There is no question that government facilities will only improve when civil servants and elected representatives start using them.
For example, if IAS officers decide to send their children to government schools, as parents, they will have a greater stake in how the school functions.
Meet Awanish Sharan, the 2009-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer with over a decade of experience, who first enrolled his daughter Vedika into an Anganwadi centre in 2016 for six months before getting her admitted into a government private school in Balrampur district, Chhattisgarh, where he was posted as District Collector.
Does he think civil servants should send their children to government schools?
“It is a personal choice whether anyone’s child prefers or not to study in government school or not. But yes, if a child of any civil servant, especially an officer belonging to the All India Services, gets admission into a government school, its environment does improve. Also, it motivates other people, students and their mindset changes,” he says.
In April 2018, Awanish took over as the District Collector of Kabirdham district, and as a consequence got Vedika admitted into Pramukh Prathamik Shala, a government elementary school in Kawardha, where she is currently studying in Class II.
At the time the media lavished praise on his decision to send his daughter to a government institution, but the IAS officer, in conversation with The Better India, shares that the decision to send Vedika to a government school was based “on my wife’s initiative.”
However, as a product of government schools himself, Awanish was more than happy to get onboard.
As someone with real power over the workings of government institutions like schools, the local district collector, for example, has the power to ensure that the management performs its duties.
Are all basic amenities in place at their child’s school? Does the infrastructure require fixing? Are teachers coming regularly, on time and delivering quality lessons? Such questions can bring a positive change if asked by people with power.
As an officer, who has always prioritised education and health, Awanish has contributed his share to the solution.
“I am a strong believer in government institutions. As a Collector, I always seek to develop quality infrastructure which would allow students of government schools to compete with their private counterparts. ‘Smart classes’ have been developed in all gram panchayats of my district. We are focusing on enhancing teacher recruitment at the district level.”
In addition, the IAS officer adds, they are providing free residential coaching under their initiative called “PAHAL” for medical and engineering exams, PSC, SSC, banking and railways recruitment examinations.
“Meanwhile, career counselling and motivational lectures are regular events in my district,” he shares.
Nonetheless, it’s also important to note that not all officers who send their children to government schools end up improving the quality of education in their area of jurisdiction like Awanish.
For the 2009-batch officer, a product of government schools and someone who has sent his daughter to one, the motivations are clear.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)