The Virtual Right To Education

Education is the fundamental right of every individual in independent India but sadly when basic needs like food and shelter are an everyday struggle education takes a backseat. Although the literacy rate in India as per the population census has shot up to 74% in 2011 as against 65% in 2001 much needs to be done to achieve the minimum literacy level of 84% across the globe.

Education is the joint responsibility to be shouldered by the state and central governments. In spite of several schemes launched by the government after allocating and spending crores of rupees the outcome is pathetically low and of diminished quality.
Poor infrastructures, lack of basic sanitary facilities, untrained or under trained teaching staff, one to many teaching pattern where one teacher is deployed across various classes owing to shortage of teachers, teacher absenteeism, obsolete processes in the administration, lack of supervision to check any misappropriations are some of the many factors contributing to the existing low quality education:

These are some of the aspects constantly discussed and debated over decades of the many 5 year plans and various commissions set up for the efficient implementation of these plans but these problems persist as the various plans have failed miserably to revolutionize our educational system due to the grim reality that there is no strong political will to bring a developmental change. imagesTo discuss a few issues here are some factors that directly harm the literacy rate and quality of education.

Hiring process of teachers in Government schools:

The hiring process is very complex in fluxed with quotas and reservations which facilitates the hiring of candidates who don’t have the caliber or merit to teach nor are they really inclined to teach but only take it up as a mere means to earn a living and settle down in a permanent job. Most of the times teachers are hired on a contract basis to cope with the shortage of staff, they are referred as para teachers who are paid quarter the salary of a permanent teacher and are not as qualified as permanent teachers(they are mostly 12th pass). The contract jobs do not give a secure feeling to these teachers resulting in demotivation, disinterest and lethargy to teach. As of today there is a shortage of 6,89,000 teachers across India in Government run/aided primary schools.

Teacher absenteeism
There is no proper mechanism to check on the permanent teachers, they remain absent and are unavailable most of the times as a result of this quality suffers. In most Government primary schools a single teacher teaches across classes 1-4, a class IV student is unable to read, write or calculate at the basic level which indicates an appalling state of affairs. There is no accountability because of long hierarchical reporting levels stacked with colluders who form a nexus network covering the corrupt hence teachers take liberty and remain absent, funds and sundry articles allocated for schools are easily siphoned off by the in charge teachers and local administrators thereby depriving the students of a decent facility for education. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-06-15/news/27628690_1_dfid-british-media-report

Drop out scenario
These children who come from poor families are mainly viewed by their parents as a source of income to their families who can fetch some extra bread and support the family’s financial crisis. The only attraction for them to send their children to school is the free mid-day meal scheme and a small ray of hope that education might change their lives.

When teachers don’t show up and when there is no real learning happening, these children are pulled out of school by the parents and sent to work. Few parents who desire to continue and give quality education to their children are left with little or no choice but to send their children to private schools in spite of the high fees and their financial crunch. Private schools are preferred as the quality is much better and definitely some basic learning is imparted even if it did not have proper infrastructure and does not meet the criteria set by the Government for any private school to be recognized.

Schemes or scams:
Several educational schemes have been introduced under various names for which multi-crore budgets are allocated and expended but these schemes do not translate into quality education delivery in reality. Are these funds really reaching the needy or is it vanished off by the greedy?
To name a few here are some schemes:

