Saturday, March 29, 2008

Questions not asked

Here is a contributed piece. The author of this post, while ruminating over current affairs, uncovers questions yet not asked or not asked well enough. We invite you to get to know the elephants in the room...

Questions Not Asked !
by Anonymous

It is refreshing and comforting to note that the editors and the commentators of this blog permit and also analyze all entries and comments. At the same time, it is extremely saddening and frustrating to observe that the school has so far not bothered to give its version of things to contest, refute, accept or discuss these issues. It is not just the ‘fee hike’. We would be wrong to assume that this fee hike, if reverted, solves all the problems. Far from it. There have been many surveys. Most of them came with some very clear verdicts. Even assuming that only 10 to 15 % of the stakeholders seemed to dissent and disapprove, is it not in the interest of the school to get into a discussion on those?

[We thrive on hope. The unshakeable GIIS/GIF culture of non co-operation and non-responsiveness is by now well understood and well documented -Ed].

Those calling for ‘concrete evidence’ and ‘absolute proof’ fail to understand the gravity of the situation. There are certain limits to which the blog authors can go. They are not immune from attacks or discrimination or slander either. Nor would they like to place the children’s future/education at peril. With so many big names and advisors in the team, GIF and GIIS can get away with quite a lot. Infact, they already have gotten away with quite a lot ! And there is only so much that any one, or two, or three individuals can do. It is up to people like us to discern, form/re-form our opinions, discuss and debate, enlighten, make decisions, speak out as needed, and exercise our options and rights.

It is, in fact, quite amusing to note so many comments on account sheets, the amount of money that made the profit etc. Nothing wrong with it ! But I would have been happier, had there been an equal number of comments on the letter from the Bhavan. As parents of young children, we should look at the ethics and the values that govern the acts of individuals, families and institutions. Money can be made and lost. We should ensure that money is ‘made’ the right way and ‘spent’ for the right purposes. But, as elders, if we fail to stand up for what is just, honest, ethical and fair, we would be failing badly.

Now, all of us know that the school and its management have not, till date, told us why we are no longer a Bhavan’s school. There was not even a terse one liner saying that we are no longer ‘that’ and will henceforth be ‘ this’.

Two, we know that teachers are poorly paid and that many of those 'once loyal', good and experienced teachers (who any school will love to employ) have left. This is not to say that those who haven't left are not good ! But let us not shy away from telling the truth. A few have been retained, after they submitted their resignation and after prolonged bargaining. This meant paying them 1.8 to 2.5 times their previous salary, thus creating further divide among the teaching fraternity.

Three, a simple back of the envelope calculation will tell us, without depending upon the so-called "unreliable" documentary exposures (2006, 2005), that the school has been making huge profits not just on the tuition fee and registration fee but also through bus fee, sale of books and so forth. Nothing wrong in it either, as long as GIIS calls itself a ‘for profit’ enterprise and gently asks Gandhi to take a walk! Parents like us, then, can decide what to do. After all, some of our own brothers and sisters have their children studying in International Schools in Singapore which are ‘expressedly for profit’! But then GIIS, in such a case, will have to exhibit and put on evidence professionalism and corporate behaviour. It should not take shelter behind ‘Gandhian’ frock. If you decide to walk the ramp, be dressed for it! It can’t be Gandhian for the purpose of attracting big souls and parents, and Hritik Roshan while selecting cars, business suits, hotel rooms and prime time ZEE TV!

Four, the status of the washrooms (which have not increased in number in keeping with the increase in numbers), the equipping of laboratories, the sports facilities, the coach to learner ratio for CCA and ECA, the teacher to pupil ratio, the results of std X of CBSE, (the undisclosed) results of the IB Diploma… none of these have shown any sign of improvement. In fact, there has been a marked deterioration in the case of some, both in absolute terms and in comparative terms.

So, are we not entitled to ask questions like these ? ‘Why increase the number of students? Why launch more schools from the money earned through just one? Why fly in and host more number of these advisors, at school’s cost, when we see no direct impact of these advisors on schooling of our children? If you have problems – of money, human resource, space, technology, whatever- why not take us in to confidence, ahead of introducing a new plan (fee hike, change of head, new campus...) instead of delivering it to us as fait accompli ? What is your real motive? Do you want to run a good school? Or run 'also ran' schools in every country that has more than 5000 Indians? Or make a network of "well known" schools, [We call it "building the brand" at our expense -Ed] meaning well advertised and not necessarily well run, and sell them off at some point of time to a good bidder or settle for an IPO ?

Let us ask, gentlemen, ASK. But ask intelligently and politely. Ask with focus and with purpose. Ask without hurting but don't fail to point out.
[Readers, we welcome your thoughts and comments.
We welcome well-thought out and well-written pieces. If you feel passionately about something, write for us, and share it with others!
-Ed]

1 comment:

Disappointed said...

The story of deceit and lies continues.The last two newsletters are interesting. The first one exhibits pictures the first ever cohort of CBSE std XII in graduate gowns. They all look cheerful and happy.We wieh them luck. But it would be prudent to ask ' how many CBSE schools in India do a graduation ceremony for std XII?'. My information is : not a single one.The day after the examination, most CBSE std XII students in India and in Gulf ( where I was before) start preparing fir their AIEEE and All India PMPD examinatiosn or the National Law School or NIFT or NID tests. This does not mean that our children here are incapable or that they do not want to do. But has there been any effort to introduce any coaching for any of these? We have been waiting for two full years. And we have had so may newsletters about a) Brilliant Tutorials ,b) Some Pune based crowd, c) FIIT JEE and d) more recently Career Launcher of Delhi. But none of these has seen the light of the day.But them why does GIIS do these graduate ceremonies? Photos, newsletters,inform its thousands of people on mailing list that they are doing a great job, tell the Indian High Commissioner that GIIS is a great place etc., All of us know too well how the school has disowned the results of the of the first cohort of IB Diploma whose bright young faces adorned the cover of the school's magazine last year!So it will be a journey from one photo shoot to another, appointment of World Bank chairman to UN Under Secretary General, start of Montessori section in an already existing school ( which faced closure in Dec 2007 and announced as facing closure by GIIS management)in Auckland and as Vidoo Shak says announcement of schools in Malibu, Papua New Guinea and so on.Where are we heading from here? It is so disheartening and depressing to note that we have entrusted our children's education in the hands of peopel who seem to have no clues as regards running a decent school.All that I can say is that ' Hope this set of cheerful younsters ( of CBSE std XII) do get good scores and become good citizens of the world'.