19 Jun 2024  |   04:30am IST

Notes on my Education

CHANDER GUPTA

The education ecosystem prevailing at the time when I was a kid has changed radically with the passage of time. During the 1960s and early 1970s, kids of all the families in villages and towns - both rich and poor – studied in government schools. These days usually the kids of only economically weaker sections enrol in government schools. In other words, only those who cannot afford the expenses of private schools send their kids to government schools.

Even though my father earned a handsome living from his legal profession, I was admitted in government schools upto the Matriculation level (Class X). Initially, I was sent to a Government Primary School located close to our residence. In that era there were no private schools in my hometown. The school fee was nominal and never an issue of affordability. The Government Higher Secondary School I studied in was affiliated to Haryana Board of School Education. These days the ‘elite’ schools are affiliated to the Central Board of School Education (CBSE).

Being a product of government schools from the mid-1960s to early-1970s, my introduction to the English alphabet started in Class VI only. There was no English subject in the Primary School upto Class V. Nowadays kids first learn the English alphabets before those of Hindi language even in Hindi-speaking areas. If we ask children studying in so-called English-medium private schools about Hindi alphabets, most of them won’t be able to recount all the alphabets.

Even though I started learning English from Class VI only, I developed an inclination for English from the beginning. Very quickly I acquired a good grounding in English grammar. During my graduation in Arts, English was a compulsory subject. We were taught English also in Hindi medium. Predictably, after graduation I enrolled for MA (English) in Panjab University. Linguistics was my favourite subject.

Fees in government schools were never an issue even for poor parents. Even during graduation, which I did from a private college, the fee was nominal. During university time (1979-1981), my father used to give me a princely sum of Rs 500 per month, which took care of tuition fee, hostel fee, mess fee, and all other pocket expenses. My education was almost free, if compared with the fees nowadays. After doing my MA in English, I started looking and applying for jobs. Without much headache and any approach, I landed the job of Probationary Officer in a leading Public Sector Bank after completion of studies. Those were the days when parents hardly had to worry about education expenses and jobs for their children. My siblings also landed prestigious jobs without any recommendation or approach, purely on merit.

The college I graduated from was affiliated to Kurukshetra University. The Governor of Haryana was the ex-officio Chancellor of Kurukshetra University. The Chancellor of Panjab University, my alma mater for MA (English) course, was the Vice-President of India in ex-officio capacity. I developed the notion that Chancellors were always high-level dignitaries holding constitutional posts. Later on, with the entry of private players, I found out that the businessmen and industrialists who opened universities anointed themselves as Chancellors.

Only the rich can afford admissions in private educational institutions. Many parents have to even borrow from Banks to finance the higher studies of their wards.


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