Schooling, they say, is nothing more than handing a compass and a map and allowing for discovery. But that freedom -the way to teach, how to, how much, what and when -is often thwarted by set curricula, exam deadlines, a code of teaching, and for that matter, even a daily school timetable. Countering all that is a school, a home school that allows kids and teachers to live alongside and pick up life's lessons as they go along.
Like Ad Astra (meaning `to the stars') started by Elon Musk for his own children and another small set of kids whose parents work at SpaceX, India has its own -Isha Home School. Run by the non-profit Isha Foundation, plans are now afloat to replicate this tried-and-tested model and set up several such schools across the nation.
Founder Sadhguru says, “We have aimed at starting 25 schools in second-tier cities and each of these will manage five rural schools. We will set a standard every school will aspire for. Let's open high-quality schools, and raise the bar of education.“
The foundation is looking for investors who believe in this promise. “There are agencies in America, government aided agencies that are willing to invest. But there are so many restrictions, so many laws, “he said. The Home School has one teacher for 4.5 children, but currently almost everyone there is a volunteer and hence the math and economics fit. But when plans swell, the question of viability sneaks in.
“You can bring in a billion dollars into this country and build beautiful schools. It will cost. It will pinch parents. But your child will have the best education in terms of quality, in terms of exposure, like what they will get at Eton or in private schools in USA. It will, of course, cost much less than there. “
However, restrictions in existing laws have held up these plans. “Why are we stopping progress because of ideas attached to the past? Is there somebody else who cares more than parents? And schools? I'm saying give a free hand to everybody to start educational institutions, in investment, how they price it and what they teach, give them total freedom. Let investors make money, pay taxes and children benefit. “
Sadhguru believes that if large investment flows into education, the market forces will allow the good ones to survive and the poor quality schools will perish, thus upping the bar in schooling.
The country, he says, must direct its energies and funds, including CSR grants into education. “We think it may happen after 50 years but we must understand two three generations will pass. The important thing is we can make a difference for the present generation, children who are going to school now. This is a fundamental responsibility. “