Should We Have A Multi-Legged Education System?

November 1, 2021

"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”
-Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), English Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign.

This new column, EDUWISE, is about the changing educational scene in India and across the globe - going back to ancient times.

The gurukula system of education in India has been in existence since ancient times. The Upanishads (1000-800 BCE) mention multiple gurukulam, including that of guru Drona at Gurgaon. The Vedic school of thought prescribes the gurukula (sacred rite of passage) to all individuals before the age of eight and at least by 12. From initiation until the age of 25, all individuals are prescribed to be students and to remain unmarried, and celibate.

Gurukulam were supported by public donations. This was followed by the many following Vedic thoughts, making gurukula one of the earliest forms of public school centres.

Then, under the British rule ( Macaulay for instance), education came under three components – students and their parents, teachers and management and regulation and supervision by government departments concerned.

This has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic when some parents could not pay the initially-agreed school fees and they appealed to the departments of government. The government/ educational department decreed a compromise formula ordering a reduction in the annual fees by 30 % for the academic year 2021/22.

The private schools went up to the Supreme Court and here is its ruling delivered in early-October 2021. The Supreme Court said a school management can recover pending fees from parents after considering their “just” pleas -- related to more time or some other difficulties – “compassionately.”

“It is open to the school management to initiate appropriate action for recovery of the outstanding dues/amount, if any, in accordance with law,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar said. “At the same time, if the concerned parent or ward seeks some indulgence for just reasons, it will be open to the school management to consider such request compassionately,” the bench said.

The court passed this order on October 1,2021 on an application seeking clarification on the judgement. It said the school management can recover the fees “strictly in accordance with law.”

Among others, the top court's judgment had then directed the school management not to debar any student from attending either online classes or physical classes on account of non-payment of fees and arrears, including the instalments. It had also then directed them not to withhold the results of the examinations of any student for that reason.

The court also said that, if any individual request is made by the parent or ward finding it difficult to remit annual fees for the academic year 2020-2021 in terms of the judgment, the school management should consider such representation sympathetically on a case-to-case basis.

Passing its order on the clarification application, the bench said, “The spirit of the direction was to give time to the concerned parent or ward to pay the fees, including by way of instalments.”

In its contention, the school management said that the last date for paying the instalments has already expired long ago and, despite that, there were some parents and wards who were still in arrears and had committed default.

Allowing the recovery of fees in such cases, the court said the parent or ward can obviously approach the appropriate forum if the demand was excessive and beyond the permissible amount.

The top court, however, said private school management, engaged in doing the charitable activity of imparting education, is expected to be responsive and alive to the pandemic situation and take necessary remedial measures to mitigate the hardship suffered by students and their parents.

These seem pious recitations that have no legal binding and are a far cry from the ancient Gurukul system where the student or his parents paid what is feasible. The next appeal could be to national/international arbitration – thus adding a fifth leg to the educational process.

But, there is an exit route – by voting with your feet. When the classes reopened, there were fewer footfalls at the elite schools that liberally use “International” “Oxford” and “Cambridge” on their school name-boards and letter-heads. It is also a lesson for parents not to compete and show off to the Joneses and Kapoors.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Please send your response in the format given below (Stroll down a bit).

One-time Postscript

While mainly tailored for students, teachers, school administrators and education officials, this column does not foreclose non-academic readers of Daiji. It is an all-embracing column open to all readers to respond. This fortnightly column is starting from November 1, 2021 and will be featured every fortnight (Monday) hereafter.

Reproduction Rights

The topic essays featured in this column are suitable for setting class home-work, competitions, debates, etc. Please contact for reproduction rights:

John B Monteiro, Johnlyn Cottage, Bondel, Mangaluru 575008

M:98862 76608 Ph. 0824-2484051. Email:





By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Edmond George Noronha, Kirem-Mangalore

    Fri, Nov 05 2021

    "But, there is an exit route – by voting with your feet. When the classes .... It is also a lesson for parents not to compete and show off to the Joneses and Kapoors". This speaks all in a nutshell. Quite encouraged to go through the article. Adding to it, my simple but important point to make us : Does Primary classes, standard from 1st to 4th in particular require one year's duration of academic studies? The present academic syllabus could be very well covered in half of its time.

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Wed, Nov 03 2021

    Mangalorian, Mangaluru: Thank you for your boni welcome and the nice things said. I readily accept with thanks your point about education being open to Brhamins only and the 98% of Indians were fully illiterate until 150 years ago. Roshan, Mangalore: I find your vision of late and abridged formal schooling will find wide acceptance from fellow readers. Joel, Mangalore: I feel many will share your views on NEP. But, we will have to wait and see. Thank you for coming on board.

  • Joel, Mangalore

    Mon, Nov 01 2021

    I feel the new education policy might increase the pressure on students than decreasing it.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Mon, Nov 01 2021

    I feel the children should be sent to school only after 10 or 12 years. Until then they should be allowed to enjoy life in the outdoors and self learn. They can also learn from their parents , grandparents etc. They can have only 3 months of schooling until then , that is April , May and October. Some can have some special classes in November or December. The school can take full fees and pay the teachers. They can also be happy at home and come teach the students when they come to school. After they join regular school within 5years they have to decide the specialisation and in another 4 years they have to be ready for work well trained on the job. This is my dream for education.

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Mon, Nov 01 2021

    Thank you Mr Monteiro for your article on the changing education scenario. It is a very pertinent topic. Until the advent of Internet, students had only one option: to attend classes to learn something. But now, with various forms of training available online, the education system need to do away with classroom attendance. It is not only very outdated, but also very irrelevant in this day and age. On a separate matter: your mention of gurukula/Upanishads/1000-800 BCE thoroughly confused me. Gurukula was limited to Brahmins, just 2% of the population. The rest of the 98% of the Indians were fully illiterate 150 years ago! It was the European missionaries that started teaching literacy to others. How were the Upanishads written? There is ZERO evidence of these written even in 1700 AD, and you are talking about BCE!

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