Lackadaisical attitude

EducationWorld November 06 | EducationWorld

Thanks for the special report ‘Dismaying teacher shortage in Indian academia’ (EW October). My son attends a ‘five-star’ school in Bangalore and in the past four months has had three new maths teachers. This high attrition has affected not only his learning outcomes but has also diluted his interest in maths. When I paid up the exorbitant annual tuition fee of Rs.1 lakh, I was promised that a highly-qualified and well-trained faculty will deliver a 21st century education to my child.

Well, the reality is far from this promise. The turnover of teachers is so high that now the school is hiring mediocre teachers to fill in. The result: student indiscipline and falling academic standards.

But in all this mess, what surprises me is the lackadaisical attitude of these high-profile school managements. They don’t seem to understand that it’s the quality of faculty that defines a school, not swimming pools and gyms.

Sharada Shetty

Unchecked and inaccurate

Your assertions in your postscript column (EW September) about The International School Bangalore are unchecked and inaccurate. We have a vast number of applicants for student and staff positions and we offer residential packages for staff, which include accommodation, meals, children’s education, plus the attractive salaries you mention. Teaching the IGCSE and IB curricula in a seven-day-a-week boarding context is very demanding but the rewards are great and Dr. K.P. Gopalkrishna’s and Dr. Bindu Hari’s educational vision is humane, generous, incredibly successful and crystal clear.

I would not have relocated from the UK with my wife and three small sons 15 months ago if that were not the case. I am very happy with my decision to join TISB: my children are studying in an excellent, happy and vibrant school, and I am among the finest group of colleagues I have ever worked with in my wide-ranging career, which includes teaching in five countries.

TISB’s results speak for themselves. With Rs.11 crore in university scholarship money gained by our 119 class XII students last year and placements in best universities worldwide, with a superb system of pastoral care and dedicated, highly trained teachers, TISB is in a very enviable position in international education in India.

It worries me to think that you are publishing unchecked assertions which are aimed to harm schools, their teachers and more wrongly, the children who go to them. I think the intention of your publication should be to inform the public accurately on educational matters.

Oh, and one other small fact to correct: I’m American, not English!

Dr. Mathew Sullivan
Principal, The International School Bangalore

It’s impossible for us to crosscheck our information since the TISB culture is never to return phone calls and/or letters. Perhaps you need to improve on your institutional life skills — Editor

Student lawlessness

I was aghast to read your cover story ‘Death of a professor: Fear and frustration in small-town India’s neglected colleges’ (EW October). Where is our country heading? The only answer to this question is “towards a state of total anarchy and lawlessness”. Whatever happened to the glorious Indian tradition of revering the teacher as a guru? Somewhere along the line we Indians seem to have forgotten our time-honoured traditions and culture. Students who should be in classrooms and studying are out on the streets participating in political demonstrations and riots, killing people, including their own professors.

EW is the only publication that has dedicated time and space to examine the ‘why’ of this increasing trend. I completely agree with you that such anarchy is the direct result of neglect of small-town colleges. It is also surprising to note that autonomous colleges get different amounts as grants from UGC and nobody seems to complain about this injustice. UGC should provide larger infrastructure grants to rural and small-town colleges, while encouraging those in the larger cities to raise their own funds through alumni networks and industry contacts.

In this context your news report ‘Reduced temperature’ about the Lyngdoh Committee’s recommendations to clean up student elections was instructive. They should be accepted and enforced in toto if law and order is to return to India’s campuses.

Suresh J.

Alarming trend

The postscript titled ‘Epicureanism epidemic’ (EW October) made interesting reading. How come that people who most opposed liberalisation are enjoying its sweetest fruits? The Union government has gone crazy spending Rs.250 crore on Embraer jet planes when millions of poor children don’t get one decent meal per day. But “politicians are politicians” and they will act according to their whims and fancies.

However, it is alarming to note that this trend of splurging public funds on private comforts has spread to academia. Professors and teachers are supposed to shape young people into the nation’s future leaders. If they themselves are corrupt, what kind of example are they setting for future generations? I dread to think what will happen if students nurtured by corrupt vice-chancellors such as Syeda Akthar and Anantharamaiah get into govern-ment service. They will ensure that India, which is currently ranked 6th in the corruption index of Transparency International, will ‘rise’ to first place.

Syed Iqbal

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