An open letter to Smriti Irani, HRD Minister

I was shocked when someone from opposition attacked you through social media: “What a Cabinet of Modi? HRD Minister (Looking after Education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate! Look at her affidavit at ECI site pg 11 (sic)!” And then pleasantly and surprisingly, his own men were more vocal in condemning him. However, I wish you to prove yourself a great HRD minister that sets an unprecedented legacy that shames every one of your critics. India and particularly, rural India is so much backward in education, that with a little idea and effort, you can achieve what is needed. You have already shown your intention of increasing the spending in education to 6 percent. But let it not just be an intention, you see to it that it happens, otherwise you will be just like one of your predecessors. Some other suggestions are:

1. Encourage each of 543 MPs with their funds and India Inc. under its CSR obligations to set up schools in rural India in thousands, taking assistance of the people of the constituency as Madan Mohan Malviya did. It will be easier and cheaper to get land for it there. I felt sorry that HDFC had to postpone its school building project because of unavailability of land it required. The majority of the government model schools such as Kendrya, Navodaya and Kasturba from class six to twelve should be built in rural India for next ten years. And the government must see that the 2000 of them planned come up before 2019.

2. Help the states to shun or gradually reduce the practice of contract teachers. Instead appoint trainee teachers and as they develop their proficiency, get them promoted in regular scale of remunerations. Improve the teachers’ training facilities and system. Let the selection of primary teachers not focus on formal education but on their interest in teaching and attitude. Let each school be digitally connected, electrified on priority. Let each have a library and sports ground. Encourage the human resources and the school infrastructure to be used for other related activity such as skill training, adult education, and other means for educating the deprived class in the society. If required, the faculty can suitably be compensated for their participation.

3. Encourage the states, and its boards to participate in international tests such as PISA (Program for International Student Assessment)or TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study), and provide the schools and its teachers with incentives and awards for higher scores of Pratham’s evaluations.

4. Request each and every institution and school of higher education such as engineering and humanities to get their student study at least one useful courses through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that are free and to provide the necessary infrastructure such as Wi-Fi and Internet. Alternatively, let all the courses of IITs available digitally, be the minimum course materials in all the engineering colleges of the country. Wherever, the medium of teaching is English, the entrants must undergo a preparatory course in the language and pass an examination such as TOEFL. Each professional college must get into some sorts of tie ups with the companies in related subjects. Industry and academic interactions must be developed on priority to keep the courses relevant and employable. The top ten students of all recognised ITIs must be admitted without entrance tests to degree colleges and provided with scholarships.

5. Every college and its all departments must provide teaching or research assistantships to 10 percent of students. Teachers must have five yearly appraisals based on the ratings by the alumni, number and quality of original papers published, effective research work and achievements such as patents, new product developments etc.

6. Let us aim at making India a global education hub with targeted improvements of our institutions in global rankings and other necessary infrastructures.

Your work is certainly not rocket science and you will excel better.

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