As a young student myself, one of the experiences I have enjoyed most is working with children in government schools in both India and Thailand. It has been fascinating to see the difference, to understand what makes a society grow. It made me think about what each country seems to value and even about how each country makes place for those who cannot pay for private education. An initiative by our school, Pathways School Noida, saw a group of us who regularly work with schools in India, spend some days with similar schools in Thailand.
A good educational system is the key foundation stone for the development of any nation, for it nurtures its most valuable resource- young people.As Nelson Mandela rightly said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’
In Thailand, it was very clear to see the powerful belief in a strong education system- and the government is prepared to invest in it. Our Community Service project took us to number of schools across Thailand from Princess Mother School in Phayao, Chiang Kham Public School to Chiang Kham Primary School in Chiang Kham.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the excellent infrastructure and facilities available for the students in all the schools and at first thought they were private schools as such schools would be, in India. I was shocked to find that these schools were in fact public schools, run and funded by the government. I found that the Thai government spends 22% of the total government expenditure on education. Even in a small town like Chiang Kham, the infrastructure and quality of the government school was truly inspiring, comparable to some of the most expensive private schools in India. The classrooms were stocked with every possible amenity, right from white boards and computers, to projectors and microphone systems to even microwaves and fridges in the classroom! There was even a 4D multiplex on their campus, and all this is available to the students for no cost what so ever. The students do not have to pay for education, uniforms or even stationary and books, as everything is paid for by the government and the emperor.
It saddened me to compare the public school system in Thailand and India. Despite the fact that our government spends about 650 Billion INR on education, our government schools sometimes lack the most basic amenities and facilities including books and writing material. Sometimes even basic infrastructure like paint work and furniture is found missing. Often classrooms in India where I have worked with children, are over-crowded with about 40-50 children per class. The chairs and tables are broken and damaged from somewhere or the other and despite being an English medium school, the only teacher who speaks relatively decent English is the English teacher.
It is high time for people to become aware of what is happening and take a step towards making a difference, making a change towards a better educated India, and lobby to our government to improve and better the public school system in our country, so that we too can give our young citizens the advantage of education in its fullest form
Shreya Gupta is a Grade 11 student at Pathways School Noida