Education - The Policies and Politics!
Once I had to write an essay in school days about what I would do if I become a minister. I wrote different things under different headings. I had also written about what all I would do if I become the education minister. What I wrote under that heading made my teacher lose her peace of mind and complain about it to the head master. She handed over the evaluated answer paper to the head master and asked me to take it from him. He also lost his peace of mind when he read it, called me to know if I would hang everyone if I get a pen and paper in hand and warned me to mind my language from then on. He had to do that because I had expressed my frustrations very openly. I had even written that I would sack the head master if he did so and so things. He should have taken it very personally and as a challenge to his job. So, he had to prove to me what I was actually capable of. I started minding my language in all essays I wrote after that. In school essays alone! :)
It's not that all articles have to pass judgement and everyone that writes such articles should be qualified enough to pass judgments on the subject. It's all unwritten rules of last generation writing. I am just starting this article with a belief that even bringing all views about an issue to one place and making them available for all to see could be a good writing. Let's see how much sense it makes...
One such announcement that was made by her has attracted a lot of criticism from her opponents. It is the induction of two new people into the committee to study the suggestions made by the previous regime. Their complaint is that the ones that are called educationists are not really educationists. They are the ones who do education as a business. The new system is trying to correct that. How would they be able to objectively judge whether the new system is good or bad? I don't know about these two people. But, is it good to have more and more businessmen coming into the education sector? Surely not! How did the governments allow them? Is there a rationale behind it? May be. One of them could be that they might have thought that building educational institutions is not as easy as running wine shops and bars and hence left the former to private parties and decided to run the latter on their own.
Then, I don't think the common syllabus is asking me to join my kid in the same dubba school where I studied. It just says, "Join in any school; But, if your kid is more talented than the rest, your kid also has to bear the same amount of load that the other kids are able to. Nothing more; nothing less!". As of now, I don't understand what problem I or my kid would have in that. I can understand if someone explains. As of now, what I think is - It is good. In general, it's good to make education a lighter affair. Less burden can never be an obstacle to good education. The same thing could be studied more deeply. Despite all these, if at all I am very adamant about loading my kid with more stuff, I can as well do that outside the school in different forms. No law will prohibit that. Even if there is perfect common education system in place, no one can remove this inequality. It's just an attempt to reduce the gap. Why should we hate it?
It's a vast area. We have to start from scratch. From 'whether privatization is right or wrong'!
It's wrong - When? When the privatization done with good intentions go out of control. I mean, when the governments think, 'Once we privatize, our job is done; Our job then is to just loot the country!'. What is happening now is that the approval is given to everyone that gives money or flatters the chief minister in public meetings or if you are a minister. No one checks if there is building, if there are classrooms inside, if there are labs, if there is a library, if water comes in, or if there are toilets. Even after they start functioning, no one audits or checks their way of functioning. Because of that, while only a few improve the quality and do a good business, all others just don't worry about anything because there are enough people for them in the country of billion people with everyone wanting to make their children engineer. Just as they think, all the below-average kids of rich parents come and pour money to save their businesses. Is it good for the nation?
I have to talk about an important thing here. Like how we say the private schools are much better than government schools and private arts and science colleges are much better than government colleges, we can't say that the private engineering colleges are better than the government engineering colleges. Why? Because, they are being run like business. Uncontrolled business! Many of them are golden goose for the politicians, too. We should stop it at all costs.
Next, free and compulsory education for all is one of the greedy aspirations of our constitution. Is it possible? Yes. If the government has many more aspirations in addition to looting the nation. Is it possible? I don't think it is possible in near future because I believe that I am mentally alright. So, does privatization help here? Surely not! The very word privatization means there is nothing free and nothing compulsory. Will you not doubt my sanity if I say, "You have to compulsorily pay so many lakhs and educate your kid in my college!"?. If free education and compulsory education have to become reality, the government has to more ownership on education. If everything becomes so governmental, then there have to be proper checks in place to ensure our teachers do a decent job. Are there different options other than privatization then? There should be. Privatization is just an escape route. Not a solution to our problems. "If it's difficult or if you are lazy to correct the problems, better privatize that sector!" is the modern day mantra of our governments. It's just shirking one's responsibility and not handing over to the right hands.
What are those options? One of them - The relationship between schools and the parents have to be strengthened. Everything including the pay has to be decided based on performance and result as in private companies. Parents' feedback should be given utmost respect and importance. Unless we shake the job security that assures job and salary on time irrespective of whatever I do or not do, we can't create sincere workers. You may even laugh at this. You may even say, "These boys are always like this. They would never talk about what is practically possible!". If you think so, for your information, these practices are already in place in private companies. If I don't do the job that is given to me properly, I can be assured that I won't even have access to my work place tomorrow morning. If my customer has a complaint on my working style, I would be sent out even quicker. It is this fear that makes someone like me who is a lazy bone by birth a hard working professional. Only this fear can make every lazy bone in this land work for what is paid to them. Ironically, the government jobs make even the active ones lazy. So, what we want is a new approach - to see the parents as customers. Not just while collecting fees, but also after the results come - before promotions to teachers - to take feedback from!
There is another thing that we have to do - Like in many western countries, children should be allowed to get admitted only in schools that are in the same area. That would ensure that the quality of all schools in all areas are improved with the help of all big shots in all areas. One complaint that the ones who oppose common education system have is that it would never bring up the downtrodden; it would only pull down the fortunate ones. That's right too. Like the communist governments did in their countries, we should not make the hunger common instead of making the money common. There is an advantage in saying that let's all be in the same place wherever we are. Then whatever the rich parents do will be good for all. Unknowingly all would think for all even if they don't want to. Otherwise, the ones on top would go further up and the ones in bottom would go further down.
If we are talking about mother tongue as the medium of instruction, it should happen across the nation. Otherwise, that would again create huge amount of inequality. We are a nation that depends mostly on English speaking countries for our bread and butter or say, rice and rasam. In fact, that is the only advantage we have over others on the global arena today. If we lose out on that as well, then there is nothing that we could rely on. Even if the whole nation adopts mother tongue based education, the kids that speak English at home would have an edge over the middle class and low class ones. How are we going to handle that?
The only solution that I have for this problem is - Studying everything in two languages right from the beginning. I mean, Maths, Science, Social Science... everything! It may seem like over burden. But, it could be compensated by reducing the overall burden. I am not sure if I could implement this idea even if I become the education minister. If at all it could happen or this idea could reach the right ears, it would be a great thing for our kids.
One word that most of our country men don't like is - Equality. Right from the hospital where a baby is born till the burial ground, the place where one is buried, we can't accept equality. All in all, I think the root cause of this problem lies in how good or mature we are as a society. When there are problems in the basement itself, whatever we try to correct on the upper part would shake everything including the basement also.