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The Fun Schools

Date: 11-Aug-2017

Like any other person of age (euphemism for oldie), I shall start with – “Those were the days!!” – at least in rural India. The day the parents decided that the child should go to school, irrespective of the age,month, season or child’s willingness, schools would welcome the child.

No interview for the child or parents, no merit list and no capitation fee.  And the school had no benches and no class rooms. No LKG, no UKG, direct admission to class one. No frills school – a great lesson in management that the airlines would pick up many years later.

I don’t really remember, but I must be of the right age, when my parents decided that I should be going to school. Whether the decision was taken to enhance my chances of landing a decent job later in life or to get rid of permanent tail to my mom that I had developed into, is debatable.  To the school, I went. I was made bonafide student of class one. One advantage of having teacher parents is – education starts right from the first cry. So by the time I was admitted to class one, I had already covered syllabus of class two in the informal classes at home. After a few months, the class teacher went to the Principal to have a word about me. The fact that Principal was my own mom, can be ignored. The tail-to-my-mom theory also had a twist. As a tail I would go to school anyways, so why not make it official! Thus, the parent cum Principal – teacher meeting had the outcome that I was officially promoted to class two. Everyone was happy for the promotion. This decision came to haunt me 12 years later. This was a girls’ school where boys were allowed till 5th class.

I was shifted to local boys school in class 6th. That was the school where they made men out of boys. Classes were held under the trees for the lack of rooms. There were boys who were about my age and there were many other boys, who going by their age, should have been in 10th class. Some of them had started school late in life and some had spent majority school life in the same class. No classrooms translated to no benches also. So we all used to carry our own rugs to sit on. Actually, not all. Big boys seldom carried anything to school, they thought it was their right to poach on our goods. So despite carrying the rug every day, under developed kids like me had to sit on earth only. I guess that’s what the wise man meant when he said – the meek shall inherit the earth. Not carrying the rug was also not an option as that would really upset the big boys.

Teachers were not really interested in teaching as the students were not really interested in being taught. It was more of physical activity school than the cerebral one. Majority time would be spent on upkeep of the vast playgrounds, doing errands for school and playing games. Whatever time was left for studies, major chunk would go into meting out punishment for not doing homework. Favorite pastime of our physical trainer was to have the wrestling bout of two underweight kids – me and another boy. That regular activity did not add to anything – still anyone can bully me and we did not progress beyond class level wrestling. It was sheer wastage of national resources.

One good thing about the school was its green traditions.Every child at admission was supposed to plant a tree and look after it throughout the tenure. Going by the school standards and as almost all the classes were held under the trees, planting a tree was like planting classroom for the future generations. Many a times fights between boys would find an easy target in that ‘personal’ plant. Plant would be uprooted or simply made to vanish. A new sapling would be planted the very next day.

We shifted to the royal city of Patiala when I was in 9th. After serious investigations, best government school of the city was selected and I was deposited there. Best private school of Patiala was managed by the royal family, but this government school also had a royal connection. Royal elephants used to be housed in this place once upon a time - hence the name ‘Pheelkhana’.  I had studied in girls’school and I had studied in boys’ school. This school had both. It was kind of uncomfortable to have half the class occupied by girls. And to make the situation worse, teaching medium was English. As if not enough, I was enrolled in science subjects after studying drawing and nothing in previous classes. Sheer ignorance of the problem helped me surmount the challenges.

The decision to promote me from class one to two at the tender age and a decision which was not even 12 years farsighted, made me ineligible for entering a medical college as I was underage. I had to wait for one year to appear for the entrance exam. I stood second in the district. A proud moment indeed.

 

 

 

 

 Aug 4, 2017.

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