Albert Einstein, if alive, was bound to hate us. No, we have not debunked his theory of relativity. Nor have we refuted his mammoth contributions to quantum theory. At the beginning of this New Year, we have just dared to question his famous words ‘The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education’. Does the adage hold true today? Are children learning while being educated? How have different genres of education responded to the needs of the new world we live in?
Hey, do not get flustered with all those questions. The GT team decided to take a look at two educational set ups – complete opposites vis-à-vis reputation and resources.
Sector 33, Noida, Students: 120
Area: 500 sq mts*
Teachers: 10 (5 volunteers, 5 full time)
|*The same building complex has an Arya Samaj Temple as well as a Vridhashram (old age home)|
Baliawas Off Gurgaon – Faridabad Road Students: 280, Area: 10 acres Total capacity: 2000, Teachers: 94
9:30 am-9.50 am: Snack - A savoury, seasonal fruit, flavoured milk
12:10 pm-1pm: Lunch - Dal, seasonal dry vegetable, rice, roti, salad, continental dish (bake or pasta), bread, butter and a sweet
3:30 pm-3:45 pm: Snack
*The food is provided by a caterer and the school authority is not ‘informed’ about the energy consumption and the number of LPG cylinders used.
4 am: Wake up
8 am: School starts
*Lunch is combined with free play for primary school students
*Class routines are specific to primary, middle and senior school
Breakfast: Dalia, khichdi, kheer Lunch and Dinner: Roti, seasonal vegetable, dal, salad, occasional curd and sweet No of cylinders: 40 *One cook and two helpers prepare all the meals. Children help in cooking as well as distribution of the food.
“In Pathways we compost all our garden and food waste. At the school’s Aravalli branch, the food waste is sent to a piggery. We might do the same in the coming year. Our Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) has been upgraded to minimise the use of chemicals. Also, our kitchen waste is made to pass through a sand pit before it reaches the plant to remove excess oil. The water from the sewage plant is then used for horticulture,” Paramjit K. Narang, School Director, tells us.
The STP, we were told, is under construction. So GT team could not check the plant out.
The school campus has its own Water Harvesting Pits (WHP), a condition that the National Capital Region’s building bylaws anyway demand. “The village near the school had no sewage facilities. We built four pits. While this was for our personal benefit, this helped the village too. So it was a win-win situation,” she adds.
The Gurukul does not follow any sewage management practices because it falls under the purview of the local urban body.
“Education today is embryonic, more pervasive than we realise. It’s time we address education anew and empower young minds to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. Education needs to encourage independent lifelong learners. It is truly a three way process among the student, school and the parents.
Paramjit K. Narang, School Director
* Baccalaureate is a French word meaning pre-university
* Core competencies of IB programme include development of a dynamic and continuously evolving curriculum and continuous assessment of the students
“Gurukul students have a very strong desire to learn and excel in life. They are extremely responsible, self-motivated and dedicated. I am associated with the Arya Samaj temple and it is these students’ urge to grow in life that inspires me to teach them.”
MADHU BHASIN, retired Government school teacher volunteering at the Gurukul
|* The Gurukul is affiliated to the Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar. Internal examinations are held till Class VI. Thereafter, students from across India appear in centralised examinations held at Kangri.|
|A music class in progress at Pathways (left) Gurukul students (right) performed yoga at the opening ceremony of 2010 Commonwealth Games|
|Expert botanist Professor Chaudhary designed a ‘transplantation’ drive to save as many as 70 trees during the school’s construction|
|The Gurukul has its own Gaushala (cow shelter) housing 23 cows. Students assist the Gausewaks (helpers) in daily tasks. The morning produce (40 litres) is sold while the evening produce (45 litres) is consumed by the students.|
No doubt India’s education system has evolved in a progressive manner. The Gurukul, an Indian concept rooted in tradition as well as the International Baccalaureates Programme, touted one of the most progressive education systems, have the same guiding principle – one that nurtures the students’ bare, intrinsic capabilities.
The highlight of the comparison is the similarities. Both the systems flourish in the fundamental synergy of reaching out to the basic abilities of the children. Both have learning environments that are not ‘conventional’ – and both stand out because of their courage and conviction to do something new.
While one is resource rich, the other is not. The Gurukul has proved that profuse resources are not required to get the basic principles of education right. Pathways, a niche educational institute with higher than desirable levels of resource consumption, is also sensitive to the environment.
GT is not endorsing Gurukul or Pathways. What it is trying to do is to urge parents and the future generations to seek out a middle path – a perfect fit for a country like India.
Best of luck path breakers!