented education for children appropriate?

In India and some other countries, it is advocated (and practiced in some places) that children should be inculcated with skills at very young age and therefore, half  the school hours must be spent in general education  and balance school hours should be spent in teaching skills in various fields.

This  practice is severely opposed by section of activists, as  “a strategy” to deny the students general education, which would help in building character and promoting thought process.

Should children live with teacher?

In ancient India, young children were sent to live with teachers for  developing good habits and acquiring knowledge.

This practice has practically gone away now but some people even now insist that it was a desirable practice.

Should students be punished?

In recent times, it is advocated that teachers should never punish the young children by using harsh language or physically  beating them.

However, some people argue that teachers should have the liberty to punish the children in schools, if warranted, to discipline them  and  make them competitive. Such advocates quote “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

Should students be given home work?

Another  much discussed practice is providing home work to children less than ten years of age, by the school teachers. Some support this practice, since it helps the students to study and find solutions for the questions at leisure.

Those who oppose this practice say that when home work is given, children are left with little play time in home  and could become workaholic.

Should students be asked to write tests?

Recently, in India, Government of India has directed that all school children studying in class 5 and 8 should be asked to write board exams compulsorily.  It is clarified by the government that no student would be failed irrespective of the performance in the exam. 

There appear to be equal number of supporters and opponents for this directive by the Government in India.

Those who accept this view say  that in  today’s scenario, the students have to be mentally prepared for competitive conditions in the life ahead. Such mental make up can be well inculcated only in the formative age group. Further, the board exam gives an opportunity to the parents and students to know where the students stand. The teachers will also be exposed, if they would not be teaching the students adequately well. This board exam will also enable the educational institutions under government and private bodies to identify the deficiencies  in the class rooms and take corrective measures.

However, those who oppose are of the view that compelling such young children to write exams would highly stress them mentally and even terrify them and school dropouts may increase.

It is also argued that forcing the children to write exams and enter into competition will demoralize the children who do not fair well. Section of activists  and educational experts say that when children would get demoralized, it would create inferiority complex among children in the formative age group , which would psychologically affect their mental make up life long.

Does home tuition do good for children?

Finally, there is  recent practice of several parents not sending their children to the schools at all up to the age of 15 and provide them home tuition. The argument in favour of this practice is that  such children undergoing home tuition will have time to involve themselves in activities and pursuits where they  emotionally and mentally develop  taste such as playing sports or in arts such as  music, dance etc. and provide them opportunities  to “enjoy life” .

However, this practice is opposed by the protestors, who argue that every individual is essentially “a social animal”. The denial of the company of the fellow students may make the students to become introverts and create a mental condition in their life, where they would not be able to “mingle with the crowd”.

Unending debate

Views for and against with regard to appropriate educational system for children have been going on for long time.

No one can conclusively say today as to which system is right or which is wrong. 

The debate on the above lines would  continue to evoke interest  all over the world but it is unlikely to be conclusive at any time soon.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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