If IAS babus can do it, why not B-school grads?

If IAS babus can do it, why not B-school grads?

Welcome to B-Grads A typical environ of a school in rural north Karnataka.  This particular school is in Koppal district. DH Photo

Kapil Sibal’s brand new proposal of posting business graduates as head masters of rural high schools to run them effectively has evoked curious, guarded and mixed reactions.
Considering the pathetic conditions of government high schools in the countryside, some people hope the new idea will click. There is equal scepticism that B- graduates normally lack rural background and may better fit schools in the metros.

“Business graduates cannot comprehend the complex rural problems and stark realities. Schools are not corporate houses to run at the whims and fancies of business graduates. It is an impractical proposition for North Karnataka,’’ remarked Basavaraj Diggavi, who runs a state-of-the-art residential school, including separate swimming pools for boys and girls. He points out that in the rural areas absenteeism and dropouts during harvest season is more but the authorities maintain perfect account of mid-day meal scheme! There is an inherent understanding between the schools and rural folk.

Arun Kumar Oza, who runs a CBSE school, salutes Sibal. He asks if an IAS officer can manage all the affairs of a district, why can’t a B-graduate run a school efficiently? “These days youth from all disciplines such as arts, science and commerce opt for MBA. It will not be difficult for them to administer rural schools.’ he insists.

“If the new initiatives tighten the noose on private institutions, I will be happy,” says Dr P S Verma, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at University of Rajasthan. It will put a check on a number of technical and non-technical colleges who manage to get accreditation through window dressing but actually have neither senior faculty nor adequate infrastructure.

“New measures are welcome but it would be wise to ‘examine’ and learn from past failures, e.g. the Navodaya School experience. Besides, what pains me is gross neglect of rural technology and agriculture sector by Sibal. Agricultural education should be given equal or more weightage at least in rural areas,” he said.

Sudha Acharya, English lecturer in Bhilwara, welcomes reforms but is worried about the implementation. We first need basic infrastructure - library, labs, building, computers and electricity - before experimenting with linking classroom teaching with outside activities, she said.

On the proposed common syllabus for Science and Maths, Bihar School Examination Board Chairman Prof A K P Yadav said students in the State would not feel the diffe rence of uniform curriculum. “In Bihar, the Class XI and XIIth syllabi are already based on NCERT syllabus since 2007. So students from Bihar will benefit as national level competitions like IIT-JEE and CBSE Joint Engineering Entrance Test are based on NCERT syllabus.”

‘B-grads are welcome’

“Administering a village school where the students hail from a different socio-economic background is far more challenging than managing a corporate company. Teaching is not merely delivering academic knowledge to students. A teacher is expected to have thorough understanding of student psychology and should enlighten the students on socio-economic realities like poverty and casteism. MBA graduates from ivory-tower B-schools are sure to fail in village schools,” say Nagendra G K of Mylimane village and Shashi N of Siraguppa, both teachers.

Poornaprajna, SDMC member of Government school, Belur village in Sagar taluk, feels: “The exposure and skills of B-school graduates will benefit rural students. A head master’s job involves multi-tasking, decision making and crises management. Hiring B-school graduates is not a bad idea at all.”


Raising the bar

Hail Kapil Sibal for the slew of innovative ideas to pitchfork the hackneyed Indian education system into a global standard. However, given the Indian context, some of these concepts appear divorced from reality. Specially the proposal to bring B-graduates to head village schools is grandiose and part of a window-dressing exercise that does not take care of the dust and slick just below the window.

“Why will a B-school passout opt for serving a village school when he will have lucrative offers?” wonders Nitin

Sarkar, head of Department of Education, Vidyasagar University. “Assuming he does, things will go from bad to worse. For, neither will he have the  required tools which he applied in his learning, nor will the students gell with him.”

In fact, one is tempted to refer to the beautiful poem ‘The Deserted Village’ by Oliver Goldsmith. It would be a colossal waste of talent. While his “words of learned length and thundering sound” would amaze ‘the gazing rustics ranged around’, the latter would still gaze and their wonder would grow as to how “one small head could carry all he knew.”

Inputs: Prasanta Paul in Kolkata,
Srinivas Sirnoorkar in Gulbarga, Abha Sharma in Jaipur, Abhay Kumar in
Patna, Veerendra P M in Shimoga.

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