While many parents are queuing up to secure admission in the top city schools, some others who are dissatisfied with their children's experience in schools have decided to take upon themselves the responsibility of educating their children.
K. Devi Saravanan's 10-year-old son Cibi Chenkathir had a tough time in school, and was labelled an “attention deficit” student. Four months ago, she decided to take him out of school and home-educate him. “I am learning a lot now, and don't have to worry about punishment,” says Cibi.
The concept of home schooling is slowly picking up among parents in the city. “In the last few weeks, I have been receiving at least three to four enquiries from parents every week to guide them on home-educating their child,” says Vidya Shankar, who has been advocating home schooling among parents through various forums. “In home education, at least one of the parents should be ready to invest their time on the child for a better future,” says Ms.Shankar, chairperson, Relief Foundation, an NGO working in the area of education. Another parent Rajeswari Bakkiyaraj feels it was the uniformity and regimentation in regular classrooms that prevented their two children form learning at their own pace. These are some who feel the need to be involved in the learning process of their children. “When we teach the children at home, we learn from them too. In fact, they have become self-learners and do not want excessive help from us,” says Ms. Bakkiyaraj. They follow the curriculum of the National Institute of Open Schooling. Given the busy schedules of most parents, such a set-up would work better if parents come together and are engaged in co-operative learning, where parents can take turns to help children every day, says Ms. Shankar.
Some parents are utilising the materials from resource centres to help their children learn. “It is not mandatory for the parents to have such resources. However, they should be educated and open minded, and can join various training programmes, which will help in the process,” she adds. With the implementation of Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, there has been considerable uncertainty on whether such a system of schooling is accepted.
“While the Act does not expressly prohibit home-education, the provisions envisaged under the Act recognise only education in a formal school. Besides, it is the duty of the local authority to ensure that all children are sent to the neighbourhood schools,” says Archana Mehendale, independent researcher for child rights.