What is Alternate Education ?

“To love one’s children is to be in complete communication with them: it is to see that they have the right kind of education that will help them to be sensitive, intelligent and integrated”
– by J Krishnamurti
The plethora of Alternative Education schools in India spread over different states has been debated by educators, lawmakers, and parents since the passing of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act also known as RTE which makes formal education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 to 14 and specifies minimum norms for schools.

Modern education system in India is based on the Western model, brought to India in the erstwhile colonial British rule. Majority of the people and the government recognizes the same as an appropriate one. But there are many people who take on the alternative education in India, some unorthodox and unconventional methods of teaching and learning. Prior to the coming of the British, the country had a rudimentary education system. There were many institutions for different communities, e.g., Muslims used to study in madrassas and Hindus used to study in Gurukuls. With the coming of British, the systems were rendered obsolete and were replaced by Western models. Even Mahatma Gandhi shared a vision of uplifting the weaker sections by addressing the problem at the grassroot level. These people realized the importance of alternative education in India for sections that cannot afford formal training. Yet another example of alternative education in India is the concept of open schools. Open schools are established to encourage the section of society that for some reason cannot attend regular schools. The mobilization on this front has been supported by government to increase enrollment by bringing those children and people under the banner, which are least interested in joining regular schools. Community schools in rural areas and locations where there is no feasibility of providing a regular school is also a good option of alternative education in India. Many NGO and civil societies have been working in coordination with other agencies, both government and private, to help establish community schools. A very personalized education environment can be provided with one more alternative education system called homeschooling. This system is much popular in American states whereas its legality is still under question as far as India is concerned. The children are educated at home and do not attend the schools. However, there are consultants and tutors that are consulted from time to time about the development of the child. In latter stages, the children appear for the exams and may join school or college as regular students.

Alternative education in India, whatever the means and modes are, does not have much influence and it is the regular schools that majorly contribute in educating the children. Obviously to educate a child at home is an enormous step and undoubtedly represents a huge commitment. If it is contemplated at all, several fear may arise.

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