Why I decided to start a school: An Indian's struggle to break superiority complex syndrome to ensure affordable education

This surely is my goal but to be very frank, it is only one of my goals, and dares I say, at the risk of raising many eyebrows, not even my main goal. I did start with an attempt to explore a model of affordable education with parents’ involvement and will continue to explore the same but, frankly, things never really moved forward till the time when affordability remained the only or main goal.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  7 Oct 2022 7:41 AM GMT
Why I decided to start a school: An Indians  struggle  to break superiority complex syndrome to ensure affordable education

This article has been written by Ashish Naredi, Founder, Indic International School

It was a multitude of factors that prompted me to seriously consider starting a school. Given my role in the agitation against irrational fee hikes in schools, it is only natural for people to assume that the intent behind this move is to explore a model where quality education can be provided at a reasonable cost.

This surely is my goal but to be very frank, it is only one of my goals, and dares I say, at the risk of raising many eyebrows, not even my main goal. I did start with an attempt to explore a model of affordable education with parents' involvement and will continue to explore the same but, frankly, things never really moved forward till the time when affordability remained the only or main goal.

I did work with full seriousness and explored various models. One of them was `OUR School' (Own UR School) wherein we would float an LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) in which parents would invest the money, own the school land & Building, put a cap on profit percentage, and ensure the best of the facilities at the most reasonable of costs. But for different reasons, things never really moved forward.

One, of the many reasons, was, perhaps, that the burning desire or urge to make it happen at all costs was missing. That urge and desire came in when the goals expanded beyond affordability toward what we could do with education. With the seed of wanting to start a school already planted, I was constantly thinking, reading, researching, and meeting a lot of people - from teachers to principals, to educationists. The more I read the more people I met and the more I analyzed the more I started seeing the hollow foundations of our present education system.

We do not even have a universally, or even nationally, accepted definition of Education. What we do have instead are fancy frameworks like 3Rs, 5Cs, etc. which are initiated in the west and then blindly copied by the rest. You compare these frameworks, which seem more like marketing gimmicks, with the deep philosophy and methods of education that, for instance, Sri Aurobindo espouses in his Integral Education – and then you will start seeing the sea of difference.

We are so used to aping the west that it seems that we, as a society, have almost lost the confidence to be able to take an independent stand based on what we deem good for ourselves and not what other deems good for us. The urge to stand up and call the bluff became stronger and stronger. Multiple other factors kept adding to this urge. One day, one of my relative's kids, studying at a top international school in Hyderabad, asked his mom to wear Jeans for his upcoming parent-teacher meeting. "Please don't come wearing your behenji-type sarees," he said.

His mom took it in her stride but I was aghast! However, I soon realized that I was no different in my school days. I clearly remember how uncomfortable I was with the fact that my mother did not know English! Why is it, I thought, that from my generation to the next the feeling of unease and inferiority about aspects of our identity – be they language, dress, religion, nationality, or any other – have only become worse? How can a system of education induce a feeling of unease or inferiority about any aspect of any student's identity? And if an education system does so, then can it be called an education? Certainly not in my opinion, and I hope, not - in yours too.

As a result of my work on the school fee front, I came in contact with several politicians, bureaucrats, academicians, activists, and more. I was added to several WhatsApp groups and was invited to forums across the spectrum of political ideology. Herein I got to see how education was reduced to a battleground of ideology and how its success was measured in terms of the numbers it could add to their respective ideological side. I noticed multiple instances of authentic facts being discredited and of fabricated research being drummed up as gospel truth. Once you see through this game, it is very difficult to restrain yourself from not doing anything about it. I, on my part, started writing columns for different news portals, made videos for social media, and authored some research reports as well but soon realized that if there truly has to be an impact, then the efforts have to be concentrated on the soul of our education system – our schools.

The net result of all this was that it became impossible to just sit and do nothing. I, now, had to act.

Indic International School is the result of this action. It is my way of exploring how we could actually solve the problems identified and not just talk about them. Would love to talk and write about the different solutions that we are working on, but I guess, that's best left for some other occasion. Perhaps, for a time when parents visit our school campus when it is open for all in a few weeks. Readers may also watch out for a series of short videos that we will be soon releasing, across our social media pages.

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