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
(SSA)
National Literacy Mission Programme
THE NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR EDUCATION OF
GIRLS AT ELEMENTARY LEVEL AS A COMPONENT
OF THE SCHEME OF SARVA SHIKSHA ABHIYAN
OPERATION BLACK– BOARD SCHEME:
KASTURBA GANDHI BALIKA VIDYALAYAS (KGBVs) IMPROVEMENT
IN SCIENCE EDUCATION SCHEME:
RASHTRIYA MADHYAMIK SHIKSHA ABHIYAN (RMSA) MODERNISATION
SCHEME OF MADARSA EDUCATION:
NATIONAL PROGRAMME OF NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT
TO PRIMARY EDUCATION
INTEGRATED EDUCATION FOR DISABLLED CHILDREN
FREE TEXTBOOK DISTRIBUTION AND SCHOLERSHIP
SCHEMES
COMPUTER
LITERACY AND STUDY SCHEME IN SCHOOLS (CLASS PROJECT)
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
(ICT) AT SCHOOLS SCHEME
  SANSKRIT EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES:
  DISTRICT PRIMARY EDUCATION PROGRAMME: EDUCATION
GAURANTEE SCHEME :
   INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SCHEME:   EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY SCHEME:
FREE OF COST DISTRIBUTION SCHEME OF
TEXT BOOKS
BOOK-BANK SCHEME
FREE OF COST SCHOOL UNIFORM SCHEME STUDENT SAFETY INSURANCE SCHEME
TEACHER WELFARE PROGRAMME: MIDDAY MEAL SCHEME
The LOK JUMBISH SHIKSHA KARMI PROJECT
THE DISTRICT PRIMARY EDUCATION PROGRAMME(DPEP), MAHILA SAMAKHYA
GYANKALASH NALI KALI

Since the inception of the 5year plans several crores of rupees are allocated in the name of these schemes but the developmental statistics don’t show any remarkable progress in the literacy growth rate and also the quality of learning imparted is largely very low.
Non transparent and corrupt practices in dealing with the funds allocated and expended.

Apart from the central and state government funded educational programs in India, we also receive aid from international organizations such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA towards achieving accessible and effective education. Even with so much funds/aids flowing in the quality of elementary education is categorically low.

The National Common Minimum Program (NCMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has announced that it would progressively increase expenditure on education to around 6 percent of GDP which is much higher than many economically forward countries and to support this increase in expenditure on education and to increase the quality of education, there would be an imposition of an education cess over all central government taxes. We the people of India are bearing this additional tax called the education cess for reforming the existing pathetic set up mooting since the last 60years. See link below:
Education Cess in India & how much so for spent – A Puzzle ..
Owing to the introduction of so many schemes monitoring and tracking the performance and success of these schemes are tedious and mostly non transparent. Here are some of the fund misappropriation cases that were noticed, there are many more in the closet:

FIR Filed for Misuse of Funds for Toilets in MCD Schools | news

Lack of political will
93% of the schools in India are directly run or funded by the Government and only 7% is run by the private sector yet 40% of school goers seek education in private schools despite the high fee structures which only depicts the poor quality of the Government educational institutions.
Instead of amending the flaws and setting right the 93% the Government has chosen to nail the 7% to revolutionize the educational system through RTE(Right to Education act)
Why would anybody go to private schools paying exorbitant fees if the government schools were of good quality? Instead of improving the quality and quantity of Government educational institutions is the Government justified in simply passing on the buck to private schools by way of RTE?

Measures to improvise the current system of education:
Containing the drop-out rate and addressing real issues as large number of children drop out of school because of many factors relating to the home and school environment these include discouraging attitude of teachers, irrelevant curriculum, sub-standard teaching, teacher absenteeism, brutal punishment, lack of toilets for girl students (poor school infrastructure), inability to cope with the pace of learning, lack of parental support in the case of first generation learners and most importantly the urgency to start earning forced upon by parents.
The drop out ratio could be contained by providing quality teaching thereby reassuring the parents and students about the growth aspects that loom large with education and instilling among students a yearning to learn is very important. Student counselors should be present in every government school where children can confide their problems and express concerns freely but these counselors should not come under the purview of the government and should be empowered as supervisors in the implementation of all schemes effectively to avoid any nepotism.

Hiring quality teachers without any scope for reservation
A reservation candidate who has scored only 45% qualifies to become a teacher in a Government school, by appointing a sub-standard non merit candidate in the name of uplifting the backward classes the Government is simply fooling the backward classes and jeopardizing the future of many more children from backward families. What quality of students are churned if a below average teacher is assigned to teach hundreds of budding minds?

As long as reservation and quotas prevail there can never be any drastic improvement in the quality of government education. The government is spending crores for training the untrained and unqualified teachers by setting up Strengthening of Teachers Training Institute – Home: Department of … instead it can simply hire qualified trained candidates and revolutionize the existing filthy set up which has not seen much light since the last 60years.

