I saw at least four school buses of different schools go by as I stood on the terrace, sipping tea in kotdwar. Schooling and tuition classes are the only business here.
The oldest school is the one I am an alumni of – “St. Joseph’s convent school”, and it still is the topmost school. But over two decades many more schools have come up, following either ICSE or CBSE boards. There is a huge demand for schools admission in this area in this area and the reason is the continuous influx of young people from adjoining hills to this place to educate their young kids and to meet this overgrowing demand new schools are coming up.
My niece’s son goes to St. Joseph’s too in lower kindergarten, and I was shocked to hear that he had to take exams, my parent’s tenants daughters are just in grade one and two and they go to tuition classes after school, I wonder if kids have any time for themselves, tuition classes are just an extension of academic hours and leaves kids with no time to nap and play and laze around.
There are some government schools – I saw a primary wing( which was freshly painted in pink and blue) , a junior high school and a senior secondary school. These are for poor kids, anyone who has a decent income packs off their kids to private schools. The salaries of government school teachers though are much better compared to private school teachers, so people who teach in government schools, too send their kids to private schools.
But after schooling there are limited options in the town, kids have to go out, to pursue professional courses if their parent’s have the financial means otherwise they keep trying their luck for a government job which seems to be a popular option for undergrad kids here.
Education is something everyone is focused on here, and a good job the ultimate aim of life. Some kids do make it, they go to pursue good careers, in private or public sector, but I wonder what happens to the majority, what do they end up doing?
I see huge potential for skill development institutes here, but first the mindset of the people have to change, knowledge which helps us live and earn a living has to be respected, and should be given more importance and emphasis than just earning degrees. These skill development institutes can churn out the talent which meets the demand of skill sets that is required in the industry. I live in Gurgaon and there is an immense shortage of skilled professionals like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, good sales people, and even trained nannies, on the other hand there is immense unemployment in towns like Kotdwar. Certainly their is a mismatch somewhere …..
Right now though what I see in this small town Kotdwar is – everyone studying, books in hand, eyes on some dream job – government job preferably, and it is not a very good situation.
Education has to change, to make the lives of kids more enjoyable rather than one endless quest for a job. Where learning is not the ability to produce the best possible answers which teachers approve of.