Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wherever you go, whatever you do

I'll be there behind you

You don't have to call, you don't have to say

Just think about me and I'll be on my way

The above holds just apt for the phase Jiya and Vansh are going through right now. Jiya follows her big brother around like a shadow and imitates each and every action he does or every word he says. So the 'no's' and the loud nahin's and the angry roars all come in twos now. As do the running around giggling away and talking on the phone with hmm, hmmm, accha accha for the real effect. Its tantrums multiplied by two as are the laughs and the cheer.

Playing hide and seek, but oops ...who hides?!
Sitting on the sofa sipping milk/water
The climbers Hello? Who's this?

Looking out ...
A rare moment of both the siblings sitting so close and not fighting
Another one ...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our School Story by far

The other day I was chatting online with a friend who is also going through the nursery admissions in Delhi for her son and is currently at her parents' place down south. Their family also moved back from the US at the same time as ours because of the same reason of having their son start his schooling here which is why we had some long conversations over the phone and shared notes and experiences and got close over a very short period of time without even having met each other. As we discussed about the schools and our interactions there and about our children, she said that her son would only do good in a school where there isn't too much pressure or more precisely too much strictness on doing things a certain way. I felt she was writing about my own son and more importantly realized that I hadn't paid attention to this aspect while applying in schools or while waiting for their results. I did enquire about almost every school from one of my Education professors, whom I hold in very high esteem and whose opinion I value and trust, and who goes to various schools taking students pursuing education as part of their teacher training programme and thus has a very good first hand experience of the way things function in a school. Having studied in Delhi myself, I myself too have a fair idea about various schools and also got in touch with several parents on a website dedicated solely to this purpose of fellow parents helping each other in whatever way they can to make the process as smooth as possible. I do wish and hope that Vansh gets through a good school where the teachers know how to strike a balance, know the difference between encouraging and pushing and most importantly of all are able to make him feel happy and secure about the whole school experience but at the same time, all the knowledge about the schools and about my own child didn't stop me for applying in schools that I actually wouldn't be very happy sending him to. Unfortunately like many other well educated, well settled and well balanced parents, I too don't have a choice. What if he doesn't make it in any of the schools of my choice. Waiting another year would make the problem worse because admissions become even more difficult as with every passing grade, the number of seats dwindle. This year itself we were rejected by four schools by far because Vansh would be 4 years 14 days old on the deadline of Mar 31, 2009 when actually a child should be 3+ on that date. I am in a way glad about the rejection because those schools don't value our decision about not having sent our 3 years 14 days old son last year as we felt he was just not ready for the indeed huge step in every child's life. But the state of affairs does sadden me not just for myself but for many other parents who wait anxiously for each date when a school is supposed to come out with their first or second or third list, who add their points and pray and wait with crossed fingers, who have worked very hard themselves in their
education as well as work career and even then are not guaranteed a good education for their child and even more for those who for some unavoidable circumstances were not able to do too well for themselves but dream and hope for making it happen for their child. And unfortunately I have no remedial measures to suggest for the way things are happening. Most schools are following a very fair point system where they allocate points to distance, siblings, alumni, parents education and profession and may be a couple more criteria varying from school to school. Something radical needs to be done. The public school system needs a complete facelift so that the common man doesn't feel the need to send his child to only private schools and shell out exorbitant amounts as one fee or the other in the process. With a request by private schools to the Delhi High Court impending approval, the annual fee in any decent private school would be close to a whopping one lakh rupees per annum (+/- 15%). Its a crazy amount and I would be very happy to put it away for my children's future if only I have a choice today of sending them to a government school and being sure about the way they will be educated. Unfortunately I can't even be sure of the kind of toilets they'll be using. Without going into statistics, from first hand experience of my own mother and mother in law being teachers in government schools, I can say that the student teacher ratio to begin with is dismal. The teachers are getting increasingly over worked and in general there is so much displeasure and unhappiness in the air.

While we have been fortunate to get through a fairly decent school in our neighborhood and another couple of so-so ones, we wait with bated breath, literally, for our topmost choice ones. As
I write this, I realize what it must look like to the reader as if its a topmost university admissions and not just nursery admissions I talk about but thats the way it is. We shall remember this time in our lives for a long time to come.