Monitoring teacher’s performance and containing absenteeism:
A government school teacher (permanent) earns anything between Rs.30,000-45,000 and still portray an image of demotivation due to low salaries, on the contrary the private school teachers get paid very low salaries but keep performing tirelessly as they are constantly monitored for performance and results. Unlike government jobs, in a private job it’s a do or die situation if you don’t perform you are sacked as it is the merit culture that prevails in private schools aspiring to grow, develop and excel.

Most government employees are intoxicated with the job security feeling awarded by constitutional provisions so much so that nobody can ever monitor or question their inefficiencies because of the corrupt guild of network embedded in the whole chain of hierarchical higher ups who are all hand in glove to cover up each other’s crimes. Even if a complaint is registered against a teacher they are protected under multi layered constitutional provisions which does not allow a suspension or removal easily. They are also protected by the teacher’s union which works like a mafia where student is never the topic of concern.

Devising strict provisions where teachers are directly made accountable for students’ performances. They should be paid only if they performed which would reflect in the students’ results. Probably there should be a separate edu-lokayukta to govern and ensure quality output that does not fall under central or state controls. Perform or perish should be the way ahead.
Transparency in handling of funds: An effective implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme in a transparent way for a fruitful cause involves the participation and cooperation of all stakeholders which include government bodies, dedicated teachers, honest NGOs incorporating value based education and implanting concern towards the societal needs of the nation among children early.

Strong political will and concern towards development of the nation
Providing quality education to one and all is no rocket science if there is a strong political will to channelize education to all streams and strata of society. If the private schools are able to achieve and impart quality education why can’t the Government own up and deliver? Nowadays many private schools are owned and run by politicians as it is becoming a good commercial venture to invest lakhs and reap crores thereby covering up all that black money.

If Government schools are not able to achieve much then it should be shut down and the funds allocated should follow individual students to their choice of institutes as in a voucher system. A voucher system is a system where the Government offers a coupon covering full or partial cost of education of the student in a school of his/her choice. This coupon is handed over by the student to the school of his/her choice and the coupon is deposited by the school for which the government credits their account with the due amount via banks. This system flushes out all the corrupt petty officials and creates a competitive atmosphere in Government schools. This system may not impact rural areas but definitely worth introducing in the urban areas. This suggestion of voucher system was rejected even before the pilot project was tested owing to the fact that public money cannot be channelized into private markets. When there is scope for FDI to come in then why sulk about public money being transferred to private institutes.

The British introduced the ‘divide and rule’ and they divided us based on caste, creed, religion for the optimization of power and profit but even after 6 decades we blindly follow the ‘divide’ culture in the name of pseudo secularism promoting reservations in all forms today which is the root cause for our under developed status. If only the economically backward and the socially oppressed were given quality free education without any biased reservations they wouldn’t be demanding any quota today. For generations the backward are still backward and the poor are continuing to be poor as the so called reservation is only benefiting the creamy layers who have been availing that benefit generation after generation losing its actual purpose.

Whenever there is some awakening among masses the caste card is willfully played silencing the reforms and reformers. Currently illiteracy and ignorance is a blessing in disguise for our successive Governments as it is these backward masses who serve as vote banks for the corrupt and undeserving candidates who want people to be poor and ignorant as any drastic educational revolution would ignite people to think, question and analyze which would jeopardize their political aspirations.

In a country where polity is seen as a career option inherited and passed on to the next generation, where reservation is used as the magic wand to win over backward vote banks where fundamental rights are compromised and developmental aspects are side lined at the cost of millions of people who wait for an answer to their everyday struggles, the right to quality education is becoming a luxury to afford.

The need of the hour is to be alert and questioning the system by emphasizing the right of every individual. Know your rights and leverage them without succumbing to the coma of ignorance.rtination – File Right to Information act (RTI) applications online

Advertisements

One comment on “The Virtual Right To Education

  1. aamjunta says:

    Quite informative post. Actually as you rightly mentioned, we lack political and a-political will. Politicians should not be blamed alone, we all are equally responsible.

    http://aamjunta.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/qualitative-expansion-of-indian-education-system-need-for-a-strong-and-better-india/

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s