Sunday, 7 August 2016

FROM CLASSROOM TO BOARD ROOM OF A KENDRIYA VIDYALAYA

Inside Out

‘As an education officer, you are the best counsel for the Chairman. Like the King's Hand from the Game of Thrones.' 
I was damn happy…. Lord Eddard Stark was my favourite character.  
When  I became a commissioned officer in the Education branch in the Indian Air Force, I realized I had got a reserved seat in every meeting, public gathering and social functions at KVs.  I felt it was time to repay back the institution that had made me.

As a young school student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, the closest possible association with The Chairman and the VMC (Vidyalaya Management Committee) was  that it was some friend’s mother or father coming to school to meet Principal and that we had to be quietly studying in the classrooms or playing in the playground. After leaving school, I used to hear mother saying how the HM and Principal were annoyed with the primary section not behaving during the Chairman’s visit.  

 I studied hard: my duties and responsibilities, did a lot of homework before going to meetings, briefed Chairmen about everything that could possibly be discussed in the meetings. For those of us, who haven’t studied in KVs, these schools come under MHRD and are specially run for wards of transferable government departments, such as Armed Forces, BSF, Railways, Ordinance, Steel Plants, DRDO, AIR, DD, Embassies and so on. Hence the Chairman is generally the senior most officer of the sponsoring agency, say, for instance, in case of army- GOC (General officer commanding), air force-AOC (Air officer commanding) and so on. This is generally so because it assists the Principals, as the schools are built on defense land, admissions are ensured on top priority to the wards of their troops. My initial years of service, I got opportunities to interact with Principals, Educational Administrators of many competitive KVs of Bangalore region, Hyderabad region and Delhi. I could closely observe their different styles of leadership, views on daily administrative matters and started gaining through their experiences. I too started promptly advising the Chairmen with whom I worked about matters of academic, administrative and general interest.

 By the end, I had started to realize how subjective this whole business of educational administration had become. Although books have everything laid out clearly, every Chairman decided his own terms and the maximum that we contributed to the whole process of education was by attending annual functions and frequent meetings, that’s all. Nobody ever read anything like, Kothari Commission, Three- language formula, NPE, NCF, CCE or even the most elementary-Education Code for KV Sangathan. What guided the Chairmen’s decisions, generally was, we did it like this, in our schools!  I had suddenly started enjoying this feeling of being an Insider till recently.

Now, no more in service but being a parent and an educator, I volunteered to be a Parent Representative in the VMC of my daughter’s KV. Gradually, my excitement bubble started losing the air. The meetings became a routine matter, with hardly anyone, except the Principal, taking any interest in the growth of the institution. Members keep coming late, some don’t come, and some don’t contribute anything to decision-making…..
I understood how all this administration is a wasted effort. To top it all, the recent most addition is the serious comments on how this system of Assessments is leading to mass failures, how students are not focused , how they can’t talk in English, how they don’t excel n reach IITs because they are not failed till eighth, on one hand and then also complain about the increasing competition and privatization.
I simply don’t understand who gives us the right to make generic comments without even knowing what and where we are talking about? Is it so difficult to understand that such meetings are not the forum for expressing our personal opinions but to give decisions? Chairmen don’t know the full forms of VVN (Vidyalaya Vikas Nidhi), forget about their financial decision-making powers. At the higher echelons of power, why is it so that we conveniently forget our duties and demand 100% from everyone else!

Two not so recent newspaper reports I would like to quote here. One about an erstwhile Indian Defense Minister (Manohar Parrikar) being snubbed by his colleagues in Parliament and journalists about his views on criticizing one’s own country.  The other one, about the 76 years old Kenyan sportsperson and philanthropist : KIP KEINO who was awarded the trophy of Olympic Laurel for his dedicated efforts in educating and giving shelter to young, homeless Kenyan children.
My reason to bring out these two snippets is to put all these situations in the same perspective- the ignorant pompous, highly educated and decorated Chairmen, who feel their job is to only comment on the colour and content of ppt slides, on one side, and the modestly educated sportsman cum philanthropist who thinks he can contribute and the responsible Minister who without any criticism of his predecessors accepts his poverty and wants to make a difference. 
This brings me to one more pertinent issue, is it important to distinguish between bureaucrats and educational administrators? Are the bureaucrats who have also grown up through the same education system insensitive towards the administrative issues related to the complete classroom experience?
Lord Eddard was a very good knight and a warrior but finally even he could not win against the most calculative character of the drama:Queen Cersei. Similarly, I feel the educators are not able to perform because they are not equipped enough to handle school governance along with education.
 There is a need to get some insiders out of their comfort zones and actually understand what it really takes to get all the stakeholders (teachers, parents, students and administrators) of school administration inside the system.
How I wish I could get back inside the classroom till the VMC takes place again.  
I decide to be an outsider till then .


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