Feb 2, 2008


This Republic day I had a chance to visit two schools.

The first one was a school upper middle class children go to. I sat through an extended assembly. This school had a nice prayer - a poem by Tagore - which could be neutral in terms of religion and could actually also satisfy the atheists if a few lines were dropped. The Pledge, news for the day, thought for the day, the national anthem all brought me back memories of school days. I don't remember ever enjoying the assembly, nor do I remember ever learning anything from it. The kids often speak in a hyper speed, highly nasal voice and half the words are swallowed by the amplifier anyway. Things didn't seemed to have changed much. Except may be the parents with their high tech camera and video equipment capturing that prize winning moment.

The other one was a government school in one of the outskirts of Bangalore. A bunch of us brought some shoes for the kids. This school just a few miles away had seven grades with four teachers and five classrooms - there was no playground and the building was a bit old. It was clear they got their news from kannada movies. There were no parents hanging about - the children dispersed merrily walking home by themselves. [There was the old man who came and promptly took all the empty cartons - talk of entrepreneurship.] There were a couple of computers though I wondered if the kids were really exposed to them.

But at the end of the day - one thing struck me - there wasn't any difference in the brightness in the children's eyes.

February 02, 2008