Does schooling matter?

Admission in any premier private school doesn’t necessarily guarantee children a bright future

Dr. Zubair Ahmad War

Does schooling matterRecently, one of the premier private schools of Valley conducted the admission process for nursery classes. Right from the day of form submission, the parents were worried, desperate and on their toes in order to seek admission for their wards. Amusingly, seeing the seriousness of the parents’ vis-à-vis the interview, it appeared as if their wards were to face the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) panel.

Interestingly, most of the children didn’t realise the gravity of the situation and were playfully ignoring the well articulated advises, tips and directions of their over-serious parents. Even some parents were questioning those toddlers whose interview was done to know the pattern of questions being posed in the interview. Finally, the results were declared and the lucky ones made their entry into the institute whereas most of them failed. Tragically, around 2.5 year old toddlers who “failed” were not only beaten but scolded by their parents for letting them down and in the process putting tremendous stress on these buds. The parents hurt the self-esteem and confidence of these children at the very tender age.

On the fateful day, as I was unaware of the results, my little cousin joyfully and cheerfully screamed with the news: “Do u know?  I have failed” The poor little girl even didn’t understand the meaning of failure. As I congratulated her, I could see her mother desperately wailing and loudly crying. “What will happen to her? Her career is ruined”. Somehow I mustered courage and tried to console the aggrieved mother, but all in vain. Her screams grew louder with every passing minute. “She has shattered our dreams”, she cried. I wondered. Within myself, I was thinking of the promising bud which was yet to blossom. But, ironically, written off at the tender age. As if the world came to an end at that institution in which she couldn’t get admission. Sensing her guilt by the mourning scene created by the mother, the depressed and cornered girl blushed and ultimately broke down. Such is the impact of these elite schools on our psyche. It speaks volumes about our infatuation towards the empty craze and elitism of such schools. In fact, such schools have merely become status symbols in our cosmetic society.

The million dollar question is: does schooling matter in shaping the career of a student? Can’t a child from government school or a modest school compete with a child of a premier private school?

Most of our elders studied in the government schools and reached the echelons of power and prestige by virtue of them. They had the minimum facilities, no coaching, and limited number of books and were off course without the asset of information technology. But, importantly they had the desire to learn and gave maximum output with minimum inputs. They even were lucky to have saintly and honest teachers who burnt their midnight oil for the sake of their pupils and ensured that even the weakest students learnt the lessons. They came prepared in the classes to deliver, and not just for time pass. But, now the situation is completely different and we can’t only blame the teachers.

What is the plight of our government schools presently? The teachers available there are mostly of best quality, highly qualified and have faced the tough competitive exams to reach there. However, some of the ReT (Rehber-e-Taleem) brigade of teachers engaged half heartedly by the government on a paltry salary is an exception and the government’s proposal of conducting a screening test of teachers is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the pupils of government schools hail from poor families, with poor educational background and such students are often disinterested to study. The qualified and competent teachers too lose their interest in teaching, hence spoiling the overall system. Further, the government schools are deficient in terms of infrastructure and lack accountability.

On the other hand, the situation in private schools is completely different. Infrastructure wise, there is no match to them. They do provide utmost care and comfort to the students in the form of spacious classrooms, large play grounds and there is always scope for extra-curricular activities in the form of cultural programs, debates, seminars, trekking events, summer camps etc. These facilities are provided by the private schools in lieu of exorbitant fees, making it impossible for poor people to afford their expenses. There is also accountability and discipline in private schools. With respect to the core curriculum the private schools figure well above the government schools, whereas private schools sweep all the positions and ranks, the government schools even struggle to improve their passing percentage.

The question arises: do private schools carry a magic wand? Genetically, the phenotype/personality of a child depends on the genotype and the environment (P = G+E). Barring a few exceptions (God gifted children) the genotype of all children is almost the same whereas the environment in which they grow tremendously varies. The environment of a child includes the ‘parenting’ and the ‘schooling’. The learned and influential people including the officers, doctors and engineers enroll their children in these prominent private schools as only they can bear their expenses. The wards of these learned people get the best parenting. Not only do such parents personally teach their children at home, but also arrange tuition for them. When results are declared the credit goes to the prominent private schools where these children are officially enrolled.

Sadly, the common masses think that the private schools carry a magic wand by virtue of which students excel in studies and believe that the ‘admission per se’ would guarantee their children a bright future. That is the reason they feel handicapped and get apprehensive once they don’t get their wards admitted in such schools. Mere admission in “premier” private schools doesn’t guarantee children a secure future. By the dint of hard work, little guidance and plenty of passion, zest and zeal they can achieve flying colors, even outside them.

Unfortunately, the RTE Act-2009 which provides children in the age group of 6-14 years the right to free and compulsory education isn’t a fundamental right in Jammu and Kashmir. The central act if applied in the J&K can cure many ills in our elementary education. As per the act, private schools have to provide 25 percent reservation quota for the socially backward and economically weaker sections of the society, they are not allowed to conduct pre-admission tests or interviews that puts stress on the children and the act lays down quality standards for the schools and teachers.

There is no need to worry at this tender age, given the neck-to-neck competition faced by our students later in life in the higher education. Undue pessimism and disappointment at nursery level doesn’t augur well for those parents who want their wards to climb the long ladders of success and progress. At such a tender age it would be unwise to put such a tremendous pressure on these young minds by taunting them with the words like ‘failure’ and thereby damaging their self esteem.

Let us not pressurize these young minds and rather allow them to relax a bit. They have a long way to go. Truly, these are shining stars. Simply, they have to be handled with care.

Paradoxically, the competent government school teachers teach the students of elite private schools inside their money minting coaching centers. Can we have accountability, quality infrastructure, competent-cum-honest teachers, and serious-cum-intelligent students under one roof? Can we somehow club the good features of private and government schools? Can our legislators who often unsuccessfully talk of scrapping AFSPA and PSA do anything about the implementation of RTE Act in J&K.

Such questions demand answers.

Author is an alumnus of Saint Joseph’s School (SJS) Baramulla and SKUAST-K. He can be mailed at

Related posts