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ERIC Number: EJ1061647
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Feb
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 29
ISSN: EISSN-1478-2103
Small Schools in Rural India: "Exclusion" and "Inequity" in Hierarchical School System
Diwan, Rashmi
Policy Futures in Education, v13 n2 p187-204 Feb 2015
Small schools have enjoyed rich traditions in the history of education. The Vedic-age gurukula small schools, an abode for children of the privileged few, followed a structured curriculum in the teaching of religion, scriptures, philosophy, literature, warfare, medicine, astrology and history. The rigvedic small schools, which were more egalitarian, opened their doors for admission to all strata of society. In medieval India small schools located in pathshalas, madrasas and informal surroundings of a village, for example, in the teacher's house, places of worship or under a tree imparted instruction in the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Peer-group learning, multipoint entry, needs based studies, adaptability to the immediate environment and adjusting school hours to suit local requirements were the chief merits of these schools. By the time the British arrived, India had a fairly widespread village based small primary school education on revenue free land. A major shift came with the East India Company's policy of maximizing land revenue, where the Indian education system faced starvation in its financial resources, leaving small village schools in shabby dwellings with ill qualified teachers, an absence of primary facilities including a blackboard, furniture and proper seating arrangement, etc. By the 1830s the small village schools no longer stood as the vital centres of learning. Today the modern small schools in rural India are found struggling in the same way, with limited human and physical resources, low enrolment and high a incidence of teacher and student absenteeism. The present paper reviews the current status of small primary schools (grades 1 to 5 in most cases) in rural India by drawing a national picture substantiated with field observations in the villages of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in order to examine the realities on the ground and to develop an understanding of the different contexts in which small schools function. The paper recommends the recognition of the fact that small schools exist in massive numbers and cannot be allowed to struggle further and eventually perish. Sustaining these schools and improving them further has become mandatory. The Right to Education Act 2009 has brought some hope that will look seriously into the provision of minimum facilities as per the entitlements of each school and will ensure regularity of teacher attendance through specified norms.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: India