Apathy


Government’s apathy to the plight of children in need of primary education is truly remarkable. Most of you would have heard of the RTE – Right to Education – Bill passed by the parliament recently. However, the status of the education system in India is shocking. We only hear about the good stories of Indian students making it to the U.S. or of students achieving unbeatable scores on the IIT – JEE or the IIM – CAT Entrance Exams, and then assume that most Indian students are absolutely great, and probably the best in the world.

We are talking here about a very miniscule portion of the Indian students, lucky enough to have completed the 12th Grade or the undergraduate degree program. In terms of absolute numbers, this is a small portion of the students out there. Anyone who is lucky to have gotten through thus far, has the capability to achieve more in life. There is no doubt that they can capitalize on the market and higher educational opportunities, in a better manner than the folks who are not able to get through to college in the first place.

Is that surprising ? Not at all.

But the actual fate of Indian Education System is very bad, as can be read from the Times Of India article appearing in the newspaper today. Please read for yourself :

“Missing Teachers are India’s Weakest Link”

Amazing, isn’t it ? The numbers are shocking. What is very upsetting is the fact that 42 million children between the age of 6 and 14 are not going to school. And, the average student to teacher ratio is 1:42, a very high figure by international standards, to quote the newspaper article.

It is critical for government to pay qualified teachers well, and not use them for unrelated government work, such as election work. Teachers need to be appropriately trained and constantly qualified, every year. All this requires funding, and it is necessary for the Indian Government to find resources – move funds away from unnecessary areas to education. Atleast 6% of the annual budget should be spent on education, and the money being spent on higher education needs to be moderated as the institutions such as IITs and IIMs have huge corpus funds that they can tap on, apart from donations from their prestigeous alumni.

Investment in Primary Education is the need of the hour. Secondly, all the systems of education need to be unified at the Secondary School Education level. We are having too much of confusion, leading to dilution of focus and standards. Without uniformity in standards, and tough monitoring and implementation of these standards, India will not be able to convert its huge population of youngsters into a productive workforce.

The private sector’s involvement in education has been rather limited. And, since quality standards are not enforced, there are private schools today who can get away while paying average salaries to teachers and overcharging the students.

State education is in shambles, and it is critical to establish a national level administration for the schooling system, and remove the same from State List. We cannot compromise on Education similar to the fact that we cannot compromise on National Security. Education is security for the future for millions of impoverished children in India, and it is criminal to deny them the opportunities to progress. We need to work together to unshackle them from the scourge of farm work and menial labour – otherwise they will never enjoy the fruits of a modern rising economy.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
5th Sep 2010
Mumbai

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