The letters KG conjures up something in education as kindergarten. Even after 66years of freedom, we are still holding the British legacy.
A system of pre schooling started by Fredrich Frobel at Bad Blankenburg in 1837. A transition for children from home to school was the basic idea. A pure service oriented center by a German missionary.
It took root in many countries and now it has almost filled our globe. In India, it started during mid 20th century. “The education for all” scheme created a spurt in starting up these preschools either adjoining the main school where space is available or as independent bodies with a “connection” with main school lacking space to accommodate.
The population and the limited number of schools made it difficult for parents to admit their wards. Only govt run schools were in vogue in many cities and big towns. Slowly the policy was liberalized and many private run schools started mushrooming and thrived. During the Imperial regime, few private schools were established in hill stations and cantonment areas by the Christian missionaries.
During the 19th century, the pre schooling of toddlers was not heard of. The education system of the so called British time was a very well thought out plan. The + 5 age of admission into class 1 was an ideal period as the child will be strong enough to understand the earlier disciplines in a school. The tiny tots with their nimble fingers were supposed to play with toys under the care of mother. Thus they are first taught the rudimentary of how to hold a material in hand. Then at the age of 5 they are fit to hold a pencil and slate in those days.
With the early joint family system, children were growing under the care of many elders in the family. They had sufficient time due to 9 to 5 working system .The school hours were also comfortable with 10 to 4 with weekend holidays. Less population and large open areas in most houses and the open field around temples made the children play around to forget the drudgery of the work.
The schools were having very vast open playground.
Those comforts to children started disappearing slowly due to urbanization and the disintegration of families due to various reasons. The size of big houses started reducing into tiny rooms. The space became a constrained. The so called modern living with both parents going out for work, left the children in the cages. Their living habits were copied from the foreign outlook. In search of accumulating vast sums of money, the time was forgotten. Finding time to look after the children was forgotten.
Thus came the search for a suitable habitat for the tiny tots. Thus began the so called play schools. With no space to move, the play schools started functioning, first, in the disguise of looking after the babies by caretakers. So many are thriving even today under the “protection money” breaking all norms specified for a preschool. Darwin’s theory is practiced here heart and soul by the so called owners of these institutions.
With the arrival of the Gulf Boom, the pattern changed. Pre schools attained a new glitter. The NRI’s wanted their wards to be in more comfortable position, and the money was not a problem for them. The main schools also turned their eyes on this idea of setting up the kindergartens.
This opened up the flood gates for “good” business. The gold rush started. The classrooms with a/c comfort, latest gadgets like smart boards and computers, playfields etc; etc; provided a good blanket to catch the parents who did not find time to take care the tiny one even to provide food at the hungry hours and play with them. What more to say, the parents were searching for the time to earn more, ultimately to pay more for the schools.
One advantage with these play schools is that the admission is open round the clock. There is no specific academic year, or for that matter calendar year. The only solace the parents have is that the kindergartens attached to the main schools will totally nullify their search for a main school till 10th and even up to 12th, a genuine guarantee given as a bonus by the school owners.
A genuine question entered the brain of these owners. How to run the show on a long term basis? Quick came the reply which adorned many hues over the period of time. To start with, Donations from prospective parents. Then its name changed to Registration fees. Followed by caution deposit giving a false hope for the parents that this amount will be duly retuned. At the end of 12th year, the school will ask for the receipt as though they are very prompt in returning the deposit. Where is it will be with parents? They would have misplaced it. With heavy heart parents will ultimately treat it as a donation to the school. If by chance someone really produces it, school authorities will plead to donate for a “good cause” or worst come worst give back a pittance of it after deducting a major part in the name of building fund, library cess, lab development fee etc; etc; Finally a big name: Capitation fees. Some schools make a self proclamation that they are the true and direct descendents of the Cambridge and Minnesota schools, and someone use even French and German names making the pronunciation too difficult.
Recently there was a name board in front of a newly painted and very small old house abutting a narrow lane: Original English Kindergarten and a number of colorful boards giving the list of facilities that the school is going to offer. The colorful boards and the attractive application form will really make the parents think that Queen Victoria had her basic classes in this institution. One will wonder whether all these boards can be accommodated inside. Again there is another with the name” Rain tree kindergarten school”. Due to climatic changes, it has become a hard task to predict the time of rainfall. But, here we can see a permanent shower of tears from the eyes of parents.
Because of the problems encountered in charging capitation fee as it was legally aborted, a new type of fishnet was thrown on the parents. The entire fee structure got a fresh look. Different categories were included. For example: library fee, laboratory fee, sports fee, transportation charges, entertainment, computer lab fee, and so on and so forth, that the parents will find it difficult to read the small prints in the one page application form which also is dosed with a huge fee. At this rate, even if fees is extracted for a trip to Mars as the Geography teacher is very enthusiastic and having come from Rameswaram , the dreamland, parents have to give it on beg, borrow or steal basis.
New and novel schemes are brought for the inaugural function of a new school in the neighborhood. 50% fee concession (after escalating it to 150%), for the enrolment of every two students, it is free for the third with an asterisk mark. A free school bag with a color pencil set and an eraser and a scale and a water bottle initially filled is given. Added to it a sightseeing trip with all expenses met for those enrolled with their parents is offered. At present having one child itself is expensive and to get this concession one should wait for five or six years, or should have a triplet in one shot. Most probably the owner of this school must be a businessman dealing in readymade garments who has learnt the rudiments of commercial mathematics and the possibly impossible task of parents to have more children. Here very few may be lucky.
So far no such schools have come out with festival Dhamaka offers and the discount offers in their fee structure. Once the fee is paid, there is no repayment or exchange possible.
So far no convocation is held to celebrate the passing out parade from UKG to standard 1. This system will start shortly. Just like the dress competition for annual day in school for which parents would have spent and struggled to create a look like feature of the models of national and international celebrities, the child will be made to wear the mortarboard, hood and gown and with a rolled paper in palm he or she will be made to pose for a photo. The tailors and the photographers will have a field day (of course with a “cut” to the owner). Otherwise the schools will provide them these costumes for a huge rent. The second one is better as the dress will be of no use afterwards other than donate to another child. But the pride in them will deprive them from accepting it.
Now with the latest notification by the govt: that the number of children should not exceed 120 makes one think as to how to accommodate all in one go in small hutment schools. Definitely it is a difficult question to find a most viable and tricky answer. The answers can come out in different ways.
- Have a shift system on a 24 hrs basis taking into consideration that the city never sleeps.
- Run a night school for children especially of IT and BPO parents.
- Make it on alternate day basis.
- But one owner was very wise in suggesting a nice idea. When few students sit in the benches for 40 minutes, others will stand behind and take a turn. He even commented that his scheme will improve the strength of legs (for which the school is even prepared to offer a big cup of BOOST totally free) and this will help in later years for the person to stand behind the dining tables in overcrowded marriage parties to ensure the seat.
Next comes the weight the child has to carry behind. The real weight lifting in KG starts here. Literally in all means. The initial filling of few books and pencils and the lunch box is only a learning stage. For most of the children, this itself is a burden. Parents carry the brunt up to the nearest transport point. The bus comes very early and the child will be in half sleep mood. While coming back also the same condition. What happens in the school, God only knows.
Few pre schools have already thought out a master plan to start mountaineering course which will train the tiny tots how to carry the heavy baggage on their back and have even called Sherpas from Darjeeling to give a demo. Parents beware! Of course a special fee is waiting to lighten your wallet!
Of late it has become a funny proverbial phrase K illing the golden G oose. The child weighing few Kilo Grams has to shell out tones of currency by their parents or guardians.