Education: Neglected Priorities

In all the hue and cry of IIT-JEE 2013 and RTE, Mr. Sibal and his HRD ministry has overlooked the core issue of education. What must be the priority for education in the larger national interest? WHERE MUST THE GOVERNMENT AND THE SOCIETY FOCUS?

Many and I too, believe that work on education in the metro and urban sector is generally on track. Even if the government schools are not up to the mark, the rise of private sector in education is significant in urban India. Many private institutions, the costliest in the world class category as well as the cheap ones, have come up and are further getting added. Many have started to think differently about the methodologies for imparting knowledge and to find better ways to make the children learn instead of the traditional rote way. Many are getting inspired from the work being done in developed countries. Innovative approaches are being tried. Many agencies, individual NGOs and even corporate houses are actively getting associated with education.

However, the rural India is not getting the due attention from the private sector and without the same nothing significant will be achieved as it constitutes the major population the country. Education in the rural India depends almost totally on the government schools. The system might have covered the population but the quality is suspect with the deteriorated discipline among the teachers and the society getting exponentially disenchanted with the present system of education.

Over the years, the better offs or so-called upper castes with sufficient landholdings and living still in the rural India are not having the same emphasis on the education of their children as they did in past.

Women are still the largest among the illiterate mass contributing hardly anything to the family earning or even managing the home budget. The work on the education or skill training of grown up mothers who had to drop out for many reasons is hardly there. So is the case of SC, ST, handicapped and even Muslim families with no land holding and totally dependent on the temporary engagement for menial work for earning the livelihood. The drive to educate these groups would have been taken up with the seriousness of the project to eliminate polio from the country. For example, Nitish instead of distributing transistor radio sets to Mahadalit would have also ensured setting up of radio stations providing education in an innovative enough manner so that the users of those transistor radios get enlightened and benefited with a change in their mindsets about the necessity of the education that is free and that will take the generations out of poverty.

Unfortunately, it appears the politicians and religious gurus wish to keep these deprived groups in rural India illiterate and ignorant perpetually as otherwise they will go out of job and flouring livelihood. With good education, they will not be brought under their influence and serve their vested interests.

I find hope in two recent news reports: Premji had recently organized a meet of super rich of the country for charity for the society. The government plans to make CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as mandatory. Can the top 100 corporate houses of India and the extended business community focus on quality rural education and skill training for every one?

It is the only way that rural India can start participating in the growth of India with least physical doles and subsidies from the government.

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