Of Ideas and Ideologies
By Merlia Shaukath
  15 April 2016

"What is the best system of education?" -  There are few topics more polarizing than this. Our idea of what the ends of education ought to be and how systems should be designed to realise those ideals is often guided by the ideologies we espouse - both as individuals and collectively as a society. And just like how ideologies often clash and lead to fractious mobs claiming to be superior than the other, we often see champions of different schools of thought engaging in unwinding debates about the superiority of one education model over the other (invariably in good faith) armed with powerful statistics, case studies and personal narratives.

At Madhi we do not believe there ever can be one 'best way to teach' children. We work with the core belief that children are unique, their learning needs different and their socio cultural backgrounds diverse. However, our schools, syllabi and policies do not reflect this need for heterogeneity; this is the system that has been handed to us and this is the system our children are forced to grapple with. So, while we continue to debate on what the ends of education ought to be and some of us continue to actively advocate systemic reform in all the right circles where policy decisions are made, the rest of us must work toward limiting the damage our system wreaks, not only on our children but also on the teachers and school principals, many of whom are committed and dedicated professionals who remain focused and motivated despite the system.

At Madhi, we serve being acutely aware of the fact that systems cannot change overnight, or sometimes even over an entire lifetime; we work with the belief that we can slowly chip away a few rough edges at a time. We do not subscribe to rigid ideologies and are willing to learn, adapt and evolve based on what we see and hear in classrooms and school corridors; and in places where neither classrooms or schools exist but excellent education does. The Transformational Academic Programme is the result of a lot of learning, listening and empathising with what our teachers and children had to say. We listened intently to the challenges they faced everyday and also to their stories of fighting the system, day after day. Their stories inspired us to become a part of their struggle, agonise over finding the most workable and meaningful solutions and together work towards a collective vision of making a nurturing ecosystem a reality for all teachers and an excellent education accessible for every child. 

Needless to say, the task ahead of us is daunting: more so because we do not believe in quick fixes for a problem as complex as educational inequity. We give ourselves no choice but to persist and persevere,joining hands with people and organisations that share our conviction and vision.

If we do not do this for our children now, we may leave behind a grossly unequal and unfair world, and we must ask ourselves if that is indeed the legacy our generation wishes to leave behind.

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