The importance of a good education needs no emphasis and like every parent, I was recently faced with the question of choosing a school and curriculum for my daughter. However, my experience with this decision-making process was an eye-opener which continues to disturb and provoke me in parts – a palpable need demonstrated by expats to shun the Indian, including education.
The exodus has been a part of the Indian culture for decades now, with the state of Punjab leading the Westward movement while the Southern states living the gulf dream. These generations ventured out in the search for a better life with higher income. Many have retained their culture making a ‘mini-India’ wherever they relocated. Consequently, we have an Indian community in almost every part of the world, our food-finding national food status in Britain, Bhangra and Yoga wave sweeping the US with Diwali being officially celebrated in the White House and the Middle East, the Indian way of living is increasingly finding worldwide appreciation and adoption.
The more recent generations, however, have moved out of a desire to drop their Indian tag, with many stating that they and their children would never return to India.
This phenomenon becomes starker when they are faced with the decision of choosing a school for their children. It is a generally accepted fact that Indian education is vast as compared to western education which focuses on areas of interest only. Being an expat gives us the unique opportunity of choosing the best education for our children, based on the strengths they demonstrate.
However, as I realized during my interactions, most parents prefer international curriculum for no reason but to avoid the Indian one. This feeling is so deep-seated that I have been asked multiple times on why I am decidedly ruining my daughter’s future by choosing an Indian board for her.
This trend makes one wonder where we went wrong as a nation in building pride in our country and ourselves.
A deeper look suggests that this need for rejection stems from our belief that we are not good enough in front of the western world - not as smart, not as competent. And our kids will not stand a chance unless they are made unlike us and just like them. And the starting point of this transformation is their education – an international board with international teachers.
The reason for choosing non-Indian boards is reflective of a large social complex that we face as Indians – which gets further aggravated as expats while interacting with citizens from across the globe.
While the world is waking up to the Indian science and education system, many Indian expats are looking towards the West.
And these complexes need immediate handling before the roots deepen further.
(Author is a mother, an MBA graduate and part-time research consultant, currently residing in Dubai)