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Right to Education Bill: A Mockery on Primary Education? Bookmark and Share  
  Author Name : K Ramesh Babu Posted on : August-1-2009 Total Hits: 3126
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Right to Education Bill: A Mockery on Primary Education? 


It is an irony that during the independence struggle all those leaders who participated and led the movement were educated mostly in London. Eminent personalities from elite institutions from Gandhiji to Ambedkar acquired legal expertise at London, the capital of colonial power that ruled the country.


Today, minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal (incidentally an eminent lawyer before political life) while introducing the bill for right to education in the Lok Sabha  says that nearly 88 per cent of the children drop out of school before reaching higher education.


After the independence, leaders felt that mass education is necessary for the consolidation of the foundation of the socio-economic fabric of the country. They envisaged the goal by making a special provision in the constitution as follows:


Article 54 of the constitution emanates originally as “The State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.”  


However, the case for free and compulsory education for all the children below the age group of sixteen, in particular the oppressed sections of the society are deprived of the benefits of education even after introduction of freebies like free noon meals, free books and uniforms.


In fact, the enrolment rate had increased manifold as certain states achieved cent per cent enrolment in primary education. Number of schools also increased corresponding to the population growth. However, several states did not improve their dismal performance over decades. BIMARU states of North India until the Mandal days are performing very poorly due to the negligence by the ruling elite on the social well beings of the under privileged sections.


Post liberalization India witnessed a new trend of urban private English obsessed school education. Their influence spread to Tier-II and other semi-urban areas and role of private schools started to lead to a digital divide in the last 20 years in the democratic India. Recruiters for employment preferred candidates who passed out of high profile English instructed schools to fulfill job requirements. Arrival of IT/ITeS and BPO industry in fact increased the pressure on quality of education and competition among convent educational institutions paving the way for many state governments to look after framing laws to curb educational consumerism.


In this background, all of a sudden, the central government after 7 years of passing of the bill to make education as a fundamental right has the minister saying that 25 percent reservation for under privileged section in private institutions is a part of the new bill.


However, when we go back 20 plus more odd years to1986 the National Policy on Education decided to restructure education in tune with the social framework of each state, and with larger national goals. It emphasized that education was necessary for democracy, and central to the improvement of women’s condition. The new policy aimed at social change through revised texts, curricula, increased funding for schools, expansion in the numbers of schools, and policy improvements. Emphasis was placed on expanding girls’ occupational centers and primary education; secondary and higher education; and rural and urban institutions.


But the schemes under the policy, Operation Black Board complicated the matter further. Quality of education showed a steep fall since the standardization process thrashed old books and curricula value apart from not implementing new improved versions and guidelines.


Secondly, learning through native languages became affected seriously by the up gradation of school books and curricula. When students cannot understand the lesson about how we can expect them to excel in education? This is the prime reason as far as the state boards are concerned related with drop outs at secondary education level. 


It is my personal experience when I encountered while working in a tutorial in 1992. I found drastic changes in the syllabus which I studied few years back and just pure translation from college books in the name of standardization to the intermediate students. Tutorial students are ones who cannot get regular education or have failed in the first attempt and are re-writing their examinations. I witnessed a dilemma whether to go ask them just to memorize or understand and learn.  


Another 17 years passed. There was no attempt to repair the damage. Instead they are attempting to make the education not only a fundamental right but also free and compulsory. 


Primary education in fact is the most neglected part of the education system. Even though it is accepted by some state governments, the state of the primary education is decaying though teachers, infrastructure, books and supportive schemes are upbeat.


Rural India is the major victim in the case of primary education. No attendance of teachers, poor physical infrastructure, bad roads and transportation, negligence and illiteracy of masses, communal disparities are some other reasons that have contributed to the discontinuation of studies by rural students. 


What the real requirement is for improving educational standards are not the laws but the approach and plan. As in the olden days dedication and participation from the local population is more important for a successful educational system.


Kamaraj the erstwhile leader who transformed the educational map of Tamil Nadu achieved it through public participation. We need leaders who can gather mass confidence to transform not only the educational system, but our outlook over the society as well. 


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