By Gautam Thaker*
Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, had called for suggestions from Civic Societies – Organizations with the aim of formulation of New Education Policy. We heartily welcome this idea and humbly submit our suggestions as follow.
For last few decades, we have been talking of improving the education. In spite of knowing about defects in it we have not been able to correct the same till this date. In our opinion, real core value of education lies in its practical knowledge. There has been a clear difference between education and academics. Education means obtaining and knowing the information whereas academics means to mould or shape. Looking at the education now-a-days, it is seen that it has degenerated to its lowest level as far as administration and implementation are concerned. Currently, education seekers and givers, administrators and the parents, all have lost faith in the education. In fact, education offers to the students power for critical analysis, to think on their own, and the power to make use of acquired knowledge and information and such medium of power is known as education.
Primary education has now become a human right. Higher professional education having been commercialized, has become a means of profit. Citizens for Democracy believes that education should become a tool of human rights and human development. In this context, condition and direction of present-day education is the cause of concern. When even this primary education is not accessible to the children of those poor, dalits and adivasis particularly staying in the remote areas of the country, change in the educational system has become very essential.
Various kinds of problems related to educational, academic, administrative, financial, human relations and discipline have arisen whose resolution is a very crucial question. Due to semester system and on account of saffronization and privatization, parents and students have come under severe tension. Recruitment of teachers, professors, principals, librarians and employees etc. is not made in every institution for last one decade. Since work is extracted from all these persons under the Fixed Salary package, the situation has become quite serious.
In our country, if there is any business without much investment and without taking much risk, then it is of private colleges and universities. In the country, there is large scale privatization of colleges and universities on the higher education front. To some extent, there appears to be some help extended in reduction of burden to the Government by such kind of private Universities, Colleges and Schools. But it is not fair when its motive has been changed to profiteering. We may perhaps consider privatization to be tolerable, but cannot tolerate profiteering and exploitation of teachers and professors.
About 207 private universities have been established which consist of 65% of colleges including higher educational institutions inclusive of various institutions offering technical education. One can arrive at a decision that out of all the students receiving higher education, 60% of students receive education from higher educational private institutes. During the year, 2013-14, in the ‘industry’ of education, there was investment of 62.34 billion dollars. An estimate is also made that by the year 2018, this figure shall become almost double.
Mohan Bhagwat, Sar Sangh Chalak of Rashtriya Swayan Sevak Sangh (RSS) states that in the current years, education has become a means of trade and hence it has become costlier and beyond the reach of ordinary laymen. Obviously, the purposes of education do not appear to have been served. To prevent commercialization of education, the Government should also set up good educational institutions at all levels. Beginning of entire process shall become possible by invoking sense responsibility among the teachers about the standard of education, its result-oriented training and through determination of norms or standards.
Central and the State Governments, whichever party they may belong to, are shirking from their responsibilities for higher education. The Governments talking of Welfare States, have been reducing their budget allocation on education. It is observed that when other nations of the world are increasing the expenditure after education, India is making reduction in it.
Our thoughts and suggestions :
- There is a need for thorough change in the educational and examination system, which should include training for self- confidence, education for skills for living, importance of labour, preparedness of the teachers and awareness among the parents and educating the parents.
- Principal and the sole job of the teachers should be for educational activities alone. Govt. should make new permanent arrangements for other miscellaneous official jobs, election duty etc. It is essential to establish a system such that attention of the teachers is not diverted to any other work other than learning and teaching. In a country, where the teachers are ridiculed, how can there be growth of educational level?
- Extent or degree of interference by the Education Department of the State Government in the management of Universities is so much and ubiquitous that it has led to a big misconception that the University is an autonomous body. That misconception has to be removed.
- At every level, there should be proper evaluation of functioning of the teachers and professors, by the principal, fellow professors and the students
- At every two or three years, there should be inspection of educational activities going on in the country and every year, a visit may be made by forming an association of retired principals which may function as a watchdog and submit its report to the State Government Administration of education should be completely democratized so that it becomes entirely transparent.
- An Advisory Board of Education and Training should be constituted. This Board should make deliberation and discussions and consultation every six months, with the senior officials of the Govt., Education Minister and the Chief Minister so as to frame rules and regulations for the training institutions. This will result in creation of administrative and educational participation or involvement.
- In every village, with the population of more than 5,000 persons, there ought to be a secondary level school in which to make its administration transparent, there should be an advisory committee consisting of local citizens and the parents. There is a special role for the Activists in this work. Hence, services of N.G.O.s which are proven and well established in this sector, should be availed of.
- An atmosphere should be created where students may think of implementing for themselves, programmes aimed at strengthening the values of secularism and democracy.
- Since there is heterogeneous mixture of different castes, languages, beliefs etc. in the Indian nation, every group should feel that their interests or stake are included in the education policy.
- After having handed over secondary and higher education to the open market, Govt. should exercise control over it so that they do not behave without any reins of checks and control.
- Education has to be all-inclusive, for competence building, qualitative and affordable to all. There should be all the provisions in the education policy capable for forming a society based on the Indian Constitution’s trinity or three-fold values of equality, brotherhood and secularism.
- Education policy should be framed so as to make available free and compulsory education to all the children up to the age of 18 years. Medium of education in the primary schools should be that of vernacular language.
- It is essential that Govt. should at least; pave a way for inventiveness or nativity in the education through scientific approach and modern thinking. It has to be understood that mentality based on decadent, orthodoxy and out-dated thoughts itself creates a cynical or pessimistic picture for the society.
- In case we are desirous of imparting rural oriented, creative and individualist education which gives rise to creativity then, establishment of Gandhi and Vinoba as our source of inspiration shall certainly be useful.
- Priority shall have to be accorded to the needs or facilities like Library, play ground, auditorium etc. in the schools and colleges.
- Teachers and Professors should be encouraged to improve their own qualities and curriculum or syllabus.
- Implementation of Right to Education (RTE) should be systematically made as presently every State Government appears to be neglecting it. This is a central rule and hence all States must sincerely implement it by immediately enacting rules or laws. At present, there is no proper mechanism for implementing this Right.
Various kinds of Commissions had been formed or constituted in India, as regards the education. Learned persons such as Dr. Radhakrishna, Kothari, Ramamuthy, Yashpal etc. had expressed their concerns based on their own view points as regards condition of education and educational system. Of these, Government has already implemented some of the suggestions. Now the main question is not for merely framing the policy but for its sincere implementation. Now that new policy is being framed or formulated under your leadership, it will fetch desired results or outcome only if transparent administration is ensured by induction of proven educationists-academicians, free and independent of any party or politics. Let us hope that this exercise of framing or formulating of new policy will not turn out to be a mere demonstration or display of futile exercise it itself.
*General Secretary, Citizens for Democracy (Gujarat) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat). Based on letter to Smruti Irani, Minister for Human Resources Development, Govt. of India, New Delhi regarding suggestions for New Education Policy