The concept of formal education and education institution like schools have undergone sea change in the last 50 or more years. At present, the applied education systems in the world are more or less a fusion of each other. There is quite a diversity found in different education systems, as they have been greatly influenced by other social and state institutions in which they function.
School is the most popular establishment in the education system that provides the appropriate learning and teaching environment. Schools provide formal and mainly the compulsory education. It is progressive and the span differs from country to country. The schooling is divided in different stages – primary and secondary. Primary or elementary stage is for small children and lower age groups. Secondary level is for teenagers.
The school age in most countries begins once a child is three years old. In certain countries, a preparatory stage or preschool education is also provided for children of two years. The first two or three years are spent in the kindergarten school, which also goes by different names like Montessori, Nursery, etc.
What most parents believe today is the early conditioning of the child and inclination towards studies and career planning. In countries where there are surplus of jobs and employment opportunities, education is taken less seriously. However, in countries where education is the solely criteria for getting the right job, parents are always pushy.
Other than formal schools, there are also specialised schools, especially the ones that impart special training and education at professional level. Management schools, law schools, business schools, commerce schools are some of the commonly found specialised schools.
School Ownership and Control
In most of the countries schools are both owned and operated by government as well as individuals or a group of individuals. School system in a way reflects the overall political set up of the state. There were times when schools and education system were strictly controlled by the government. However, as democratic states replaced the existing order and due to liberalization, schools and education institutions secured more freedom. In any modern welfare state the school is a free learning institution where anyone can come and receive the basic education.
Schools and Development
Education being one of the key indicators of development, different states have emphasized on fulfilling the requirements to provide affordable education. In many countries, basic education is provided free to the citizens and is a fundamental right. The state runs schools and makes the desired policies that allow children to receive free education. Yet, there are countries where the responsibility of educating the children is shared by the state and citizens.
Popular Schools and Education Systems
Although opinions vary, but education systems and models developed in the West have been well appreciated. Most of the practices, as we see find in the day to day activities in the schools, have been greatly influenced by the Western models. The schools established in Europe and North America in contemporary times happens to pull a lot of young students for better education and prospects.
Schools in the West are further helped by various industries, which help in providing the placements to the students after completion of the studies. These places provide an ideal ambience for learning and exposure.
Formal Schools and Non Formal Schools
One classification of schools, based on the functional education system, gives rise to formal and non formal schools. Formal schools are the ones where formal education system is in practice. They are usually the normal day schools where children receive the education for a fixed number of hours in any working day. Working days in formal schools are five or six for a week. Non formal schools are generally provided for children who are unable to receive formal education in the regular schools. The daily timings, weekly schedule, teaching methods, school curriculum may be a lot different than regular schools.
Schools vary a lot, both in their structure as well as functions, from place to place as well for any particular place. On one hand one might find a small school building where less than hundred students come every day for education. On the other hand, there are schools that teach thousands of students and with campuses spread over a large territory of land.
When we talk generally about schools, we keep into consideration certain basic components, which are found in most of the schools. They are:
• School Lab
• Auditorium or School Halls
• Cafeteria/Tuck Shops
• Staff Room
Teaching at Schools
Teaching at school is considered as a very noble profession. Teachers enjoy great respect in the society all over the world. There are a number of aspects about teaching that can be elaborately described. The most important are the student-teacher interactions, the teaching methods and tools employed by the teachers, teaching as a profession, the unique experience of teaching, etc.
Primary and Secondary Schools
Primary schooling is provided till the age of 12 to 14 years. Primary schooling focuses on extensive education and therefore includes teaching of arithmetic, calculations, everyday science, phenomena, lands and places, civic lessons, history, etc. Primary education is progressive and divided in grades. Each grade usually takes a year to complete.
In India primary education is further divided in lower primary and upper primary. Upper primary in this case applies to the last three grades or latter stage of the primary schooling.
Secondary education is meant for teenagers. At secondary education level, the developments in the child demand changes in the curriculum and overall teaching system. Secondary education is followed by senior secondary or high school. It is the final stage of the schools and after completion of high school, the students continue to pursue for college and higher studies. Based on these three levels or stages, we have primary schools, secondary schools or senior secondary schools. A school that provides completely from kindergarten to high school level is called K-12 school. Similarly we have K-10 schools providing till tenth grade, which is also the secondary level.
School Management and Staff
There are marked similarities observed in managing or in school administration between government run schools and private schools. The staff and the hierarchy remain same for every school. At apex lies the board of directors (in case of private schools) or the school principal. The board of directors are responsible for general administration of the school. In schools where the directors are responsible for school administration, principal is involved with normal day-to-day activities of the school.
School principal is the primary figure that influences the entire institution. The principal takes leadership role and steers the school towards success. Principal is assisted by vice principal or headmaster. The headmaster overlooks the entire teaching staff. In the teaching staff are senior teachers and junior teacher. Besides them the school may also have supervisors, whose primary job is to reinforce the discipline in the school campus. Other than teachers, there are lab assistants, librarian, accountants, store incharges, physical education instructors, etc.
Depending on the schools, they may be affiliated with other education institutions to fulfil certain obligations, normal functioning or some other benefits. School affiliation is a sort of partnership to meet certain desired goals. Schools often affiliate with school boards, non-profit organisations, charitable trusts, etc. The affiliation does not have any direct influence on the policies or decision making process, except for certain inter-regulations that happen to be necessary for the affiliation.