Every time I visit London, I manage to visit a primary school where I know someone, a teacher or the principal. I talk with the pupils of Class 5 and 6 and try to assess their abilities. After giving a brief talk, I allow them to ask me whatever they want. Finally, I use a quiz.
In comparative terms they are far from the standards seen in English- medium schools in India. Although their general knowledge is better, they lack both a proper understanding of what they are studying, and common sense.
If somebody from England suggests that the standard of primary education here is far better than in India, they are giving a totally misleading impression. I have looked at standards in both countries in a number of different environments and I believe that in London, for example, they are lower.
If children in England enjoy more facilities in both at school and at home that encourage their intellectual development, they appear reluctant to choose education over recreation. They receive computer training from an early age, but the knowledge gained seems to be used primarily for internet games and enjoyment rather than homework or developing their studies.
There are some valid reasons for this. It is not that the standard of teaching is lower in the UK than in India. The teachers themselves are well trained and dedicated, perhaps better trained and more creative than those in India.
For some time I have been predicting an increase in mental illness among the primary school children in Great Britain which I believe to be the true cause of the decline in educational standards. The government and the educational authorities are well aware of this problem. Special drugs are now available to treat affected children but positive treatment results are still awaited.
The research undertaken by educational experts into this issue accords with my understanding of the problem. The teachers of such children in the UK have a more difficult role to play than their counterparts in India. British teachers have more patience and imagination, as using physical contact to discipline children is forbidden. Nor are they allowed to shout at them. There is always the possibility that some parents will launch a complaint against a strict teacher, and there have been cases of good teachers who are trying to discipline pupils being suspended or even dismissed.
For many years I have seen how the family life of such children is influences their poor educational standards. They do not want to be below par as regards their education. It is principally the domestic environment which is responsible for their being aggressive and backward educationally.
I have discovered that the spectre of divorce among married couples with children is the root cause of all the short backs. When the couple after few years of marriage disagree and cannot compromise with each other any more, they go for a divorce. A child or the children at most cases stay with the mother, but at rare cases with the father. The separation process may take a long time and in such circumstances the parents’ relationship can be difficult and even quarrelsome, so that the children are not given enough attention.
After the divorce both parties are able to marry another partner of their choice without giving the future of their children enough consideration.
At present, due to Government policy many children are sent to their absent parents’ house at weekends for financial reasons. If these parents have the children at the weekends, feed and care for them properly and purchase a few essential items for them, than they do not have to pay maintenance.
There may be some good parents who willingly bring these children home and spend quality time with them. They try to show genuine affection towards the children even when they are not together. But how many? Very few.
Now consider the children who are with the mother. Their father, with a new wife and perhaps a child by her, picks them up for the weekend. The children may not feel at ease with the new step-mother and their new half-brother or sister. and can become very depressed.
Now think of yourself as someone who only wants what is best for children in this position. It must be extremely stressful for such children to be looked after by a strange woman who is their father’s new wife – a woman who may be hated by their mother with whom they live for six days a week. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult for such children to address this new woman in their life as Mother.
However much she tries to be good with her husband’s children by his former wife, it may not work if the children have already been turned against her by their mother, thus taking a bad impression of her into this new domestic environment.
If children like these are either tempted or forced to go to absent parents, they will be cut off from their usual circle of friends while their mother has to endure a lonely weekend while they are gone.
I have observed several children in this critical situation growing increasingly miserable as the weeks go on. There is also the prospect that such children may feel scared at being left with the absent parent without the protection of their mother.
Just think of the situation such children are in when they face an emotionally cold woman who is not happy to have them in her home in the absence of the father who is never in the house while they are there.
Such children are unable to do their homework properly and surely their weekend homework is beyond their reach. Weekends which can be enjoyed by other happy children become fearful and uncomfortable for these children who can develop the mental health problems which it is very difficult to cure by drugs alone.
These children can never maintain a good standard of not only education but also behaviour. They tend to be moody, gloomy and at times aggressive and often appear embarrassed and uneasy. Not only do they become envious of those they know who spend interesting enjoyable weekends with their friends and parents, but they can become very jealous and even violent under certain circumstances
Educational experts need to examine these problems in greater depth and discover the ways to improve the UK’s educational standards. They should advise the Government on their findings which should in turn lead to the introduction of better regulations regarding the children of divorced parents. Effective policies to reduce the increasing numbers of divorces should be implemented and proper regard given to the future of children affected by divorce.