Friday, May 27, 2022
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Still, Faded Chalk On Blackboards

We see them as pits of despair, but, as this book shows, government schools and their unjustly derided teachers give both shelter and alphabet to millions

Still, Faded Chalk On Blackboards
Still, Faded Chalk On Blackboards Still, Faded Chalk On Blackboards

On March 14, a national daily reported that as the cor­o­­­navirus pandemic keeps students away from school, 3.75 lakh children registered with 33,115 anganwadis in Kerala will get material for their mid-day meals delivered at home. It bro­ught to mind an article in an Ame­­rican higher educ­ation magazine, of college shutdown due to the pandemic forcing poor and minority stude­nts to lose valuable academic experience, as well as hot meals and a shelter. The closure have literally thrown them out on the streets.

S. Giridhar’s Ordinary People, Extraordinary Teachers is a tim­ely reminder of what government schools mean to the vast majority of Indian children. For a nation whose urban middle and upper-­middle class increasingly identify K-12 education with private institutions, what is forgotten is that education is not just a venue of liberal humanist idealism—the widening of emotional, intellectual and ethical horizons. For the poor and marginalised, it is very often the ticket to a meal and a bed to sleep on. And in no country can this responsibility be carried out by private instituti­ons. They are, as Giridhar says, the lifeline of 60 per cent our children.

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