Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Pressures of 4-yr Old Kindergarten

One of the side benefits about teaching overseas is that you become much more informed geographically and regarding the news of countries/regions in which you've taught and/or interviewed. Now my eyes/ears are perked up regarding news in India. Here is one such story, taken from the Herald Tribune:

I have been told that Indians place a high value on education. Imagine though, that the school that your 4 year old child gets into is believed to make or break their future. Families, desperate to get their child into a top private school, will do anything to make it happen - offer prayers, set aside bribe money, and spend many restless nights worrying. Some apply for around 15 schools for their pre-kindergarten child, all in the hopes of getting in to the most desirable one. This is their chance to make a better life for their child - even if it means taking out hefty loans just to fund the education of their pint-sized offspring. Getting into the top school also carries the "designer label" affect and sends a message about the status of the family and what social class you're in.

In an overcrowded country where 40% of the population is under 18 and most of the rest under 30, there simply are not enough spaces for all children, particularly in the private schools. Sometimes, these young kids commute more than 65 km (40 miles) every day to go to a good or at least a well-regarded school. More private schools are sprouting up, but it still isn't enough. One International school received 2,014 applications for 112 pre-kindergarten seats. Some, hoping their money or influence will help get their child in (admission criteria is set by the school and does have preferential acceptance, such as girls, kids from single parents, or kids whose siblings already go to the school), try to exert their power or offer a "donation." One person who works at the electricity board threatened to cut off the school's power if a certain child was not admitted.

What kind of pressure these kids must be under to perform- and already at 4 years old!

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